Essential Coin Collecting Tips for Beginners

Starting a new coin collection with no prior experience could be difficult. The art of coin collecting can be traced back thousands of years to ancient kings and queens, and this can make the prospect of adopting it as a hobby a little bit daunting!

Coin collecting is the ideal hobby for those who enjoy studying coins, assembling sets of coins, and searching for rare or usual coins. For example, purchasing a rather unique coin such as British Antarctic Territory Adelie Penguins 50p coin can be a good start to building a beautiful collection, especially that the piece is a first coin in the series! 

In this guide, we cover everything you should have on your radar when embarking on this new hobby.

Rule #1 – Treat your coins with care

Rule number one when it comes to coin collecting: appropriate treatment!

Too much cleaning of your old and treasured coins can reduce their value dramatically. Therefore, if you absolutely must clean your collectables then make sure that you seek advice from a professional coin grading service. Professionals such as these can provide advice on how to look after and store your coins so that they remain in excellent condition.

And, even if you do not happen to have any unique coins, and you are not planning to monetise your collection, you should still seek guidance from a professional. Using abrasive products and acids could damage your coins’ surfaces and diminish its value! To learn how to handle your coins with care, view our guide here.

Rule #2 – Learn the ‘lingo’

With many numismatic societies and communities out there, it is vital to learn the numismatic language - it comes with the territory!

When assembling your first collection, it will help to try to familiarise yourself with key terms such as ‘alloy’, ‘die’ and ‘legal tender’.

Here’s a quick rundown of the most common terms used in the coin collecting world - along with their meanings:

  • Alloy – coinage metal composed of two or more metallic elements.
  • Assay Mark – mark applied to a medal struck in precious metal by an assayer or assay office as a guarantee of the fineness of the metal.
  • Bi-Metallic – a coin that exists of two metals/alloys simultaneously.
  • Bullion coin – a coin struck from precious metal but struck only once and traded at current spot prices.
  • Bust – a portrait motif on a coin; usually including the head, neck and upper shoulders of a person.
  • Circulation – the extent to which coins are being used for everyday transactions.
  • Collar – a metal piece that restrains the expanding metal of a planchet during striking.
  • Commemorative – a coin struck to honour/celebrate an anniversary of a person, place or event. Usually restricted in circulation or struck in precious metal as collector's pieces.
  • Denomination – the different face values of money.
  • Die – describes two metallic pieces that have been used to strick both sides of a coin.
  • Face value – the legal value assigned to a coin (e.g. 50p, £1, $10).
  • Grade – the process of determining the grade or condition of a coin, based on five criteria: strike, preservation, lustre, colour and attractiveness.
  • Incuse – the opposite of relief coins. This is the part of a coin’s design that is pressed into the surface.
  • Legal Tender – the form of currency issued by a government and therefore considered exchangeable for financial transactions.
  • Mint Mark – a small letter that identifies which mint’s facilities struck the coin.
  • Proof – a coin struck at least two times using a special, high-quality minting process.
  • Relief – the part of a coin’s design that is raised above the surface.
  • Uncirculated – coins that have never been used in day-to-day commerce.

Rule #3 – Choose a specialisation

When assembling your first coin collection, finding one theme you particularly like could be a great way to develop your passion for coin collecting.

Gathering too many unconnected coins can lead to many problems, such as the under or over estimation of their values. Focusing on one specialisation or theme for your coins is a great way to get a better and more in-depth knowledge of the collectable assets and it enables you to build your coins’ portfolio around it.

For example, you might decide that you want to start with searching for animal coins, such as Flamingos series, which is one of the most desired Pobjoy coins struck in full colour. The coins, issued on behalf of British Virgin Islands, make a set of six coins which should be stored in a specially designed collectors album, along with the official Certificate of Authenticity.

Or, if you are more interested in circulated coins, then creating a theme based on variables such as a series or a specific period could be a way forward.

Rule #4 – Use only reliable sources for your coins

If you consider your numismatic collection to be a long-term investment, it’s wise to ensure that you purchase your collectables only from the most trustworthy of sources.

One of those trusted source types could be a mint, such as Pobjoy Mint; a manufacturer of legal tender coins for over ten British Overseas Territories.

When you buy from mints, you are granted an extra layer of security with your purchase, meaning that the purchased coins are 100% genuine products. Interested in viewing our current collection? You can browse our selection of newly released coins, here.

If you are on a hunt for historical treasures, the best places to go are numismatic websites as well as local/online numismatic auctions, which source valuable coins from individuals as well as mints around the world.

Rule #5 – Expand your knowledge

Mastering the art of being a numismatic collector takes time and a vast amount of coin knowledge!

To make sure that you make the most of your collection, both in terms of satisfaction and financial benefits, use all the resources available and spend some time developing your knowledge about all things numismatic.

To stay up to date, you might want to consider a subscription to industry reads such as Coin Week and Coin News. These publications will keep you updated about what is happening in the world of numismatics.

To stay ahead of the curve, look to sign up to social communities such as the Pobjoy Mint Coin Collectors Community on Facebook, where our experts can help with answering any questions you might have about your own collectables and share their words of wisdom. Online communities such as this also grant you with another way to stay up to date with the latest news and trends - all from your social media newsfeed. It’s a great, convenient knowledge source for busy collectors who may not otherwise have the time to read industry newsletters or articles.