What You Need To Know - About Starting Out in Coin Collecting
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My Fellow Numismatists----Guess Most Of you expect me to talk about Walkers but I decided to save them for a later post. Instead, I wanted to try and help out all the YN out there as they begin their collecting. So I have tried to think what I would tell any person who is just starting out. Things that I wish had been told to me when I was young. Things which I wish that I had known even 7 years ago as I renewed my love for Walkers. First, what do you like in coins? Take a look around. Visit the U.S. mint site on the computer. Go to a coin show and walk around. Ask questions whenever you have the opportunity. BUT DO NOT BUY ANYTHING. Same with Ebay or Teletrade or whatever other place that you might find. Look at the pictures and try to see how the coins are graded. Compare the TPGS holders. See if you can figure out how the grades compare with the prices that are asked. BUT DO NOT BUY ANYTHING.

 

Once you think that you know what series of coins appeals to you and your pocketbook----you need to buy a couple of books. One is the ANA grading book of 2006----so that you can learn to grade a little. The second is the Red Book of 2006 so that you can see the 'retail' prices of the coins. Then buy a couple of books that are directly related to the coins which you like the most and want to collect. Then read them completely. Go slow. Try to understand that coin collecting is not a sport where you can play the game and be done in an hour. It takes years to learn well and you are at 'coin collecting 101'. Now look at coins anywhere that you can: Ebay, Teletrade, coin shops or auctions, coin shows. BUT DO NOT BUY ANYTHING.

 

Next you need a loupe to look at the coins more closely. Sure, you can pick one up cheap in a lot of places. But buy a Hastings Triplex loupe in either 5 or 7 power for about 40 bucks. There are more expensive ones than this one but this is the best investment in coin collecting. Now, with that new loupe, get to know what a 'cleaned' coin looks like. Find out about hairlines and what they mean to a coin's surfaces. Ask more questions and find a nice guy or gal who will take a few minutes to show you. Keep looking at coins anywhere that you can find them. Learn about toning too. Read all you can about Natural vs. Artificial Toning. Again, find a buddy somewhere who might help you to learn what you must learn. Cleaning devalues a coin by quite a bit. You do not want to make mistakes and buy cleaned coins at "UNCLEANED PRICES". Now, if by this time you must buy something, go get a proof set or two from the U.S. mint. Buy a new ASE or anything from the Canadian mint as well. Just a little something that gives you something to hold and cherish. But, something that one can be sure about.

 

Now, let's say that you liked Merc Dimes. Knowledgable folks will tell you to buy the very best that you can afford. Bob says that they are correct---but you must learn to recognize what is the best. So I say to start a set of Fine to Extra Fine coins. In the case of the Merc dimes, you can get a nice fine coin of virtually every date and mint---except the 21's---for between two and ten bucks. If you learn to grade at this level, you can then jump to the AU--UNC level in good time. Again, Merc dimes are great because they allow you to finish a complete set, learn how to grade, find out about just about everything that you need to know----and yet have really very little "TOTAL" money invested in the set. If you make mistakes, OK---but you will only have 2--10 dollar mistakes. Not big money errors which will hurt your feelings a lot. Washington Quarters would be good too---the 32D and S are expensive but other than that, in the fine--Xf level, they are easy to obtain.

 

Buy coins that are not cleaned---have no hairlines---are not shiny. But buy coins that have eye appeal to you. Now, find someone with an old greysheet that they will give you. It is the dealer bid and ask prices for coins. Try to buy your coins at or below the bid prices. Go slow. Buy Slowly. Take 6 months of your time. Let every coin that you pick up into your hands teach you something. Think about where it has been---who might have held it---what it might have bought. After this 6 month period, you can tell then----'Is this coin stuff for me??' You can then either go forward or you can quit. If you go onward, you have an awful lot to learn. If you quit, you have only to sell on Ebay. And little loss of money to your ego.

 

Now, next week Tom B will continue these posts. I will continue to talk to those who have contacted me and everyone will get a week to post. If you have not already contacted me and wish to post, just drop me a line [PM]. All of us hope to learn a little. Just good fun and talk----and help for those that need it.

Edited by Architecht

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Great advice. I am still a Younger one but, I am getting older. anyhow Did you forget that the 1916 D is a money coin for Mercs? I use the redbook more as a starting point. Just also keep in mind that looking at coins in hand is the only true way to see what a coin looks like. Images always seem to lack one thing or another. Not saying there are not some good images, but in hand is best and I ever pay more for coins in hand than I do from an image most of the time. I like your idea about starting with small coins, so if you do make a mistake it is not a costly one. I also like the Lincoln cents as a starter set, for the fact that you will be able to get alot of lincolns fairly cheap, but there will be a couple of coins you have to hunt and search for a bit more such as a 1909 S VDB, 1914 D, 1931 S, and 1922.. and after that many other semi key dates... which makes for a long time and fun hunting and at the end you really feel like you have done something great.

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Bob -- I wish I had known you when I was starting out. 893applaud-thumb.gif I posted this in another thread a while ago, but maybe it's applicable here:

 

(1) Read, study, and learn about numismatics for a good long while before you even think about purchasing your first coin.

 

(2) Find a subject or series that fascinates you for whatever reason, e.g., the artistic merit of a design, a particular period in history, the minting process, the biography of a particular engraver. This list is bound only by the breadth of your imagination. The subject that you choose should be one that intrigues you and demands your attention. Don't be a slave to the traditional concepts of collecting by series or type (though there is nothing wrong with collecting in this way, of course, so long as it is what you choose for a good reason).

 

(3) Design a set that will allow you to explore and to express your interest. I think of a collection as a story told by coins, and selecting the right coin for your collection -- for the story that you want to tell -- is like choosing the right word to express an idea. The storyline brings cohesiveness to the collection in which each coin contributes to the meaning of the others.

 

(4) The set that you design should present a true challenge regardless of the funds that you have available. It's far too easy to spend money on coins; make it harder to spend money by setting goals that are difficult to attain.

 

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Bruceswar-----By gosh, I did forget the 16D Merc. New collectors please forgive me that I forgot to mention the "KEY" coin to the series. But, unless slabbed by NGC or PCGS or ANACS, that coin should not be fooled with by a new collector anyway. Far too many counterfeits. And certainly Lincoln cents would be a good starter set for a new coin collector too. Most are reasonably priced but the keys to the series can be a real challenge.

And IGWT Lou, my buddy, your points are certainly well taken. Just think how much better we all would have been if we did not have to pay our dues in coin collecting? If we could each have had an experienced coin buddy to teach us the ropes. My, would that have been nice!!!!! Bob [supertooth]

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Just to chime in. I would encourage everyone, especially newbies, to be just as passionate about learning coins as you are about collecting coins. There is no substitute for knowledge and patience is a virtue that will save you lots of money. Don't throw hard earned money away to the slime balls and parasites of the industry. Put that money to better use and invest in yourself.

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besides all of the great advice offered here, I would suggest that you only buy coins with money you can afford to lose. You should always try to get the best coin for your money, and know why that coin is the best you can afford. Starting with circulated coins in an album seems like a great place to start. I would also suggest that a YN try to wrap their mind around the idea that it's a hobby. I know when I started out, I thought I could make a few bucks to support my collecting. I was wrong, but lucky enough to get out from underneath my loses after a while.

 

My mantra for collecting is simple and I feel comfortable recommending it to anyone.

 

Buy what you like, with money you can afford to spend. Collect what you like and like what you collect. Don't worry about what others think of your collection, it's all about how you feel.

 

JMHO

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I have found that most collectors love reading. if you don't love reading, you will. There are too many "collectors" out there that don't know a thing about what they collect, only that a few of the coins cost more than others. These people keep the "couch dealers" alive and well.

 

The one thing that binds most all collectors together, and can describe all of them in one word P A S S I O N !!!!

 

Keep it burning, and as you are doing here seek the advise of your peers... It is invaluable !!!!

 

I, like others wish I had a direct menor starting out.... The one thing I did have was desire to learn all that I could, and that is something

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As a newbie myself I must say that this is some GREAT advice! By all means follow it BUT…

 

Nobody wants to just study the plays - you want to get into the game!

 

As JMHO said, start with circulated sets!

 

1932-1998 Washington quarters are a GREAT set to start with. You can start immediately - chances are you’ve got some of the 1965 – 1998 clad ones in your pocket and they only cost you 25 cents! Plus, there are only two key dates - the 1932 D and 1932 S – wait to pick those up LAST. There are so many coins in this series that you will have a little knowledge under your belt when you do go shopping for them. You are not just wasting your time either – a completed Washington set with the key dates and proofs in the Good grade is worth about $600 - $700!

 

Franklin Halves are another good one to do. Millions of coins were minted each year so there really isn’t a key date to worry about and they are ALL silver! WOO-HOO!

 

Finally, to get your fix on putting together a really nice shiny MS set, I suggest on doing a BU Ike Dollar set. They are nice big coins that look great in an album and millions of these were made too so they are pretty darn cheap! I’ve seen these sets sell for just over $200!

 

I’ve just completed these exact same sets. It took me just under a year with only a moderate amount of searching to do them all. If you are like me, even when you are ready to collect something a little more challenging, you will keep working on even more circulated sets!

 

Hays

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got any pics of the circ washington Set? I am building an UNC Set.... All Raw coins... mainly MS65 and up... but I got a bit more expierence so I feel ready for a set like this. 1932 to 1964 D I am not going to do the clads....

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For what it's worth as a person that is now very old and was for a while a teacher I would suggest that posts such as by supertooth are too long for most YN's and many older individuals. They do not have the attention span required to read long, continuous information. Although the advise is there, the presentation will loose many readers of the YN or older people. Presentations in writting for any new collectors should be more in line with IGWT or TerrapinWill.

I never realized this way, way back when I was teaching and really wish today I did. Although I was a teacher in Chemistry at a Junior College, The attention span of late teens, for instance, must be short and to the point.

There is an old saying about why some people repeat themselves several times. They are parents. The first time they are not heard. The second time you now have attention and usually get a HUH. The third time you say something, your heard.

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got any pics of the circ washington Set? I am building an UNC Set.... All Raw coins... mainly MS65 and up... but I got a bit more expierence so I feel ready for a set like this. 1932 to 1964 D I am not going to do the clads....

 

Bruce, I just found this. doh! I didn't mean to blow you off on your request! I probably won't get home for another two weeks but I swear when I do get back I'll post some scans. I started this set with some coins my dad had in a jar. It isn’t the prettiest set you will ever see, in fact it is rather ugly. My dad had 20 or so coins ranging from AG to AU including an extra ugly 1932 D. That one might even grade Fair. Nonetheless, I’ll post the scans when I’m home.

 

Hays

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got any pics of the circ washington Set? I am building an UNC Set.... All Raw coins... mainly MS65 and up... but I got a bit more expierence so I feel ready for a set like this. 1932 to 1964 D I am not going to do the clads....

 

Bruce, I just found this. foreheadslap.gif I didn't mean to blow you off on your request! I probably won't get home for another two weeks but I swear when I do get back I'll post some scans. I started this set with some coins my dad had in a jar. It isn’t the prettiest set you will ever see, in fact it is rather ugly. My dad had 20 or so coins ranging from AG to AU including an extra ugly 1932 D. That one might even grade Fair. Nonetheless, I’ll post the scans when I’m home.

 

Hays

 

Great I would love to see it... Sounds like a nice beginings... Hope all is well for you... I know your not blowing me off smile.gif

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