Jeff Garrett: Numismatic Holiday Ideas

Posted on 12/1/2022

Here are some fantastic gift ideas for the coin collector in your life.

If you're like everyone else, you are probably searching for holiday gift ideas to please that "hard to buy for" friend or relative. Numismatists can be hard to surprise with gifts.

I wouldn't recommend buying rare coins for the holidays. Collectors are usually very particular, and it is highly unlikely that you'll find the exact coin they've been looking for themselves. Rare coins are also quite expensive and are usually considered an investment instead of a gift. Instead of investing in rare coins, consider one of these interesting ideas for that numismatist in your life. These gift ideas will not break the bank and should bring cheer for the holiday.

Numismatic Books

Many collectors like to read about the hobby they love, and there are many great books to choose from. I could name dozens of interesting and educational titles, but I will start with a few of my favorites:

A Guide Book of United States Coins by R.S. Yeoman

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For anyone starting their numismatic journey, the latest edition of A Guide Book of United States Coins by R.S. Yeoman — commonly known as the Red Book — is a great start. This annual guide has been a best seller since 1947. The book explains the basics of collecting U.S. coinage and has detailed listings for every series. It’s the only widely produced guide with accurate mintage figures for every US coin produced since 1793. The book is available at most major bookstores and hobby stores around the country.

Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder

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Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder is a fascinating study of the California Gold Rush, including the sinking of the S.S. Central America and its recovery in the 1980s. The narrative rivals that of the Titanic — it’s an absolute page turner. The story is also newly relevant with the legal travails of treasure hunter Tommy Thompson. The sinking of the S.S. Central America is also in the news again with reports about the sale of artifacts from the ship. Thousands of collectibles and artifacts are set to be sold by Fred Holabird Auctions this month. The sale even includes the robot used to locate the treasure in the 1980s.

100 Greatest U.S. Coins by Jeff Garrett

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Next, I would recommend my book: 100 Greatest US Coins. The book has been my best-selling numismatic publication and is now in its 5th edition. Every collector, from beginner to advanced, enjoys reading about awesome coins. This segment of the market has exploded in recent years and understanding the stories behind these great coins will give readers a better understanding of the rare coin market.

Coins, Collectibles and Hobby Accessories

If the numismatist on your list would prefer a coin or collectible as a gift, consider these wallet-friendly options.

2022 Gold and Silver Coins

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Gifting coins from the current year has long been a tradition in the United States. I myself have bought dozens of gold coins in beautiful boxes and other packaging from the 19th and early 20th century. Some collectors covet these quaint relics of the past.

One of the greatest aspects of giving a gold or silver coin is that your numismatist will probably save them for a long time. Most gifts these days have very short shelf lives, and it’s great to know you have given something of true value. You may also consider making it an annual tradition. NGC-certified Early Release examples are among the most popular with collectors. Learn more about Early Releases and other NGC release designations by clicking here.

Ancient Coins

Regardless of what your numismatic-inclined friend or relative collects, they will love owning a genuine 2,000-year-old ancient coin. Many ancient coins are amazingly affordable and easy to purchase. One of my favorite recommendations would be a Silver Drachm or Tetradrachm of Alexander the Great. These start at around $200 in Very Fine condition. The classic “Widows Mite,” made famous by the Bible’s Mark 12:41-44, is another popular choice. Regardless of what you buy, be sure to only purchase a coin that has been certified by NGC.


Whitman Coin Folders and Albums

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Like so many other collectors over the decades, my collecting interests were first sparked by receiving a Whitman coin folder for Lincoln Cents for Christmas in the late 1960s. The same basic concept of enticing new collectors to fill every hole in their folder or album still works its magic. During the height of the COVID-19 lockdown, we gave our local neighborhood kids Lincoln Cent folders with a bag of coins to search. They all loved them, and many are still collecting coins. Coin folders are still one of the best ways to introduce someone the excitement of coin collecting.

Birth Year Proof Sets

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These always make great gifts for collectors and non-collectors. Who would not want to have a beautiful set of coins struck in the same year they were born. Prices for most Proof Sets at all-time lows and are extremely affordable, unless you’re buying one for an 80-year-old relative!

High-quality Magnifying Glass

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This may sound simple, but a high-quality magnifying glass is one of the most important tools for any collector’s arsenal. Every collector needs to examine their coins up close when grading or making a purchase decision. I recommend a 5x power loupe made of glass, not plastic — plastic magnifying glasses are less expensive, but often have areas of distortion. Purchase a quality magnifying glass that can be used for years to come. Most local coin shops or online numismatic supply dealers carry a large selection.

Memberships and More

A subscription or membership to a numismatic organization can be the perfect way for a budding or experienced numismatist to meet other hobbyists and coin enthusiasts. These gift ideas can help you give your family and friends the perfect introduction to numismatics, make the hobby more fun, or just show your favorite numismatist that you care.

ANA Membership

An ANA membership is one of the best buys in all of numismatics. It is the only national numismatic club devoted to numismatic education and promotion of the hobby. Their monthly magazine, The Numismatist, is one of the most comprehensive numismatic publications out there, which makes it worth the price of membership itself.

Memberships start at $30 per year, but I highly recommend the Platinum membership which is only $46 per year and includes a subscription to The Numismatist. Another great option is the Life membership for that serious collector in your life. It will provide a literal lifetime of enjoyment and numismatic camaraderie. Join here.

Coin World or Numismatic News Subscriptions

Subscribe to Coin World and Numismatic News

Both of these long-established numismatic publications still offer readers lots of interesting and timely news about the hobby. I always eagerly await the next issue delivery to find out the latest news and numismatic discoveries. There are lots of online numismatic news options for collectors these days, but I still enjoy a cup of coffee and my latest edition of Coin World or Numismatic News.



Chocolate Coins

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These may sound silly, but there are actually several interesting and beautiful chocolate coin options. Many chocolate-manufacturing companies even offer custom-made options. Every collector that I know loves chocolate coins, and they make great stocking stuffers.



Donation to Their Favorite Numismatic Organization

Many collectors have everything they could possible ever need and are impossible to buy for. Donating to a numismatic organization in their name is a great way to honor their interest while helping to promote the hobby they love. Organizations like the ANA, ANS or the Smithsonian all needs donor funds to survive.

2022 US Mint Holiday Ornament

Each year, the US Mint offers a variety of numismatic-themed holiday ornaments. The US Mint website also offers a variety of other gifts ideas for young and old alike.

Membership to a Local Coin Club

This is a really great gift for any young person on your list. If there’s a coin club in your area, find out when the next meeting is and take them along. Consider purchasing them a junior membership. Most clubs have programs or information for young people and encourage their participation. This is a great way to introduce numismatics to young people. A local coin club in central Florida jump-started my interest over 45 years ago.

Christmas-themed World Mint Coins

Several Mints around the world offer a variety of coins based on Christmas for the holidays. Some of the participating Mints include:

  • Perth Mint
  • Royal Australian Mint
  • Royal Canadian Mint
  • Solomon Island Mint
  • New Zealand Mint
  • British Royal Mint

Check their websites for this year’s offerings.

Regardless of what gifts you choose this year, I hope this list prove helpful. I also wish everyone a happy and, more importantly, a healthful holiday!

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