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Find and Collect Rare Coins

Updated on October 4, 2016
Find and Collect Rare Coins: 1898 Shilling.  Queen Victoria Silver Shilling.  Source: Author
Find and Collect Rare Coins: 1898 Shilling. Queen Victoria Silver Shilling. Source: Author

For many of us, we don't start to find and collect rare coins out of the blue, it is a hobby that sneaks up on you. Most people start by collecting coins which catch their eye - coins with a nice pattern, or those created for a special event or occasion. It's only later that this collecting can turn into a desire to find and collect rare coins.

Years ago you'd have had to physically be where a coin was for sale in order to buy it. Now the Internet enables everybody to search online for catalogues of rare coins for sale and to buy them online much more easily.

What Makes a Coin Rare?

A coin can be rare due to several reasons:

  • being a limited run
  • because there was an error in manufacture and not all the bad copies were recalled
  • being very old and so most have been taken out of circulation years ago
  • being of good quality, with most of that date being worn out

But where can you start to look for rare coins to collect?

Coin Collecting Facts

Here are some facts about coin collectors:

  • Coin collectors are called numismatists.
  • The word numismatist was first used in English in 1823; the word came from an older word in French and before that Latin.
  • Coin collecting is an old interest, even Caesar Augustus gave collectible coins as gifts.
  • The first book on coins was De Asse et Partibus (1514) written by Guillaume Budé.
  • Professional coin collecting socieites first started in the 19th century.
  • Most modern coin collectors collect coins dating from the mid-1700s, when machines were first used to strike coins.

Rare Coins in Your Change

Sometimes you might find rare coins in your own pocket. Maybe you were given a foreign coin in your change at the shop, or maybe you were given a coin in change that has been recalled but the knowledge of the recall isn't widespread yet.

It's always worthwhile keeping an eye on your own loose change just in case.

Coin Collecting Fairs

Coin dealers will have coins for sale at local fairs - or you might even find a dealer at a local County Show. Even Garage Sales or Yard Sales can turn up trumps occasionally too.

To snap these up at a good price you need to know which coins are valuable and which aren't.

Rare Coins for Sale on eBay

These days, eBay has stopped being the flea-market for the common man - and is, instead, a shop front for genuine business, including coin dealers.

You will find a lot of coin dealers with listings on eBay.

Also, estate clearance dealers will often put all their stock on eBay as it is a great way for them to reach a large marketplace.

Many coins are affordable - these 1898 English silver shillings shown to the right are currently worth between $10 and $40, depending on condition. Although I have seen some being sold for cheaper prices through ebay as dealers are having to think about cashflow sometimes so they sell coins cheaper than their "worth" to get noticed, or to inject some cashflow into their business.

You can also use ebay listings to find a local dealer - and perhaps either collect the coin yourself, or visit their shop. There is a feature in ebay that enables you to search listings based on distance from your home!

Rare doesn't mean expensive!

Coins are minted in hundreds and thousands - just because a coin is rare doesn't mean it is out of your price range.

Rare Gold Sovereigns

One popular coin to collect is gold sovereigns. They are easy to buy, easy to sell - and you know exactly what you're getting. Many investor/collectors will choose to collect rare gold sovereigns because they are a good entry point into collecting rare and valuable coins.

Tools of the Trade

Ever since people started collecting coins, there have been catalogues produced that show the value of every coin. These catalogues make it easy for you to quickly look up the vallue of any coin.

It's worthwhile picking up a few books and looking through to see what sort of coins you'd like to collect. Just collecting "rare coins" isn't something most people do, people will prefer to collect coins with a theme - perhaps rare coins from one country, or from one period of time.

Discover the type of rare coins that you want to start collecting.

Is Collecting Rare Coins an Investment?

This is a tricky thing. Some coins will go up in value a lot, over time. Others will just maintain their value - and some will fall out of favour - often due to the subject matter.

If, say, a popular film is brought out about one period in time, it might make coins of that period worth more for a year or two, before becoming less popular a few years later. It is worthwhile looking at what makes each coin rare and what makes it so valuable, so you don't get caught out.

You need to find out what's happening in today's market, then have a go!


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    • earner profile image

      Dedicated Content Curator 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks for your comment, it's great to have feedback.

      I love silver sixpences - they are certainly worth collecting because they are so flexible to cash in or use. The amount of sterling silver in old sixpences varies, with older ones containing more, but they are certainly worth a LOT more than their face value just for the weight of silver.

      There are dealers who will buy old coins with prices based on the amount of sterling silver or copper in them.

      Gold sovereigns are the one you really can't lose with. They are the coin most "investor/collectors" will choose to buy as the market for them is easier to understand.

    • cornwall_UK profile image

      cornwall_UK 4 years ago from Cornwall, UK

      I have someld silver sixpences - thanks for reminding me about those, I'm going to find out how much they are worth.

      It's nice finding old coins and interesting to see how much they are worth. I'd like to start collecting gold sovereigns.

      Voted up!