ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Basics of Coin Collecting

Updated on February 21, 2009

Coin collecting is the collecting or trading of coins or legally minted currency. Coin collectors collect coins those that were in circulation for only a brief time, coins minted with errors, or especially beautiful or historically interesting pieces. Some focus on coins of a certain nation or historic period, collect coins from various nations, or settle on error coins. Still others might focus on Exonumia - currency, tokens or challenge coins. Elongated or squished souvenir pennies, medallions, tokens, and commemorative coins fall into this category.


Many beginners of coin collecting assume that the older coins is more worthy. In truth, the age of the coin has no direct affect on its value. It is its relative rarity and level of demand that determines its value.


Coin collectors can be of many different types depending on what the focus of their collection hobby is.  

Completists – Completists are the collectors who want to complete a set. For example, a person who wants all the coins minted in 1965 in France.

Year collectors – These coin collectors look for coins of a particular year.

Country collectors – Some people focus on collecting coins of a particular country.

Mintmark collectors - Some collectors consider that different mint marks give sufficient differentiation to justify separate representation in their collection. Some mintmarks are more rare than others.

Theme collectors – This is a rare type of coin collectors. They will collect coins centered on a particular theme. One example could be collecting coins featuring comic book characters on them.

Subject collectors - Collectors with an interest in a subject (e.g. ships or dogs or leaders) may collect only coins depicting that interest.

Precious coin collectors – These are the most elite type of coin collectors. Ordinary coins do not interest them. They collect coins for some value, probably due to a fault in them or some historical significance associated with them.


When you are deciding which coins to buy always consider their relative rarity and opt for the least common dates and mintmarks you can in your budget. Naturally, the condition of a particular coin has a tremendous impact upon its value. Unless you are collecting coins primarily for their metal content always go for the highest grades you can afford.


There are many different types you can collect, but the most profitable are gold and silver coins. As old coins age, so does their value when appraised become higher.


Error and die coins are the result of some kind of flaw or abnormality that occurs during the minting of the coin. Every series of coins that have ever been minted have had their flaws that have made some of them highly collectable. The value of error and die coins depends upon several factors. The scarcity of the error can make the coin very valuable, but it also depends on the date, denomination, the type of error that occurred and how significant it is. While some error coins are almost worthless, others can be worth thousands of dollars.

Toning is the term for tarnishing or discoloration. Some kinds of toning will actually increase a coin's value. A blue tone on silver coins is considered desirable, and an even tone on copper coins is acceptable as long as it isn't so dark that you can't make out the details. As long as the toning isn't uneven, so dark that it obscures the design, or just plain ugly, then it's not a reason to reject a coin.

In coin collecting, the condition of a coin is paramount to its value; a high-quality coin is often worth many times more than a poor coin. Collectors have created systems to describe the overall condition of coins.


The lowest grade for a coin is basal State, or its letter equivalent PO, followed by Fair (Fr), About or Almost Good (AG), Good (G), Very Good (VG), Fine (F), Very Fine (VF),  Extra Fine (EF or XF), Almost or About Uncirculated (AU), Uncirculated (Unc), and the highest grade Brilliant or Beautiful Uncirculated (BU). Thankfully there are now quality coin grading services, such as PCGS, who for a small fee, will accept your coin, thoroughly examine it, assign it a grade, and return it for you.


It should be noted that different types of coins have different sets of criteria that are used to judge their condition. As a general rule the rarer a coin is, the less stringent the grading criteria is.


You can buy hard plastic protective cases and plastic sheets from any hobby store that deals with coins for protecting your coins.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • lovelypaper profile image

      Renee S 

      8 years ago from Virginia

      Interesting hub. I have about ten coins that may be worth something. I keep meaning to look into it. Thanks.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)