Did you know the history of coins mirrors much of the history of humankind? Since the invention of money, countries have minted coins for standardized currency. Many coins fall out of circulation, becoming archaeologically significant.
But what about coins still occasionally found in circulation? Believe it or not, they have value (more than a nickel), more so as people move from cash currency to digital. How can you get started collecting coins, and why should you? There are a million reasons and the least of which is not more jingle-jangle in your own pocketbook!
Why Collect Coins?
Multiple reasons exist that explain why people collect coins and why you should start too. One is that coins serve as valuable educational tools. For example, when was the last time you looked at the date on one of your coins? What was happening that year? Are you old enough to remember? If not, hop on trusty old Google. It's fascinating what you can learn when you fall down a Wiki hole.
In addition to learning new things for yourself, you can elevate your children's learning. Coins teach history, but that isn't all. You can use the value of a coin today versus its original issue value to teach both economics and math. Children can learn about the value of compounding interest over time as well as how to perform basic computations like figuring out an increase in value.
Speaking of children, coin collecting, or numismatics, provides another vehicle for passing down wealth through the generations. You'll never look at your countertop change jar the same way when you realize that what cluttered your pockets today can pay for part of your grandchild's education tomorrow. Coins generally appreciate in value over time, and certain ones do so at exponential rates.
You can also involve children in collecting commemorative coins. Some commemorate historical events like the American bicentennial. Another kind of commemorative coin is minted as a type of fundraiser for certain groups and organizations.
Finally, collecting coins can give you quite the rush. There's nothing like reaching into your pocket and pulling out an American Eagle edition coin, for example. You'll find wealth in the most surprising places — the supermarket checkout, walking along the sidewalk, even browsing estate sales. You can examine the different metal contents of valuable coins, adding to your knowledge base, as well as engage in a fun scavenger hunt activity no matter where you are — again, get the little ones involved!
A Brief History of Numismatics
Archaeology tells us that throughout time, governments have minted coins featuring people considered famous in their eras. Some coins depict natural or man-made landmarks. Coins reflect the values of generations and what they held dear.
In the United States, the 1800s marks the decade when coin collecting became popular. People began growing fascinated with the large cent series after it was discontinued in 1857, and they quickly developed interest in other coins too. No longer was numismatics a hobby reserved solely for the upper classes. Collectors can order from extensive catalogs today, but many enjoy the rush of stumbling across a rare find in their pocket change.
Those new to the art of coin collecting do well to join as many online groups dedicated to fellow aficionados as they can. These groups serve as valuable educational places for new collectors to get tips, and they provide a rich area for buying, selling and trading.
Making Money From Coin Collecting
Coin collecting proves entertaining, and it's also a good way to earn extra money — especially if you find a rare coin on the cheap because no one recognizes the value. This technique, known as "cherry-picking," does take time. After all, rare coins won't cross your path all the time, hence their rarity. But by scouring yard sales and the like, you can find real treasures. One Baltimore banker who passed sold a collection netting $10 million — not a bad chunk of change!
Two factors determine how much a coin is worth: rarity and metal. Obviously, coins made of precious metals like gold can trade at current exchange rates, though you can often get much more. The rarer a coin is, the more valuable it is. For example, if you're ever fortunate enough to stumble across a Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, you could net yourself several million bucks.
With so much to gain, there's really no reason not to collect coins. They take up relatively little space, so even if you move around a lot like military families often do, you won't have much to take with you. You can create a treasure chest to pass down to future generations. What kid wouldn't love getting their very own pirate chest — especially one that could fund part or all of their college education?
Coin Collecting Is Relaxing and Fun
Coin collecting is a fun and relaxing hobby, and it costs nothing to get started — so what are you waiting for? Next time you get change, slip it into your pocket. You never know what treasures you may hold in the palm of your hand!