Coins can make an excellent long term investment. Not only do they carry an intrinsic physical value, but they also come with a rich history attached. Collecting rare coins is not only a smart investment, but it can also be a very fulfilling hobby.
Getting started with a coin collection can be tricky and requires a bit of preparation and research. Here are our top tips for beginners just starting to build their coin collection.
- Familiarize yourself with coin grading scales.
Two examples of the same coin can have dramatically different values as a result of small differences in their quality. Having a baseline knowledge of how coins are graded will help you better understand their value and make more effective investment decisions.
There are two major organizations that grade and certify coins. One is the Nuismatic Guarantee Corporation, or NGC, and the other is the Professional Coin Grading Service, or PCGS. They are both highly respected in the industry, and you’ll want to ensure that every coin you buy or sell is certified by them.
Both of these organizations use the Sheldon grading scale. This scale has been in use for over 70 years and is the industry standard around the world. These grades range from 1 to 70. Coins with a score of 60 or above are considered mint state, while coins with scores of 30 or below typically have lost design detail and key features with wear. The differences between grades in the mint state category are typically not visible to the naked eye.
Coins that are higher on the scale are typically going to have a higher value. However, values are also tied to other factors like a coin’s rarity and current demand. You won’t be able to grade coins yourself - it will always need to be done by a professional. If you have coins that don’t have a certified grade that you would like to sell, it’s helpful to pay to have them graded.
- Invest time in finding a great coin dealer.
It’s absolutely essential for coin collectors to find a dealer they trust to work with on an ongoing basis. Dealers have important industry connections, so they can help you find coins you wouldn’t have access to on your own. If you need to sell a coin, they can also help you find a dealer that will give you a good price. No matter how educated you are, it can be very difficult to find fairly priced coins without industry connections. Having a dealer will also streamline the process of buying and selling.
However, not all coin dealers are created equal. You’ll want to make sure that the dealer you’re working with is experienced and legitimate. Make sure to have an in-depth conversation with potential dealers before you begin working with them. You’ll want to ask about their experience, certifications, and specialties, as well as their general approach to buying and selling coins.
The more experienced and knowledgeable your dealer is, the more effective they will be when it comes to helping you buy and sell coins. Because they follow the coin market professionally, they’ll be able to guide you to the best investment decisions for your portfolio in the long term. If you develop a long term partnership, they also may be willing to show you coins that they aren’t actively advertising.
- Visit coin shows.
Coin shows are another very effective way to find new pieces to invest in. You’ll be able to see a huge selection of coins in one place, and you’ll also be able to talk to industry experts as you browse. If you’re still looking for a coin dealer, shows can also be a good place to meet several of them in one place and see who you work best with. Coin shows are held globally in many major cities, so it’s likely that there are opportunities to enjoy them not far from where you live.
- Focus on building a diverse collection.
When you start putting together your collection, it’s important to focus on collecting a range of coins for a balanced portfolio. This means investing in coins of varying origins and values, as well as coins made with different metals. Having a diverse portfolio minimizes your overall risk, because even if one type of coin or metal starts to fluctuate in price, it won’t affect your entire investment.
It’s typically best to focus on these coins as long term investments instead of a short term way to make fast cash. Coins are a very unique asset because of their physical value, which makes it much harder to use a short term investment strategy successfully. While the stock market fluctuates throughout the day, the coin market moves much more slowly. A dedicated long term strategy will likely pay off in the end.
- Focus on quality over quantity.
Once you’ve started investing in coins, it can be very tempting to start purchasing new ones purely for the purpose of building a large collection. However, it’s always going to be best in the long run to focus on high quality coins, even if it means you don’t have as many of them. Although it’s a bigger investment up front, it will still likely come with a bigger payoff in the long run.
Many inexperienced collectors buy low value coins with the idea of trading them in the long run. You typically will get a better deal when you buy with cash instead. In general, paying in cash (as opposed to trades) will help you get ahead when it comes to investing in coins. Many dealers prefer to work with people who pay in cash, so this will help you get access to the coins you want.
- Subscribe to coin catalogs and websites and check them frequently.
While it’s always exciting to buy a coin in person, you can also find some truly excellent coins by shopping online or even through a catalog. Many reputable coin sellers have convenient and safe remote sales operations. You’ll be able to browse a larger selection of coins from the comfort of home, and will have your purchases delivered to you securely. Checking these websites and catalogs frequently can help you be the first to know about these amazing deals.
Having coins sent to you by mail is very safe, but you’ll need to do some research ahead of time to ensure that you’re buying from a reputable organization. They should be able to verify and guarantee each coin’s grade, and they should also offer a delivery guarantee. Look up reviews from other coin collectors to help you find the best mail sellers.
- Make sure to keep your coin collection safe.
Since rare coins are a big investment, it’s very important to make sure that you are able to keep them safe and in good condition. First, you’ll want to ensure that your coins have some layer of security - many people use safes or heavy duty locks when they aren’t displaying their coins to protect them from theft. You’ll also need to take steps to protect your coins from the elements. Temperature fluctuations, humidity, and substances like chlorine and salt can all cause damage to your coins.
There are many storage solutions that are specifically designed to preserve each coin’s quality. Archival coin folders and albums will not only make it easy to catalog your coin collection, but they can also offer some additional protection to keep your coins in good condition. If you’re investing in particularly valuable coins, you may want to look for slabbed coin holders, which completely protect them from damage.
It’s also very important to make sure you know how to handle your coins properly. Always wash your hands before touching a rare coin, and make sure to pick it up by its edges to minimize skin contact with the coin. Hold the coin over a soft surface - this will prevent scratching or other damage if you drop it accidentally. Don’t attempt to clean your coins, as this could actually result in a loss of value.
- Follow your intuition.
No matter how much research you do about rare coins, it’s still most important to go with your gut about which ones to add to your collection. Coins are such a unique investment because they can have sentimental value in addition to their physical value. It can also be very difficult to predict how coins are going to be valued in the long term. If you’re struggling to decide between two different coins, opting for the one that appeals to you most is often the best strategy.
Not only is coin collecting a unique way to invest your money, but it can also be a very fun and engaging hobby.
Before you get started, it’s always best to take the time to learn about the coins you are most interested in and come up with a strategy for your collection. And now that you have, check out some of our best selling coins!