A coin collector is called a numismatist or numismatologist, although these terms can also be applied to coin dealers, and scholars. Many coin dealers, including our founder Richard Lobel and our coin specialists, started out as coin collectors before they became dealers. Numismatist or numismatologist serve as umbrella terms for all of those that have numismatic items as a source of income and/or as a hobby.
The collector plays an important part in the study of coins in that he/she at least preserves the coins for future students to examine. A collector does not really own his/her treasure he or she is a custodian for future generations.
Now that you know what the formal name given to a coin collector is, perhaps you might be wondering if coin collecting is for you.
Here’s the answer: if you have no interest in history, or feel no sense of awe in handling items which have passed through countless hands for hundreds of years, then it may be that collecting coins is not for you.
Even so, you may still wish to acquire a collection or accumulation of coins for investment purposes. There are few investment choices which are as easily marketable or transportable as coins.
We at Coincraft – Britain’s Coin Shop do not sell coins as an investment. And that’s because there is no logical reason why items bought to bring pleasure should increase in value. If one’s interests lie with tech devices one does not expect to sell the used equipment for a profit at a later date.
However, if one acquires collectible items for pleasure, it will often be the case that they increase in value at a rate higher than inflation over the years. Such appreciation in value should be regarded as a bonus on top of the enjoyment that one gets from their possession, and not as a right.
After all, who can predict what is going to happen in the future? While it’s true that collectors who have stayed the course and have collected during the times when prices were high and when prices were low, have done very nicely when they sold their collections. They were able to accomplish this because they enjoyed collecting and learning about the coins in their collections.
But if you are one of those able to enjoy the myriad of experiences which coins offer, you are indeed lucky. How else could you acquire, at little cost an item bearing a two thousand years old representation of a Roman Emperor? What other field could tantalise as one tries to fathom the minds of designers and engravers, such as those who encoded information into the minute die variations of the harp strings of the coinage of Charles II? Certainly, stamps do not offer anywhere near the same mystery; oil paintings, if one can afford them, possibility do, but they do not fit nearly so easily into registered envelopes.
Getting started in coin collecting – what coins should I collect?
What coins to start collecting will depend on what sort of person you are. Primarily, it is best to collect what attracts you most. However, you should remember that there are alternatives to the obvious answer of collecting a particular denomination by date or by type. For example, you can take a totally original approach, choosing to collect Victorian English silver coins by die number from 1 up to several hundred.
What you collect will usually reflect something of your inner nature. An extrovert who wants to show off a collection will often collect crowns or five guinea pieces. An intellectual might collect, and study at length, Victorian farthings by date and die variety. Someone with an interest in ancient history might want to start a Roman bronze coin collection, and have a coin for every Emperor. Or even a British coin collection with coins linked to historic events.
Collectors can confine themselves to a simple method of collecting, such as acquiring one coin of each British monarch – or can delve deeply into the types of coin, reasons for issue, the engravers and the multitude of factors involved in the process of putting a penny in your pocket. Whatever the path you decide to travel with your collection, remember that the best rule is to do your own thing.
However, if you want some ideas on where to start a coin collection, have a look at the suggestions below.
Interested in Ancient History
|Alexander the Great Silver Drachm||Constantine London Treasure||Greek Dolphin Money from Olibia|
|Septimus Severus Silver Denarius||Byzantine Coin of Christ Fine|
Interested in British History
|Edward I, Treasure Silver Penny (1272-1307)||George VI Collection||Elizabeth II, Complete Date Set of Sixpences|
|Type Set British Pennies||World War I (George V) Penny Collection 1914-1928||Victoria, Penny Set (Old Head) 1895-1901|
Interested in World History
|Maria Theresa Thaler Re-Strike||Mongolia, Genghis Khan Copper|
Gift ideas for coin collectors
Offering a collector a coin as a gift can be tricky. You will need to have at least some knowledge of what he/she collects and what coins does he/she already have on his/her collection. So unless you ask them directly what coin they wish to add to their collection, your chances of buying the right gift are fairly slim. Even if they do tell you what coins are missing in their collection, you might find that there is a reason why they are still missing. It could be because they rare and therefore difficult to find, or it could be that the coin they want is very sought after, having a market price that’s above your budget for a gift.
What you can buy, that most collectors will appreciate, since most of them are always in need, are supplies. Give them a nice coin album and encourage them to continue building their collection, or a better magnifier, so that they can better investigate their favourite coins.
If you know what and how they collect, it might be a good idea to offer them a book. Have a look at our book category page and see if there are any books they might find interesting based on the coins they collect.
Of course, if they have just recently started collecting coins the suggestions above might be a good starting point.