Coin collecting should be fun, and as long as you are having fun there are no real mistakes. That being said, there are ways to make coin collecting more enjoyable and help save money. More money = more coins!
1.) Not doing research.
Learning about coins is part of the fun of the hobby! If you aren’t learning about the coins you buy or find, then you are missing out on great learning opportunities.
Plus, doing research helps you get better prices, and learn more about the buying and selling aspect of the hobby.
By doing research, you can learn about key dates, errors, and mint marks that others may miss. This could give you a profit or help you add more rare coins to your collection.
There are many great resources online to learn about coins. You can also buy a coin collecting book. Two of the most popular coin collecting books are the Red Guide Book and the Blue Handbook, if you want to read a comparison of the two books go to “What is the Difference Between the Red and Blue Coin Collecting Books?”.
2.) Not organizing your collection.
Keeping your collection organized can be difficult at times. Especially if- like me- you enjoy taking your coins out to look at them.
Organization is important because it can help you spot if a coin is lost or stolen. Labeling coins can help you sell them or help people who may inherit your collection appropriately value the coins.
Storing coins properly will help prevent tarnishing and scratches that affect a coins value. If you want to read more about safe coin handling, check out “4 Essential Supplies to Handle and Store Coins Properly”.
3.) Focusing too much on trends.
This may be ironic coming from the person who has written articles condemning colorized coins and ranking ugly coins, but the most important part of your collection is making sure you enjoy every piece.
There are lots of things the general coin community likes to bash on, but if you enjoy them, go for it. Personally, I really like the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin and the Ozarks quarter! Fight me coin collectors!!
4.) Not checking your spare change.
There are sooooo many coins that can be found in your spare change. It is rare, but not impossible to find valuable old coins from coins you get as change.
You don’t need to check every handful of coins for minute errors, but giving a quick scan for silver, buffalo nickels, or older wheat-back pennies can be profitable.
If you get really into it, you can also start coin roll hunting! Coin roll hunting is when you get rolls of wrapped coins from the bank and search them in search of treasures. If you want to learn more about coin roll hunting, check out “What is Coin Roll Hunting?”.
5.) Focusing too much on precious metals.
Silver and gold coins are amazing. They combine precious metal collecting with coin collecting. Buying coins with a precious metal content is a good idea, because even if the numismatic value falls, they will still be worth the price of the metal.
Before you decide to focus solely on collecting coins made of silver or gold, I think it is worthwhile for any coin collector to learn about the appeal of other types of coins. Coins are also loved for their history, rarity, and intricate designs.
There’s nothing wrong with focusing on only silver coins. A huge collector favorite are the large silver-dollar coins. Being a coin collector led me to becoming a silverbug ;). (If you don’t know what a silverbug is, click here!)
6.) Being too afraid to spend money.
Of course, people sometimes overpay for coins, I did not add that to this list, because I felt like it was covered by “do your research”. People who research coins before purchasing are less likely to fall for scams.
It is possible to do too much research and never feel like you are getting good deals on certain coins. Think of it this way, let’s say a coin has a current book value of $15, but you can only find it for $20. You put off buying because the coin is overvalued. Now, the price may stabilize and return to $15, but you may also be left waiting forever.
Be careful when you research coin prices to see if the prices you are seeing reflect how coins are currently being bought and sold. For this reason, I do most of my price research from the “sold” listings on eBay.
Any big mistakes you made when you started collecting? Maybe you bought a fake coin, or lost all your coins in a tragic boating accident? Share a comment below and vote in our poll below!
7 thoughts on “Top 6 Coin Collecting Mistakes to Avoid”
Good advice. I started collecting years ago and have a decent collection of both base metal and silver coins, mostly foreign ones, and a very few small gold and platinum pieces that I managed to scrape together for. Not everyone understands the appeal of this hobby, just like any other hobby, but it’s a good time, and I hope by doing this I can leave some wealth (both in historical and material terms) to my hypothetical future children or grandchildren or whatever.
One idea I’ve found in collecting that annoys me is that there are right and wrong ways to collect. If you’re specifically trying to put sets of coins together with all the dates and types, then sure, there’s only one right way to do that, but there’s nothing wrong with just collecting whatever you like if that’s your goal. I’ve met people in this hobby who insist that you have to follow their particular rules about collecting, and I just don’t get that. In the end, it’s all about having a good time.
Agreed! I think many coins are overpriced, but I would never shame a collector for wanting them or having them in their collections. I have a very eclectic mix of coins and my ranking of MY favorite coins has little correlation to their value.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I remember in my first early days of coin collecting I really wanted a 1943 P Steel Wheat Penny, I went on Amazon because I didn’t know how overpriced the coins on Amazon are and I bought the coin I wanted for 4-5-ish bucks when the Steel Wheat Penny in worth $.70 at most, thankfully I’ve found eBay since then.
Agreed, eBay is best for buying coins. Amazon is good for supplies!
The primary things I find newbies do not do when looking for error coins is to understand the minting process and to learn about how dies are made.
You cannot hope to find an okapi for a pet if you have no idea what an okapi is.
You also cannot find a legit coin error if you do not know what a legit coin error is.
Almost everything people find and think is an error coin will be post mint damage. Ask coin forums regulars. So very many (many, many, many…did I say many?) damaged coins are posted by hopefuls wanting to be told they have hit the jackpot and all they have is a damaged coin. The overwhelming number of eBay non-error coin auctions and youtube clickbait videos have made this happen.
The biggest mistake I see is people thinking it is easy to get rich quick off of coins. I realize the economy is being manipulated to tank so people are desperate for money, and so they try to find any way they can to make an extra buck. Too many people see eBay auctions (not SOLD auctions) listing damaged coins for astronomical prices leading them to believe they are seeing actual collectable coin errors. So these people want to get in on the cash flow. The same people get on Youtube and see tons of click-bait videos showcasing rare coins, and making it seem easy to find these with just a little effort.
My saying is:
If you want to get a pet okapi, you need to know an okapi is.
If you want to find an error coin, you need to know what a mint error is.
In other words, commons sense says if you do not know exactly what an error coin is, then how can you expect to recognize one?
B/c people do not take the time to know the minting and die making process, they think anything odd looking on a coin was something done at the mint.
For example, people do not even stop to think the reason their panny has a mashed rim might just be b/c someone hit it with a hammer! Or, “hey there are extra letters on this coin…it has to be worth millions!” But they never take the time to note the letters are backwards and were pressed into the coin (like with two coins in a vise). But, then again, they quit teaching critical reasoning skills in public schools long ago, so it’s not all the newbies fault.
Find videos about the minting process. When something odd comes up, ask yourself if it could happen within that process. The mint only has coins in their possession for a very short time compared to the decades a coin can spend outside the mint being exposed and abused by an almost infinite amount of events. Most odd looking things are damage.
If you think you have a doubled die, you need to know there are forms of doubling that are not a doubled die and are very common. Look up die deterioration doubling and mechanical/strike doubling.
Forums used to be places where people discussed aspects of coins such as history, acquisitions, design details, etc. Nowadays forums are overrun with way too many, “Tell me I found a rare coin and am now rich,” posts where someone found a coin that someone took a hammer to, or nickel plated it, or cut it with a pair of metal shears. BTW those are actual examples. I have had the sad task of telling way too many people they will not be retiring, and I continue to do it to hopefully help people learn about the REAL coin hobby. I am not exaggerating at all when I say new posts to the forums I am on are typically more than half, and closer to 75% of this kind of post.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Very true! Many people look for errors not knowing what causes them.
LikeLiked by 1 person