Is Coin Collecting an Expensive Hobby?

Coin collecting has a reputation of being a very expensive hobby. The reason coin collecting is seen as an expensive hobby is because we hear many stories of coins being worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

In reality coin collecting can be a very cheap hobby, or expensive depending on what you decide to collect.

I have broken the stages of coin collecting into 4 categories: The Starter, The Beginner, The Intermediate, The Expert. All of which come with a list of tools or items collectors at these levels often use.

I would recommend a beginner start with the cheapest options before buying expensive coins. This helps ensure you have more skills to identify valuable coins and get good deals.

The Starter

The cheapest way to get into coin collecting is to start by collecting modern coins in circulation. They won’t be worth much anytime soon, but it is a fun treasure hunt. Plus, although the coins you find may not rise in value, they don’t lose their value either.

Collecting coins by year, the ‘America The Beautiful’ National Parks Quarter Series, or the State Quarter Series is a good way for a beginner to start. You can do this completely free by storing them in a box or drawer, but it may be worth it to spend a few dollars on an album to keep yourself organized.

I recommend most beginners start with coin roll hunting, as it is the cheapest way to get lots of coins. To read more about coin roll hunting, Click Here!

A Starter Likely Has:

The Beginner Collector

The Beginner Collector is someone who probably already has a few coins or is very determined to begin collecting coins.

A beginner is not just interested in having coins, but also increasing their knowledge. They want to have a mix of coins both in circulation and not circulating.

A beginner collector is still finding most of their coins in circulation, but may intentionally look for more rare dollar coins and half dollars. They may also be interested in purchasing coins probably in the $1-$50 dollar range either online or at a local coin shop.

A beginner likely has:

The Intermediate Numismatist

This is a coin collector who has been collecting for a while. They are very knowledgeable about coins in circulation and many coins that are no longer minted.

The Intermediate Numismatist has a good idea of grading, values, mintage numbers, and common errors.

This is a collector who is willing to spend more money to get a coin they like. Most coins an intermediate collector collects are probably not found in circulation. (Although this isn’t true for everyone!)

Very important to an intermediate collector now that they have amassed more valuable coins is storage safety. Because this collector likely has a few coins worth over $100 it is important they know how to properly store them from thieves and damage. One great option for storage is a diversion safe. (Click here to see my top picks for diversion safes!)

An intermediate collector likely has:

The Expert Numismatist

This is someone who has been in the game a long time. More than a hobby, coin collecting may now be a career as they have an eye for grading and appraising coins.

This type of coin collector is interested in high quality coins and high quality equipment. They are very knowledgeable in storage methods and handling.

This collector likely has a specialty which they collect. It may be ancient coins, commemorative half dollars, gold coins, error coins, etc.

This collector may have everything the beginner and intermediate collector has, plus:

Coin collecting is a great hobby and no one should feel like it is too expensive for them to start. If you can afford a few pennies, then you can be a coin collector. There are many fancy gadgets and informational materials, but those item’s aren’t what make a coin collector.

A coin collector is simply someone who owns and is interested in coins! Whether you have a few common coins or hundreds of expensive coins, you are still a numismatist.

Share any comments below and vote in our poll!

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A Wheat Penny from a Roll of Pennies

What Makes Coin Collecting a Great Hobby?

For the uninformed, coin collecting may seem like a boring hobby. After all, most people touch dozens of coins a day and have never become interested in coins. If you dig a little deeper, you will find that there is much to love about the hobby.

Since coins have been around, they have been stored for their bullion value which is the value of gold, silver, and other precious metals. It wasn’t until the 14th Century that coins began being stored for their artistic and historical value as well.

During the Renaissance Era, kings, queens, and nobility began collecting coins as a sign of wealth. The Italian scholar Petrarch is the most notable and knowledgeable coin collector of the time.

Possibly because only nobility could afford to purchase and store coins for long amounts of time, coin collecting became known as “The Hobby of Kings”. As always, it was not long before the middle class began emulating this behavior and started collecting coins.

Coin collecting prevails to this day; a great hobby for the young and old. Keep reading to discover what makes coin collecting a fun and enjoyable hobby for millions of people around the world.

What Draws People to Coin Collecting Today?

I have friends ask me all the time what makes me so addicted to coins. There are many reasons I love coin collecting, it’s a hobby that is always evolving while still maintaining a sense of history and traditionalism.

Below is my list of the best parts about coin collecting. All these are aspects which drew me into the hobby and keep me interested in it. I think most numismatists will agree that this hobby has many facets and there are always new coins to enjoy and discover.


Coins are rich with history. Each coin is a product of the year, political climate, and social trends of the time. People who study coins are called numismatists. The study of coins can tell us a lot about a time period.

By the metal composition, we can know the resources in a surrounding area. This could also inform us of trade routes and the wealth of the country producing them.

By the art, we can get a sense of what was important to people of the time and what traits the government wanted its citizens to value. We also see what political figures were honored.

Even the condition of coins can tell us about the economy during a certain time period. The more worn down a coin is, the more it was used in circulation. Using this analysis, a scholar can figure out what denomination was used most at a certain time. This could help track inflation in history.


Coin collectors have their own economy to price coins. Coin prices change every year depending on trends in the hobby. Coins can be bought and sold for thousands of dollars.

A buyer can speculate on the price of coins, buying a coin with the plan to sell it at a later date at a higher value, or a buyer can look for discounted coins with the goal of immediately flipping the coin for a profit. Many people have made businesses on the buying and selling of coins.

That is not to say that becoming a coin dealer is easy. It takes years of learning to develop a good eye for well-priced coins. Most dealers start as collectors, who after enough years amass enough knowledge to begin successfully selling.


Coin collecting is it’s own community; whether online or in-person, coin collecting has brought generations of different people together.

There are hundreds of ways to meet like minded people who are interested in coins. Reddit, coin shops, coin forums, coin events, word of mouth, family members, all places are great for finding others who value coins.

The best part about the coin community is that we are bonded by a common interest. Within that, everyone has their own expertise. There is very little one-upmanship, most coin collectors are eager to share their knowledge for the sake of teaching another human being about coins.

Store of Value

Some collectors are less interested in the art of a coin, but the coin’s metal composition. Before 1964, many US coins were made for circulation with silver. Since then, silver has increased in value to make a silver quarter worth about $3!

If we look back even farther in US History, coins were minted in gold. In the early 1800’s, gold was worth about $18.93 per troy ounce. Today, the same amount of gold is worth about $1,866!

Some collectors keep coins as a hedge against inflation, or to protect themselves against a crash of the US dollar.


Most coin collectors are interested in the hobby as a life-long pursuit, buying a few coins a year and storing them. Eventually, the coins are passed on, usually through family members. Although some families choose to liquidate the collection, many treasure the coins as a memory of their family member.

It’s easy to get kids interested in coins by setting them up with a coin folder and a roll of coins to search though. I remember my grandfather giving me a State Quarter Folder when I was 9 years old that I still have today!

Promise of Treasures

I am always learning about new types of coins, errors, and varieties. The idea that I may have a coin already in my collection that could be worth hundreds is very exciting. Perhaps, if you took the time to look through even the change in your car you could find something valuable.

One of my favorite pursuits in coin collecting is the activity of coin roll hunting. This is where you get rolls of coins from the bank and search them for treasures. It is a cheap and easy way to find new coins for my collection. (Click Here to Learn More About Coin Roll Hunting.)

If you are looking to start coin collecting, I would recommend getting the proper supplies. This article on the Essential Items to Handle and Store Coins should help.

I would also recommend a new collector purchase a Red Coin Collectors Guidebook. You can read more about why I recommend this book by clicking here.

Anything I missed? Add a comment below and share what makes you love coin collecting!

Coin Collecting Popularity Header

Is Coin Collecting a Dying Hobby?

Do people still collect coins?

You have probably never heard people on the bus, or a National Television Show talking about coin collecting. Perhaps you have one friend or an older family member who collects coins. You may wonder, “Is coin collecting a dying hobby?”

To judge the popularity of coin collecting, we will look at trends in Google Search History. This tells us roughly how the number of people searching “coin collecting” is changing.

Looking at Google Search Interest from 2004 to 2020, it does look as if coin collecting is becoming less popular.

A clear downward trend in searches for “coin collecting”.

We can compare more than one search on Google. Let’s see what happens if we compare “coin collecting”, “valuable coins”, and “rare coins”.

Comparing searches for coin collecting to rare coins and valuable coins.

Searches for “coin collecting” are in blue, “valuable coins” in red, and “rare coins” in yellow.

Coin collecting has a clear downward trend. Rare coin searches are also falling, but not as steeply as coin collecting. On the other hand, searches for valuable coins has stayed the same.

What this all means

Coin collectors are increasingly becoming more focused on coins as a store of value or as a way to make money than for their historical significance.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, lots of coins are a great store of value due to their precious metal content. Collectors may become interested first for the metal and then become more interested in history as they get more involved in collecting coins.

It does mean that the market for coins is changing. Coin collectors may prefer to buy a Mercury dime for the silver instead of a Buffalo Nickel for the history.

The Upside

Coin collecting is not considered the “Hobby of Kings” for nothing. Although 2004 to 2020 may seem like a long time, coin collecting has been around since the Renaissance Era in the 14th Century.

All activities have long-term trends where they may become more or less popular. Perhaps tomorrow Billie Eilish will come out with a new song about how much she loves Standing Liberty Quarters and a whole new generation of coin collectors will be born!

Buy Gold and Silver

On a Personal Note

I’m 23 years old, at this age, none of my friends are interested in coins. Sometimes, when I mention I collect coins a friend will tell me that one of their parents collects coins as well.

Recently, my 13 year old cousin has begun collecting coins. I am so excited for her, as it shows a great depth of interest in history and economics. I definitely plan on sharing my collection with her.

Even more exciting, is that my grandfather, who is 81 years old and an avid coin collector, now has two grandchildren interested in coin collecting. Whenever I see him he now asks me how my coin collection is coming and offers to share information with me.

More exciting yet again, my grandfather inherited and learned much of what he knows about coins from his father! So, because my great-grandfather collected coins, he created another 3 generations of coin collectors!

Coin collecting probably won’t be the hip trend of 2021, but the hobby is not going to disappear completely. If you are worried about coin collecting losing popularity the best thing you can do is get others interested, especially young people!

If you are interested in collecting coins, check out: 4 Essential Items to Store and Handle Coins Properly!

If you have a friend or family member who collects coins check out my top 10 gifts for coin collectors!

Share your thoughts in the comments and vote in our poll!

Coins on Wrappers

Is Coin Roll Hunting Profitable?

Coin roll hunting is like a sport for numismatists. I have spent countless hours with boxes of coins searching for anything that would make a good addition to my collection.

Whether you are a coin collector or not, you have probably wondered if you can make money by coin roll hunting. It sounds easy on paper, simply find a valuable coin and cash in on potentially thousands of dollars!

In reality, few people make money coin roll hunting. The good news, is that you can coin roll hunt without losing any money and increase your potential for making money.

First, know what to look for.

Each denomination has its own unique characteristics that add value. As you begin searching, you will have to at the same time increase your knowledge of coins.

You can look for silver, errors, and low mintage numbers. Silver is easiest to learn, as you can usually go by the year. Quarters and dimes minted before 1965 are all 90% silver. Profit!

Errors are more difficult. Errors are damage that happen while the coin is being minted. There is almost never any extra value added to coins damaged after they have left the mint. A flaw that the coin obtains after it has left the mint is called post-mint damage, or PMD. Learning about the process of how coins are made will make it easier to know what kind of error you have.

Low mintage coins can be in very high demand. You can make decent money by selling these coins on Ebay. To know what coins are low-mintage you can look at the mintage numbers online or use a book that tells you the mintage numbers. Remember, to check the mintage you need the coins year and where it was minted.

How to cut down costs.

You want to reduce costs so that even if you don’t find any valuable coins, you can return the coins to the bank for the same value you got them for.

First, get your coins from the bank. It may be tempting to buy ‘unsearched’ coin rolls on Ebay, but this is the more expensive route. Sellers will charge you for shipping which is expensive, then they add a premium for calling the roll ‘unsearched’. It is very rare that the roll you buy off Ebay is actually un-searched, and even more rare that you will find anything valuable.

When you are done searching, wrap the rolls yourself by hand to return them to the bank. You can get coin wrappers on Amazon in bulk for decent prices, or ask your banker for coin roll wrappers.

Coin Roll Wrappers: Pennies, Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters

If you are looking to make money off this hobby, I would not recommend using a CoinStar. Although CoinStar’s are convenient, they are very expensive. If you do opt to use a CoinStar, convert the coins into a gift-card instead of cash to avoid the 11% fee. You could also donate the money to charity and use it as a tax write off.

Is it worth it to save copper pennies?

One way hunters try to make money is by saving all pre-1982 pennies. Pennies minted before 1982 are made of 95% copper and only 5% zinc. Depending on the price of copper, a penny could be worth more than a penny.

Although this sounds easy, there are many logistical problems.

You would need a lot of pennies to make any money at the current price. As of today, the best price for copper is about $2.75/lb. You would need 153 pennies to have a pound of copper. So, you would have a profit of about $1.22 cents per pound of pennies.

That means you would need about 82 pounds of pennies to make $100. If that sounds easy to you, also consider that you would have to store and transport 82 pounds of pennies. (Plus, 2.75 is for very pure copper, you may get less for pennies unless you purify them yourself.)

If you believe strongly that copper prices will go up considerably, then hoard copper pennies. If it sounds like too much work then don’t lose any sleep over returning copper pennies to the bank.

But is Coin Roll Hunting Profitable?

In general, I would say it is not as profitable as most people hope. It does however, not cost anything when done correctly.

Most coins are only worth a few cents or dollars over face value, barely enough to cover the cost of selling. You could likely make more money flipping coins.

I love and completely recommend coin roll hunting, but do it because you love coins, not to make a quick buck.