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The beginner's guide to coin collecting

Jan 31, 2012, 8:46 a.m.

Collecting coins has captured the imagination of people for as long as coins have existed. Although early collectors most likely sought coins primarily for the value of their metal, people have been attracted to them throughout the centuries for their beauty and intrigue. Imagining the many hands they have passed through, the routes they have traveled and items that were purchased with them brings collectors a special pleasure and connection to the past.

As you consider starting a coin collection, first think about why you are collecting. For some, it is purely an investment, whereas for others it is a rewarding hobby that brings the joy of building a unique collection. The serious investment collector has to be well educated in trends in collecting, centering his coin collection on ones that are predicted to rise in value. The hobbyist finds excitement in searching for coins that fit her collecting requirements and often does not consider pricing trends when purchasing coins.

If you are starting a collection purely for enjoyment, your first decision will be what exactly to collect. A coin collection can be built on an interest in history, art or a particular region of the globe. Some people enjoy commemorative issues, while others collect only from a specified time period or country. The choices are so vast that many collectors branch from one area to another over their years of collecting. They may sell or trade parts of their collection as their interests change.

Arming yourself with plentiful reference guides is essential for every beginning coin collector. The more you know, the smarter your purchasing decisions will be. A fantastic resource for every collector is the knowledge the masters of coin collecting have. Get to know your local coin dealers. As most of them are passionate about educating new collectors, they will happily share their amazingly vast knowledge. Going to coin shows is another way to network with experienced collectors, learning what to avoid, what hot in collecting and tips for building your own collection.

With the recent rise in precious metal prices, a flood of counterfeit coins resembling silver or gold have entered the market. These coins look just like collectible historic coins but have no precious metal content at all! This is just one of the warnings the experienced collector can make you aware of so you can avoid the pitfalls of collecting coins.

High value coins are best purchased from dealers with established reputations who guarantee their coins. The excitement of online auctions has great appeal for those collecting coins, as bargains abound. Just remember to consult your references and set limits so you don't end up regretting your purchase.

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