For as long as coins have existed people have been collecting them. Today coin collecting is a satisfying hobby for many people, and can be enjoyed quite easily and inexpensively.
This article offers helpful advice for those new to coin collecting, and provides useful information for the beginner about what to collect, how to care for your coin collection and where to find additional guidance and support. A wide range of coins for the serious collector or for someone just starting out is available through Australia Post’s network of Post Offices and its online store.
There are many reasons why people choose to collect coins. For history enthusiasts, coins offer a glimpse into the past and can tell unique stories about times gone by. Some collectors are fascinated by coin design and composition, while others are interested in coins that might appreciate in value, maybe becoming valuable heirlooms for future generations.
When it comes to collecting coins, there are no fixed rules. It is the personal decision of the collector, influenced by his or her own interests and motivations.
The main thing to remember is that starting a coin collection doesn’t have to be hard. Some people might want to begin their coin collection with the coins they handle on a daily basis.
This route allows you to learn all about modern coins and their history, and offers an introduction to the hobby without worrying about spending a lot of money.
The main thing for new collectors to remember is that collecting should be a fun and somewhat educational experience. As with most hobbies, knowledge is the key to success.
Regardless of what you decide to collect, the real enjoyment and value comes from learning everything you can about the particular coin or series of coins you are interested in.
Do some research and get acquainted with what coins are out there and the different ways and places you can purchase them. Find a good reference book, get online and search the web and maybe subscribe to some weekly and monthly publications about the area of coin collecting that you are most interested in.
A reputable reference point to invest in which will help you on your coin-collecting journey is an Australian coin catalogue, for example either McDonald’s or Renniks catalogues.
Coin collecting is very tactile and visual, so while the Internet is a great source of information, perhaps you might also like to visit your local coin shop or coin show to get a real feel for the coins up close.
Many Australian coin collectors chose to focus on either pre-decimal (pre-1966) and/or decimal issues.
Within both these categories there are a number of different types of coins you could choose to collect. For example, coins from key dates, variety coins (coins that have been struck with something different to the normal run such as without mint marks or being off-centre through being misstruck), or error coins that usually have a defect physically or structurally on the coin.
If you’ve decided to collect pre-decimal coins it is advisable that you should be able to determine the grade, or condition of the coin. The grade of a coin plays a huge factor in determining its value.
If you know the basics of coin grading you will be able to assess if a coin you are considering buying is priced according to its worth. It will also help you to determine its resale value. The Australasian Numismatic Dealers Association Grading Guide for Australian Commonwealth Coins would be a good resource to help start you on your “grading” journey.
Special collector coins are also manufactured by the Royal Australian Mint and the Perth Mint to celebrate significant events or mark important moments in history. These coins are produced without being intended for general circulation and therefore do not conform to the same restrictions as ordinary coins.
They often take on different shapes, weights and colours, but they are all still redeemable at face value (the number struck on the coin) at any Australian bank as they are Australian legal tender.
Proper coin care is essential to keep your collection’s value intact, so it’s important that you keep and store your coins safely from day one.
Coin Collection albums and folders are a good way for the beginner to organise and display a collection of coins. There are a variety on the market that will protect your coins from wear and handling, including albums with slots cut out to the size of the coin and others that have plastic slides that protect both sides of the coin.
Display cases are also a great option for storing your coin collection. They are available in sizes to hold just one or two coins or multiple coins. These cases are often made from materials including fine woods like oak, walnut or cherry with glass fronts so that you have a great view of your coins.
You should store your coins at a relatively constant, moderate temperature with low humidity. Moisture of any kind can damage a coin and may cause chemical reactions within the metal.
Avoid basements or attics, which tend to be either overly hot, dry and musty or damp and prone to water damage. Similarly, if storing in containers ensure they are watertight and will not let moisture in.
Where to go for more information
Getting involved with the coin collecting community will enable you to pick up handy tips, make friends and keep abreast of the current market conditions. Coin clubs, online coin forums and coin shows are ideal ways of getting involved.
Equally the Australian Mints offer helpful information for collectors and details on the coins they produce via both their website and direct mailing of newsletters and magazines.
Below is a list of useful sources of information: