Collecting coins is one of those hobbies that gets more and more fascinating the more you look into it. Coins have a value that far outweighs their simple use as a unit of currency. For over 2,000 years coins have been a desirable object to keep as well as to spend, and a coin collection can become a family heirloom to pass on for posterity.
Coins are easy to store, they don’t break and they are small in size, so you don’t need to invest in a giant display case. It is very easy – and inexpensive – to start, and there are lots of different ways to build up a collection. Known as ‘The Hobby of the Kings’, you can devote as much or as little time as you wish to coin collecting. Spend a few minutes every week, join a club or simply dip in and out, as the mood takes you.
Why people collect coins
Everybody has their own reasons for starting a coin collection. Sometimes a baby is given coins as a birth gift, which can trigger a lifelong interest. Often the start point is a single coin that captures their imagination. Perhaps the design is particularly beautiful or is on a theme which has a special meaning. Coins make great souvenirs of travel, as they are a wonderful reminder of places you visit as well as revealing a lot about the culture and history of the country.
Coin collecting themes
A good way to start your coin collecting hobby is to choose a theme for your collection - choose something you are interested in, such as Royalty, the Military or History. This makes it much more personal and gives you a focus when seeking out new coins.
Other themes include buildings, transport such as ships, special events or historical figures. A wide theme like this is very easy to collect, as the coins can come from any period, be issued by any country and be any denomination, and you can be sure to find coins of interest to fit your budget. Your coin collection will be unique to you – a true reflection of your personality and interests, and you’ll find that particular coins will bring back very special memories of the time and place you bought them.
Types of Coin
Other collectors prefer to go for a particular type of coin, such as crowns or pennies, possibly trying to collect an example from different rulers, or different decades from the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
Some collectors like to specialise in gold coins, silver coins or ‘Piedfort’ – a double- thickness silver Proof coin. Often the precious metal coins come as limited editions with a signed and numbered Certificate of Authenticity.
One advantage of collecting a particular type of coin is that once your family and friends know your interest, they may buy coins for you as gifts to help you build your collection.
Another popular choice for coin collectors is commemorative coins, which are usually struck to celebrate a particular event. This is an ancient tradition, possibly started by the Romans who minted special coins to celebrate military victories.
This year the UK has a wealth of interesting events to celebrate, and there are special coins being issued for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the 100th anniversary of the maritime legend, Titanic and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.
The Royal Mint
With 1100 years of experience in striking coins, it is no surprise that circulating and commemorative coins produced by The Royal Mint are considered by many collectors to be the finest in the world because of the quality of design and high standard of craftsmanship. One of Europe’s largest coin museums is also located at The Royal Mint site in Llantrisant, South Wales, and is curated by experts in the field of coins and coin collecting. For these reasons, many people prefer to base their collections around UK and Commonwealth coins, which are all struck by The Royal Mint.
The real pleasure of coin collecting
Whatever your choice, the important thing is that your collection gives you real pleasure every time you look at it. You’ll be in good company. Coin collecting is one of the oldest hobbies in the world. The Sun King, Louis XIV, enjoyed the French Royal Collection so much that he visited every day, saying that he could ‘always find something new to learn’.
Young or old, it’s never too early or too late to start. All it takes is a single coin, and a sense of curiosity and wonder. Your collection may become extremely valuable, or it could simply have a priceless sentimental value to pass down to the next generation to inspire and delight them.