As keen numismatists and celebrators of all things commemorative, it’s no surprise that we love coin collecting at The Royal Mint. However, we were interested to find out just how common this passion is - which is why we recently commissioned a survey into attitudes towards collecting as a hobby.
How Popular is Collecting?
The results are in – and we were delighted to discover that we’re not alone! Of the 2,000 UK-based adults we surveyed, over 4 in 5 (83%) said that they’ve collected something in their lifetime. Furthermore, some of these collections must still be going strong, as 57% of our survey respondents currently have an active collection.
So, which items are the people of the UK most likely to hold onto?
It’s no surprise to us that coins are one of THE most popular items for collectors. Over a third of those surveyed share our passion, whether they’re actively purchasing commemorative sets, or just keeping an eye on their change for the latest limited-edition 50p.
This makes coins the second most popular collectable just after stamps, which topped the results with 38%. Fridge magnets, books and vinyl records made up the remaining top five items that Brits love collecting.
However, not everybody is so predictable. Some of the more unusual items that popped up in our results included menus from Greek restaurants, whiskers from a pet cat and toilet roll tubes. One devotee even admitted to collecting wrestlers’ underwear!
While a lot of collections include low-cost items such as postcards, shells or mugs, some collections can get pretty pricey. The average amount spent amongst our surveyed collectors is around £1,500 - but 3.5% of people admit to spending upwards of £10,000.
Why Is Collecting So Popular?
So, what is it that drives people to start and maintain their collections? The most popular reason is a simple one: almost half are just for fun. Over a third of collectors (37%) say that they started because of a genuine interest in whatever it is they’re collecting, while 1 in 5 want to collect items to remind them of a particular time or event. This sense of commemorating was certainly popular, with almost 30% saying that their collections make them feel nostalgic – which may be one of the reasons that our childhood character coin collections are so popular!
Another benefit for collectors seems to be the possibility of passing their items onto their children or other family members. Interestingly, this is how 1 in 5 collections begin, with coins and stamps being the most popular items that have been passed down through the generations. Over 1 in 3 see their collections as part of their legacy, and almost 1 in 4 said that they’ve collected things that they believe their children will benefit from in terms of inheritance. With so many of our commemorative coins celebrating key moments and people in history, it’s easy to see why these mementos are desirable as family keepsakes.
For others in our survey, starting a collection offers the opportunity to meet new people, with over 12% saying that they’ve made new friends through their hobby (something that members of our Facebook Swap Shop Group would likely agree with!).
Getting Started with a Collection
With all of these benefits, it’s little surprise that 1 in 6 of those asked are interested in starting up a brand-new collection. If this includes you then you might be wondering where to begin. Our Beginners’ Guide to Coin Collecting is a great place to start, offering lots of practical advice on collecting coins. The wider coin collecting hub is also filled with helpful resources on numismatics. From mintage figures and a coin glossary to guides on coin collecting for children, you’re bound to find something of interest.
If you are already a coin collector or if you’re feeling inspired to start, The Royal Mint’s coin collecting hub can answer your questions. Want to ask us something different? Tweet us with the hashtag #TreasureForLife to join in the conversation and find out more about the wonderful world of coins!