skip navigation


Sign Up for E-mail Updates

Facebook Twitter Pinterest YouTube RSS
Standard View

Getting Started

It's easy to start a coin collection.  You can begin with coins that you already have on hand.  Check your pockets, wallet, desk drawers and under the sofa cushions.  Most people are surprised to discover the variety of coins hiding in their home's forgotten nooks.  Then, ask friends and relatives if they have any old or unusual coins to contribute.

To organize and display your collection, you may want to purchase one or more coin albums.  Some are custom-made for specific coins, such as Kennedy Half Dollars; other albums hold all denominations.  Additional storage and display options include paper envelopes, plastic tubes, slabs, flips and Mylar® staple holders.  See "Storing and Displaying Coins" for more information.

Learning how to become a coin collector also means learning a new language.  Coin collectors use a common vocabulary to discuss coins.  Special terms are used to describe a coin's condition, value and what it looks like.  See "The Anatomy of a Coin" and the "Coin Term Glossary."

Tools of the Trade

Here are the basic tools you'll need to get started building and organizing your coin collection:

  • A high-quality magnifying glass so you can look at a coin's tiny details.
  • A padded jeweler's tray, plush towel, or some other soft cloth to set coins on when viewing them.
  • A plastic ruler that measures in inches and millimeters.  Avoid hard, metal rulers that may scratch your coins.
  • A good general coin reference book.  It should include information on dates, mint marks, major varieties, grading guidelines and prices.
  • Good lighting, such as a halogen lamp.
  • Soft, cotton gloves.
  • Coin envelopes, holders or albums for storing your coins.

Collecting Basics
The Department of the Treasury Seal
st-5