It’s easy to start a coin collection. You can begin with coins that you already have on hand.
Becoming a coin collector involves a common vocabulary. You’ll find basic coin terms in our coin term glossary.
Get familiar with the main elements of a coin.
Ways to Collect
There are many approaches to collecting coins. Common collection themes include:
- Time Period or Date
- Mint Mark and Minted Collections, such as proofs, uncirculated, mint sets, commemoratives or bullion coins
- Type Sets, such as the nickel type set that includes one of each four major types of U.S. nickels
- Subject, such as historical events, geo-political movements, aesthetic topics or denomination
- Printed Value
- Series, such as “Roosevelt dimes from 1946 to the present,” which requires collectors to acquire one coin from each year and from each Mint branch that produced the coin
Collecting U.S. Coins
Common collectible coins include:
- Program Coins
- Annual Coin and Proof Sets
- Uncirculated Sets
- Commemorative Coins
Special Edition Products
Periodically, the Mint produces special edition products, such as first-day coin covers, coin and die sets, partnership products and collector’s spoons.
Errors and Misstrikes
Although most error coins and misstrikes are recycled before they ever leave a Mint facility, the few that make it into circulation are often considered collectibles. Collectors classify these coins into three major categories:
- Die errors
- Planchet errors
- Striking errors
Within each, there are subcategories
- Off-center strikes
- Multiple-struck coins
You can learn more about errors and misstrikes through national coin error clubs, coverage of errors in numismatic publications, and the formal cataloging of Mint errors.
Build Your Collection
A combination of buying and finding coins can be a good way to build your collection.
Before adding a coin to your collection, consider:
- Is the coin appealing to you?
- How lustrous is it? There is no way to restore a coin’s shininess.
- Is it damaged? Scratches, bag marks, staple marks, and corrosion will decrease a coin’s value.
- How worn is it? Wear tends to be the biggest factor in determining a coin’s grade.
Buying and Trading Coins
Search through coin rolls from a bank.
Trade or buy coins privately or through coin clubs.
Coin dealers buy or trade coins. You may want to ask an experienced collector to suggest reputable dealers. Dealers may run shops and/or be found via coin shows, print/mail order or online catalogs.
The rarest and most expensive coins are often available only through auctions. Tip: compare prices to avoid overpaying and verify a reasonable return policy before ordering and ensure coins are satisfactory upon purchase or delivery.
Flea Markets, Antique Shows and Craft Fairs
Coins can be found at various events, but less competition can encourage inflated prices or selling “problem coins”.
Please note: The U.S. Mint does not recommend, regulate or endorse individual providers of goods or services.