Expert tips for rare coin enthusiasts: how to become a better coin collector
By Michael McConnell
Many coin collectors get started as mere hobbyists. But as the thrill of the hunt for rare coins begins to build, some decide to go a step further and try to become better coin collectors. As noted in a recent piece for Coin Week magazine, there are steps that even inexperienced collectors can take to improve their intuitive skills. Whether you are just starting out or have been collecting for decades, the following tips will help you develop greater discipline and expertise – and perhaps even establish the building blocks for greatness.
- Focus your collection: In the first rush of excitement, new collectors are apt to spread themselves too thin. Resist the temptation to collect everything, and instead center your energies upon a specific goal. This strategy will both conserve funds and keep your collection from getting sloppy. For ideas about collection themes and types, take a look at our past articles.
- Specialize your research: Once you have narrowed down the scope of your collection, study as much as you can about the coins in the series. Research topics might include the history, rarity and availability of the collection – and for those who choose lesser-known areas of study, this work can even form the basis for a book or web guide.
- Get to know reputable dealers: Don’t rely on E-Bay and online bidding sites alone. Establish a relationship with one or two dealers, and take advantage of their knowledge and expertise to track down elusive pieces and learn more about your collection.
- Think like a collector – even when it comes to investments: As we have discussed in past columns, it can be difficult and unreliable to use coin collecting as a source of investment security and revenue. That said, collectors who know their collections often wind up making money without trying, simply because they understand when and how to buy coins – not to mention the value of holding on to rare pieces.
- Appearance matters: Barring extremely rare or in-demand coins, never purchase an unattractive coin. Most of the time, you’ll be able to find one that is in better condition – and there’s no value in settling for less.
- Invest in quality pieces: When it comes to the coin market, good coins will attract multiple buyers – and subsequently, demand higher prices. Don’t overpay, but don’t expect a bargain either. Consult an experienced coin dealer to get a good sense of fair prices.
- Go with your gut: Trust your instincts, and don’t make purchases that don’t resonate with you from the outset. Same goes for dealers: make sure to work with dealers you trust, and don’t let an unscrupulous dealer talk you into a transaction.
- Study pricing for your series: With the exception of very rare coins, most series’ can be accurately priced with a bit of online research. Get to know the right prices for your series, and you’ll save yourself the risk of under-pricing…or over-paying.
- Patience is a virtue: Creating a great coin collection is about the experience, not the speed with which you locate the coins in your series. Be patient and enjoy the hunt: it may take weeks, even months to track down the right piece for your collection, but it will be worth the wait every single time.
- Don’t worry about becoming a grading expert: Realistically, you won’t learn to be an expert grader – so don’t fret over the gaps in your knowledge. Instead, learn what you can, and then visit a qualified coin dealer for the most accurate information.
Here at The Coin Shop and San Diego Coin & Bullion, we wish all of San Diego’s rare coin collectors the best of luck with their work. To learn more about any of the above tips, sell gold or speak with an experienced San Diego coin dealer, get in touch today: www.sandiegocoin.com.
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