The hobby of coin collecting draws in millions of people worldwide and is a pastime that is enjoyed by the young and old alike. While many enjoy the hobby and its usual objectives (to gather, study, and enjoy coins for their historical, political, social, artistic and, often, their investment value), there are those who do not know the ten interesting facts about the hobby below.
Fact# 1: Coin Collecting is an Ancient Hobby
While coin collecting is a contemporary hobby enjoyed by many people who collect modern coinage, coin collecting has roots which actually trace back thousands of years, to ancient kings and queens. Coin collecting has ubiquitously been dubbed "the hobby of kings," and while that term can apply to those few who can afford to buy rare coins and pricey investments, it also refers to the origins of the hobby and the royalty which engaged in early numismatics.
Fact #2: Coin Collecting is Not Just for the Rich
While coin collecting may be the hobby of kings, it need not be limited just to kings (or queens). In fact, anybody with a coin to spare can enjoy the hobby of coin collecting. Many coins can be purchased from coin dealers for only a slight inflation over face value, many U.S. coins dating back to the nineteenth century can be had for under $10.00, and foreign coins often cost little to purchase. Some coin supplies can be had virtually for pennies, many cost only a few dollars, and there are scores of educational books and magazines about the hobby, which can be found at most bookstores, at coin dealers, or online.
Fact #3: What is Numismatics?
Did the last word of Fact #1 make you do a double take? No problem, you would not be the first person to wonder what the word "numismatics" means. In fact, numismatics refers to the study of coins and money. Numismatists are those who engage in the study of coins.
Fact #4: There is a Major Organization for Coin Collectors
Did you know that the American Numismatic Association (ANA) is one of the most popular and respected coin organizations in the world? Chartered in 1891 and based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the American Numismatic Association is a revered organization and extends membership to all interested, for a relatively nominal charge. Benefits include a subscription to Numismatist, access to a large numismatic library, a catalog, the ability to submit coins for grading by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), and much more.
Fact #5: There Are Also Local Coin Clubs, Too
While being a member of the ANA is something some coin collectors may want to consider, there are plenty of local coin clubs, too, which can offer quainter, more intimate settings and often are targeted to meet the needs of area or regional collectors. Many of these groups have close ties with other groups, creating a network of coin clubs.
Fact #6: Coin Collecting is Educational
Coins can teach us many things, especially about history, politics, and society. For years now, coins have been the subject of many teacher's educational plans, for they can directly tie key points about any number of important school-related topics to a tangible item (a coin). It is somewhat widely known that many educators have made whole lesson plans based around the popular 50 States Quarter program (1999-2008), and much the same is being done with the United States Presidential Dollar coin series, which began last year.
Fact #7: Coin Collecting Can be Profitable
Okay, so you enjoy coins, but your goal is not to build lesson plans out of them---you have heard they can make you money, right? Well, hang on there; that notion can be true. While many coins have increased nicely in value over the years, many have not. What usually makes a coin valuable is its relative scarcity (issues surrounding supply and demand), its level of preservation, and its metal content---but not necessarily always a combination of the these components. A badly worn 1990 Jefferson nickel (with a mintage in the hundreds of millions) probably won't be paying for your children's college education, but a well-preserved 1890s Double Eagle (a U.S.-produced gold coin with a face value of $20.00) may be a nice investment, especially given the demand for such coins and the fact that gold has been performing well in recent months.
Fact #8: You Can Buy Collector Coins Straight from the Mint
The mint does not simply make money for commerce. In fact, both the United States Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint have large catalogs filled with coins, commemoratives, sets, and other items designed for coin collectors and others who appreciate fine numismatic workmanship. While the coins offered in these catalogs will cost you more than face value, they are worth the cost, because these fine mint products prove to be treasured keepsakes that many pass on down through the generations, and some have increased in value over the years.
Fact #9: Be Wary of Buying Coins from Infomercials
You may have seen television infomercials and glossy ads in some magazines offering coins for sale. Usually they are advertised as "last chance offers," "rock-bottom prices," or some such. Be careful---many of these ads are selling coins that are way overpriced, not exactly as promised, or offer coins which can always be purchased somewhere else. Refer to a coin value guide, read numismatically educational books and peruse coin-related websites, and wise up on what you are buying before you jump at any such advertising, particularly before buying coins from ads seen outside of numismatic-related publications.
Fact #10: There is a Patron Saint for Numismatists
Believe it or not, there is a patron saint for numismatists. Saint Eligius, born around 588, lived in France and was a metal worker. He died circa 659.
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