This video is a breakdown of the five basic things you need to start collecting coins. These five things are not the only things you need but a good start into your journey of collecting coins. Some of the items in this video can be found at your local coin shop (LCS) or even big box stores like Staples or HobbyLobby (going out of business I hear). All of this stuff can be found on eBay (links below).
Item 1: A Loupe
A loupe is a good item to have on you at all times. You never know when you might need to look at a coin that just falls into your lap. I keep a loupe on me at all times one in my work bag, one in my car, one with my coins. Using a loupe is a good way to tell fakes from reals if you know what you are looking for.
Loupes com in many different magnification powers. You want to keep in mind that you do not choose a loupe that is too powerful 30x might a bit much and wont allow you to view the entire coin. Stick with 5x 10x and maybe even a 15x for your Loupe power.
Another thing to keep in mind is if your loupe has a built in light (LED). Sometimes these built in lights can through the color or toning off and make the coin not be as eye appealing. Natural light is the way to go OR many different light types if natural is not an option.
Item 2: Jewelry Scale
A scale is your second best defense to counteract all the fakes out there. Making yourself a cheat sheet of coin weights and keeping that on you or your scale is a must. Make sure to also keep the cheat sheet updated with slabbed coin weights. If you don’t own any slabbed coins from PCGS or NGC you can go to your local coin shop and ask to weigh their slabbed coins. 99% of the time those should be real.
Make sure you don’t spend a ton of money on a digital scale. Over time they will not be calibrated correctly and need to hit the trash.
Item 3: Digital Calipers
Digital Calipers are your last easy defense to sort out those fakes. Knowing the diameter of coins you are looking to collect is a must. You also need to know the proper thickness. One of the biggest ways coins are counterfeited is same diameter however much thicker to get the same weight.
Digital calipers can help determine all size aspects of the coin(s) in question. Keep in mind that you cannot measure the thickness of a slabbed coin. You are going to have to go with diameter and weight only.
Item 3a: Clear Ruler
This might sound stupid but a clear ruler is a low tech cost effective way to replace digital calipers. If you find a ruler with millimeters marks you can easily just place the coin under the ruler and get a very close ballpark measurement. Not much more to say about that other than why spend $20.00 bucks on Digital Calipers when you can just get a $2.00 ruler.
Item 4: STORAGE 2×2 Coin Flips
So I am going to break storage down into a few sub categories. This first category is in regards to 2×2 flips. 2×2 flips are a great way to store your coins as long as they are not made out of PVC. PVC plastic will destroy coins. NEVER USE PVC. Mylar 2 x 2 flips are what should be used they have no chemical product that will ruin your coins. 2×2 flips can be stored very easily in flip boxes or pages in binders.
Item 4a: STORAGE 2×2 Coin Flip Binder Pages
Once you have all your coins in 2×2 flips now its time to chose how you are going to sort them. Do you put them in binder pages like below to flip though and look at or do you put them in a box and forget about them for the long term investment / collecting? I do both. I have sets of coins that I keep in flips that are in binder pages like these and others that are just random coins kept in a box.
Either way both a great ways to store your coins and I would recommend both ways. Keep the coins you want to look at and build sets around in binder pages so you can easily reference them while other not set worth coins can just be filed away in a box.
Item 4b: STORAGE 2×2 Coin Flip Storage Boxes
Now that you have all your premium coins in binder pages and in a binder what do you do with those not so premium coins. Well you can do what I do and put them in 2×2 boxes. These boxes are great for storage and stack well in safes. Nothing says you have to use one of these boxes a simple Tupperware will also work. I just like to keep my coins organized; I even go as far as buying my boxes by color for different coins.
Item 4c: STORAGE Whitman us coin albums
So you want your collection to have a little more organization than just flips in pages or boxes. Well Whitman has the solution for you. These coin albums can get a little spendy but are TOTALLY worth it. These coin albums are great for collecting coins each predefined hole has a date and mint mark so you know right off hand what you are missing or have. I put a few of these together over the years just to have fun. Not all of them have to be sliver a lot are just standard US coins.
If you are going to put some of these together I would recommend working from current date backwards. It is easier and more fulfilling to fill an album easily and start your collection then struggle with older coins that could cost more money and slow down the collecting process.
Item 4d: STORAGE Electronic Safe
Now that you have all your coins in whatever storage media you desire you need to keep them safe. While these are not top of the line safes and some are not even fireproof it is still recommend that you keep your coins in a locked secure location that will keep prying eyes and sticky fingers out. Any safe can be broken into or stolen. The idea here is not to keep the true hardcore criminals out. It’s to keep the temptation away. If someone is going to go as far as to break into your house well they are going to take the entire safe. But if a 6 year old just learning about coins sees a stack of silver quarters and things they are just normal quarters and drops them into the gumball machine you might get a little upset.
I would say spend the $30 bucks and get a small piece of mind knowing your coins are “somewhat” protected.
Item 5: Knowledge / Coin Price Guide
Out of all the things listed in this top 5 this one is the biggy. I mean if you dont know what you are looking at to start with how do you know if you are paying a good price, if you are buying something collectible or being taken advantage of. Knowledge of coins can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Make sure you take whatever time you need to educate yourself on the coins you want. Know every aspect of the coins you want to collect including but not limited to:
key date coins, mintage numbers, price of coins, condition, demand etc. the list can be very lengthy. I would recommend starting with one type of coin you want to collect, for example, Morgan Silver Dollars. Read, learn, educated, and collect.
No matter what you do with your coin collection do it with passion and have fun. That is really at the core of coin collecting!