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Coin Collecting: A beginners’ guide

So what is coin collecting?

Coin collecting – or ‘numismatics’, to use its technical term – can be a very rewarding past time. We know of many collectors who have taken up collecting after inheriting a collection from their family, and it is certainly a hobby that unites the generations in a shared fascination with the past – and did you know it is one of the world’s oldest hobbies?

Whatever type or period of coinage you enjoy, coin collecting combines the thrill of the chase with a thirst for digging deep into history – Once the hobby of Emperors and Kings, now everyone can enjoy this wonderful trip into history.

As a collector, you’ll become part of a wider community of coin enthusiasts who are generally more than happy to share information and expertise. You can also draw on organisations like ourselves (The London Mint Office), who offer exceptional coins, a convenient collectors’ service and a guaranteed no-obligation viewing period so you can hold history in your hands before you decide on purchasing. 


So how do you start collecting coins?

The first thing to decide is what you would like to collect. It is always good to narrow down your collecting to a specific theme or topic, as trying to collect coins on many different themes or from many different eras can prove overwhelming. If you define a certain theme or topic, you are far more likely to be able to complete a collection over time and then perhaps move on to a different subject or period.


Collecting by theme

Taking a thematic approach can be a particularly exciting way to collect coins. Following the recent celebration of both the Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee as well as Her Majesty & Prince Phillip’s Platinum Wedding Anniversary there has never been such an exciting time to collect royal themed coins.

Platinum Wedding

Some collectors however choose to collect circulating coins and commemoratives relating to previous royal reigns while others specialise in particular sources – royal coins from the Commonwealth, for example. Demand for such coins tends to reach a peak around the time of a great royal event or anniversary. The beauty of a themed collection is that you can always add to it with commemorative coins marking a royal milestone or birth, for instance, and that you document history for the next generations.

The London Mint Office offers a number of popular collections that would be difficult if not impossible for an individual collector to source. Some such as the ‘Royal Maundy Collection’ or ‘The Empire Collection’ follow a royal theme, while others centre on such diverse subjects.


Collecting coins in precious metals

Depending on the size of your budget, you may wish to specialise in specific precious metals when you collect coins. Some countries are famous for their Gold- and Silver coins, others are less well-known but also issue stunning coins in precious metals.

South African gold, for example, has been renowned for its quality for many years and the South African ‘Krugerrand’ is one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’, the seven most famous Gold coins in the world. Collecting all of these seven Gold coins does not take too long, but it can be challenging. Some of the Gold coins in this collection are regularly sold out at the State Mints issuing them and the number of Gold coin collectors is constantly rising, despite Gold becoming more and more precious.

The rise in the Gold price may be the reason why miniature Gold coins are proving so popular among coin collectors. With a diameter of only 11-13 mm, these coins are minted in solid Gold but are still affordable. The small size is a challenge for the minting process and only the most experienced mints in the world are issuing these small sizes. It is fascinating how detailed the designs can be on such small formats and many collectors have specialised in these small Gold coins for the sheer pleasure of owning such fabulous pieces of minting art. The London Mint Office offers such a coin with it Brilliantly Uncirculated Sovereign – Click here to find out more.


Collecting by currency

The collecting of vanishing currencies and coin motifs has hit new heights in recent years. Currency is ever changing and as soon as a legal tender coin disappears, demand for it tends to grow. Many collectors are currently turning to the pre-euro currencies of countries in the European Union, while others make a point of collecting every new euro issue as it becomes available.

Again, The London Mint Office offers collections that bring together such coins in one place – sometimes historic, such as The Changing Face of British Coinage Set which contains the complete set of our pre-decimal coins. British Silver commemorative coins also form the basis of popular London Mint Office collections, and some collectors are systematically buying all year sets, which contain all the different British coins issued in one year.

There is also a thriving market for paper currency, a comparatively recent innovation in the history of money yet one that is richly collectable. In inflationary times, high-value banknotes can be printed and circulated and very quickly withdrawn, making them collector’s items for years to come. This is a highly specialised area that is ripe with possibilities for the committed collector. The London Mint Office recently produced the first one pound bank note in copper featuring Sir Isaac Newton- It could be yours free- Click here to find out more.


Collecting historic coins

When you rub a Britannia penny between your fingers you are touching something that during its lifetime went through thousands, if not millions, of pairs of hands. Much of the joy in collecting historic coins is in imagining the tales that they could tell.

When you collect coins from a particular period, it comes to life in a way that no history book can ever quite capture. Studying the symbols, inscriptions and abbreviations displayed reveals much about the times in which they were made and circulated: think of the changing image of Britannia over the centuries, for example, or the way that Roman emperors were depicted across 500 years of coinage.

Old coins often have an aesthetic value that is just as important to collectors as their historical interest or rarity. Some are works of art in their own right, crafted by the finest engravers, designers and sculptors of their time, and are collectable on these grounds alone.

With our customers and collectors in mind, The London Mint Office specialists are often able to purchase coins found during archaeological excavations or as a result of accidental discoveries. In some cases, the very story behind their discovery can add intense interest and actual value to the collecting of particular coins, such as the hoarding of Russian Silver coins during Stalin’s reign of terror – when the penalty for discovery was death – or the capturing of caches of currency during wartime raids.


Collecting by coin type

Another easy way to start collecting is by choosing a specific coin or denomination – anything from a humble penny to a Gold Sovereign – and building a complete collection of year dates.

Gold Sovereigns are especially popular, not only with British collectors but all over the world. Going back in history to acquire the old issues as well as the new ones is a fascinating way of documenting the rich history of our nation. The London Mint Office have issued a Sovereign each year since 2017 designed by Angela Pistrucci, descendant of the original designer Bendetto Pistrucci – Click here to find out more.

For more of a challenge, try researching the different issues of obsolete coins such as pre-decimal halfpennies or ‘bits’ and starting a collection from there. Even among such commonly available coins there are rarities to be hunted down together with the occasional ‘error’ coin that made it to circulation before being quickly withdrawn.


As you can see there are so many ways to get involved in the wonderful world of coin collecting! We can help you get started- Visit our Website to find out about many of the exciting coins we have to offer: https://www.londonmintoffice.org/

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