South Cape Coins is South Africa's premier rare coin dealer

How to Start Your Rare Coin Collection on a Budget

Many would be coin collectors think that starting and maintaining a collection is expensive. Fortunately, this isn’t the case. We look at what you really need to get started and how you can go about collecting your first coins, all on a budget.

Many would-be coin collectors are put-off by the idea of this hobby because they believe it’s difficult to start and continue with unless you have a fair amount of money to spend. Fortunately, this isn’t the case at all. As with most hobbies, when you first try it out, it isn’t necessary for you to have all the expensive equipment that might go with it. You start out slowly and make sure it’s something you’re genuinely interested in before you launch yourself into it 100%.

You can start your coin collection by simply seeing what interesting coins you have at home, at flea markets and in antique or second hand stores. Don’t forget to also ask family and friends if they have any unique coins they’d like to contribute to your collection. 

As far as equipment is concerned however, there are a few essential items you need before you get started. Once again, it’s not necessary to overspend here, but you do still want to make sure you get quality products. This is what you’ll need:

1. A pair of soft cotton gloves.

Rare coins (especially those that are valuable) should never be handled with bare hands. This is because natural oils and dirt from your hands can easily damage a coin. Cotton gloves should be worn at all times when handling your collection and are inexpensive, easy to wash and can be reused. 

2. A magnifying glass.

This is vital and will enable you to see fine marks, scratches and details on coins that might otherwise be invisible to the naked eye.

3. Coin folders.

If the coins you start off with are low value then you can simply keep them in tissue paper or an envelope. Once you start adding valuable coins to your collection then you’ll need to invest in more adequate storage for them. PVC-free plastic folders are your best choice and you should be able to buy or order them from a coin shop or online. The good news is the cost remains fairly low.

If you’ve bought coins that have been officially graded, such as by the NGC or PCGS, then they will already be sealed in a tamper proof plastic case. Whatever you do, don’t open this case to get a better look at your coin, as this will render the coin grading invalid. 

When you start your collection you also need to think about the reasons behind it, because this will play a big role in how much you spend on your collection in the beginning and how much you plan to spend on it in the future.

Is it purely a pass time and you only want to collect coins that are unusual but have a relatively low value? Or do you intend on building up a collection of rare, valuable and graded coins as an investment or to pass on to your children or grandchildren? If this is the case, then your budget would need to be considerably higher than if you were merely collecting low value coins. Either way, when you first start out, the process is the same. Start slowly, stick to your budget and decide what coins you want to focus on for your collection before you start investing in more expensive specimens. Good luck!

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