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Coin Collecting Themes

Posted by Kevin Elliott on

Hey everyone just wanted to post some information I thought would be very helpful and educational regarding coin collection. Enjoy!

Below are themes that many collectors go by for the hobby or investment of coin collecting, but sometimes these themes are combined.

Some coins of Ceylon.

  • Country collections: One of the most popular themes for hobbyist and enthusiasts is focusing their collecting by a country or country. Most of the time they focus on their own country. In contrast, some collectors look to obtain a coin (or certain amounts of coins) from every country that has issued a coin. This way they can pick their favorite from all over the world and not have to worry about collecting every single coin that country published.
  • Year collections: Another very popular theme for collecting is by year. For example, one Memorial Lincoln Centfor every year from 1959 (the year it was first minted) to 2008 (the last year it was minted). One of the advantages of this method is that you are not tied down to a certain type of coin as many things fluctuate as years pass in between. Another reason that this is one of the, if not most popular theme is that it is cataloged heavily. You can find information regarding this type of theme more than any other since the majority of coin reference books and coin albums catalogue in the same manner.
  • Mint mark collections: Many collectors consider different mint markssignificant enough to focus on or add to their collection. Some collectors only want mint mark coins in their collection so they are very specific. Others tend to add these mint mark coins to this collection of annual coins for example, which makes their collection much bigger.  When collecting coins by year, this multiplies the number of Coins needed to complete a collection. Some mint marks are rarer than others, often increasing their value.
  • Variety collections: Coins can be minted generally in issues of or millions of any coin, that multiple sets of coin dies to produce the same coin are used. Occasionally these dies have slight differences and that leads to another theme of coin collecting. This was far more common on older coins when coin dies were hand carved. There are two types of differences that are used for this type of coin collecting theme - intentional or accidental which still exist today. Generally there differences are very small in detail. An example is the number of leaves on the ear of corn on the recent US Wisconsin state quarter.
  • Type collections: Another theme of coin collecting consists of major design variants for a period of time in one country or region. European coins for example have a "common side" that shows the denomination and a "national side" that varies in design from state to state within the Eurozone,  while another collector would focus on an unusual design feature such as coins with a hole in the middle or coins that are not circular in shape.
  • Composition collections: Some collectors theme of interest is the metallurgicalcomposition of the coin itself. For example, a collector might collect only bimetallic coins or precious metals s like gold, silver, copper and platinum. Some collectors will pursue historically significant pieces like the 1943 steel cent or the 1974 aluminum cent. (Note: the U.S. Government considers private ownership of the 1974 aluminum cent illegal.)

Coins featuring eagles.

  • Subject collections: Collectors with an interest in a certain theme like eagles in the above picture, or ships or buildings for instance.
  • Period collections: Some restrict their collections or focus on coins from a specific century (18th or 19th for example), while others look to collect ancient and medieval coins. Coins of RomanByzantineGreekorigin are amongst the more popular ancient coins collected. Along with this theme collectors will add or focus entirely on a particular ruler’s reign or coins just of that one particular figure. Collectors may also take interest in coins issued during the administration of a historically significant bureaucrat such as a central bank governor, treasurer or finance secretary. For example,Reserve Bank of India governor James Braid Taylor presided over the country's move from silver currency to fiat money. Coins reflect the events of the time in which they are produced, so coins issued during historically important periods are especially interesting to collectors.
  • Printed value collections: Some collectors model their collection around a specific printed value, for example the number 1 or 100. Their collection would consist of coins like the US 1 dollar coin, the Euro 1, 1 Indian rupee and the Canadian Loonie.
  • Volume collections (Hoards): Collectors will sometimes have an interest in acquiring large volumes of particular coins (e.g., as many pennies as they can fill in a bank, jug or safe). Because of the volume these usually are not high-value coins. Some collectors look at this as an investment strategy in the hope that the intrinsic value will increase.

A false 20 Lira coin, 1927. With the head of Benito Mussolini on the obverse, this is an obvious copy. Italian coins during the fascist period bore the portrait of King Victor Emmanuel III.

  • Copy collections: Some collectors enjoy acquiring copiesof coins, sometimes to complement the authentic coins in their collections. Copies might be:
    • contemporaneous ancient copies minted as official coins by other cities or rulers
    • contemporaneous ancient copies minted as counterfeits(often gold- or silver-plated) to fool merchants and consumers
    • contemporaneous modern copies minted as counterfeits to fool merchants and consumers
    • modern copies of older coins minted as forgeries to fool collectors
    • modern copies sold as replicas (sometimes marked as replicas, but not always)
    • modern copies minted to be displayed in museums instead of the originals
    • modern copies made with the intent to be used in jewelry
    • modern copies used as official circulating coins that pay tribute to the original coin
    • modern copies used as bullion collectable coins with the intent to pay tribute to the original coin
    • modern copies used as medals or tokens with the intent to pay tribute to the original coin


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