From casual collectors to specialists – where do you fit?

Rare Coins

Coin collecting habits (and collectors, for that matter) come in all shapes and sizes, and people collect various types of coins along the way.

With those various collecting practices come labels for different types of collectors. Some people dislike labels, but it can certainly help to know which sort of coin collector you are and which coins you are most interested in. Additionally, it can help you to easily find others that share in your specific interests.

So, let’s answer the question: Which type of collector are you?

Based on Enthusiasm:

Here are a few labels used to identify coin collectors based on their respective enthusiasm for the hobby; in other words, how much effort they generally put into collecting their coins. Those labels include:

  • The Casual Collector - Casual coin collectors typically rely on finding coins by chance. This could mean searching through pocket change for a notable coin or holding onto foreign currency while on a trip.

  • The Hobbyist - Hobbyist collectors are often casual collectors who have chosen to take their collection to the next level. This means that finding coins randomly isn’t enough for the hobbyist collector, and he or she may choose to actively buy coins from mints or dealers to create a collection.

  • The Generalist - General collectors are defined as having a collection that shows a lot of depth and variety. This means the collection contains coins from numerous countries, from various time periods, and with different historical significance.

  • The Specialist - Specialist coin collectors typically focus on a specific coin, country, or historical period when it comes to building their collection. This could include a coin series, theme, coins with errors, etc. There are hundreds of themes or series around on which a specialist collector could base his or her collection.

Based on Coins Collected:

Other collector labels are based on the types of coins that a collector chooses to focus his or her collection on. These sorts of labels are numerous, and include:

  • Type Collector - Type collectors are those who choose to collect one example of every coin, denomination, metal, or specific design from a particular time period. Type collectors choose to focus less on collecting every coin in a particular series or with a particular mintmark and more on collecting examples that each belong to one time period. For example, a type collector may set out to collect one of each coin from the 21st century.

  • Error Collector - As the name states, error collectors focus their attention on finding coins that contain minting errors. Errors in coin making can be numerous, and can include double dies, coins that have been partially struck, coins that have not been struck at all, or coins that have been clipped during the minting process. There are numerous collectors and dealers that choose to focus their coin collecting on error coins.

  • Novelty Collector - Novelty coin collectors focus on coins that have somehow been altered after the minting process to give them a novel quality that sets them apart from most circulated coins. For example, colorized copies of the 50 states’ quarters can be bought and sold online, but the color is not added during the minting process. Instead, private individuals or companies add the color in later to create the novelty. While many numismatists do not collect novelty coins, there is still a large market for the altered coinage even if their value doesn’t necessarily warrant making them an investment.

  • Bullion Coin Collector - Bullion coin collectors are typically looking to collect coins that have investment value, meaning that the coins are struck almost purely from precious metals like gold or silver. Bullion coins often feature beautiful designs and have proven to be popular investment pieces. Bullion coins are often available in uncirculated form, which provides a quality, unblemished product.

  • Topical Collector - If you’re a topical coin collector, you likely focus on a coin’s design when deciding whether or not to collect. This means you tend to gravitate toward coin series featuring designs that grab your interest. These themes and designs could include coins that feature ships, eagles, sports figures, etc. The possibilities are endless.

  • Modern Collector - The definition of “modern” coins is a subjective one at best, and it’s mostly left up to the collector to decide if his or her collection centers on modern coinage; however, many consider modern coinage to include any coins minted after the year 1900. Popular coins found in modern collections include Walking Liberty half dollars, Buffalo nickels, Franklin half dollars, etc.

  • Rare Coin Collector - The definition is simple: rare coin collectors set their sights on the rarest coins out there, and they are often prepared to spend significant money and time to acquire those coins – whether at auction or from a dealer. Rare coin collectors may or may not focus their collections around a certain time period or series, and the degree of rarity that a collector pursues can also vary. For example, some coins are considered to be rare, but can still be found in many collections. Those coins are known as semi-key coins.