Coins & Money

How to Start a Coin Collection with $500 or Less

As the world of collectibles has become an alternative asset class that now competes for the same investing dollars as stocks, bonds and real estate, numismatics is still one of the go-to sectors within collectibles. Old and rare coins and currency can cost more than most collectors are able to or are willing to spend. The good news is having a coin collection does not have to break the bank.

Collectors Dashboard can demonstrate that new collectors and families who are interested in the numismatics sector can start a nice collection for close to $500. The cost may even be less or less.

Coin collecting can be multi-generational within families and the world of digitalization can be a benefit and a risk all at the same time. While old news of a $8.2 million coin sale may have turned the world upside down, new coin collectors can still get into numismatics without having to pay an arm and a leg.

While $500 is still not chump change, the good news is that this $500 doesn’t all have to be spent at once or in a single weekend to begin a collection. It can also be very useful in teaching kids about money. Numismatics can create lasting memories while also being considered a sound investment to many people.

One thing to consider up front about all aspects of investing and purchasing collectibles is that there is no such thing as guaranteed profits. It’s one thing to read about people who have made money hand over fist in collectibles. It is entirely different when it comes to buying by the masses. Some collectibles can lose value, and some can lose their value very rapidly.

Collectors Dashboard has put together a list of coins that new collectors and new investors might want to consider as the first step of a portfolio or collection building effort. Again, the goal is to create a collection for under $500 that will be an easy starting point for any collector or investor. These coins are all likely to be considered common and easy to find, but these coins are generally considered to be coins that will hold their value over time and that also come with eye appeal simultaneously.

Morgan Silver dollars have just under an ounce of silver, so the price can fluctuate with the price of silver. Because of high mintages the coin and a vast availability in all grades, these Morgan Silver Dollar coins are generally very affordable. Examples dating back to 1878, the first year of mintage, can be purchased for well under $100.00. In fact, most examples of these coins that have all of the defining features can be found for easily under $50 per coin. The PCGS grading service listed a MS-64 uncirculated 1880 S minted example for $140.00 and that can also still fit within a start of a collection for under $500.

Starting coin books can also be an affordable activity to kick off a coin collection. Omitting key dates, Littleton Coin offers a 1909-1955 Lincoln Cent Collection with 2 Folders for $139. There are 50 coins offered together in coin books that create a numismatic start for exciting moments scanning pocket change or browsing a jug of change in the garage or on your dresser. Variations of this collection can also be found on eBay in many cases for even less money. While these coin books will never likely become the next big-ticket item in numismatics, these have historically been used as a great tool and starting step to learn about many aspects and lessons within numismatics.

One additional timeless design is the five-cent piece that is easily recognized as the American Buffalo Nickel. These coins can be collected in close to a mint state for under $20.00 for the year 1938. Most of the previously circulated Buffalo Nickels can still cost a buyer $10 or less. A Buffalo Nickel is often considered to be a “coin show crowd-pleaser” and they can be found in piles to search through. They also make coin books for these widely available coins, and many dealers (and eBay) sell these in rolls or in bags for larger bulk purchases.

Another collection-builder in numismatics is the 1943 steel penny. All 3 mint marks (Philadelphia, Sacramento, Denver) of uncirculated coins can be bought for under $30.00, according to PCGS. These coins are unique for the history of pennies, and they have silver eye appeal and can make for an exciting display in anyone’s collection. Copper shortages from World War 2 can be blamed for the government’s temporary solution back when you could still buy things at a store for a penny.

One last purchase that will solidify any start to a collection or portfolio of coins is the so-called “silver rounds.” These are sold at gold and silver exchanges, online, coin shows and many other venues. Silver rounds come with no numismatic value to speak of and are bought and sold very close to the current spot price of 1 ounce of silver.

Silver rounds are very common, and they also teach any coin buyer to always keep their eye on the price of silver (and gold) — something that will become quite important when considering investments now and in the future. Silver buyers have many reasons for buying silver rounds: a hedge against inflation, a hedge against paper money, because the WallStreetBets crowd on Reddit was into it, and some may buy it for industrial use, or even for potential barter. At $26 per ounce on last look, coin collectors and investors can buy multiple ounces of silver and still have plenty of money to buy many other go-to coins on top of the ones already mentioned.

Again, there are no assurances that the price paid today will be higher tomorrow, next year, nor even in a decade. The sector of numismatics sits at an interesting portal in time as the digitalization of all assets bring threats and opportunity alike.