An Introduction to Coin Collecting

A Personal View

Coin collecting is an interesting and absorbing hobby.

"Oh yes", some of you may say. "I sold my anorak years ago."

It ain't necessarily so! There are many ways to make the collecting of small round pieces of metal into a pursuit that is fun and informative, that can lead to new friendships and acquaintances, and which can help pay for itself in the long term (but please note - coin collecting should not be regarded as an alternative investment). For one thing, you can join a club, of which this is an example - you will be welcome, I assure you. There are coin auctions and fairs of all sizes, all over the country. There are numerous numismatic books, some learned, some more populist.

Coin collecting does not have to be an expensive hobby either, as values and prices are not dictated by the age or interest of a coin, but by simple supply and demand. A rare coin from the 19th century, for example, will almost always be far more expensive than a rare one from Roman times, because more people want it - and I don't mean a Roman coin like you see fresh from the ground on archaeology programmes, but a decent collectable example. The trick is to find an area where there are not too many collectors all clamouring for the same pieces!

Verica Vine Leaf AV Stater

Most of all, though, coin collecting can - and in my opinion should - lead to an interest in the history of the period you collect. Personally, my main interest is Celtic - the coinage of the British Iron Age, from about 125 BC, when gold staters were first imported from Gaul, to AD 43, the date of the Roman invasion. I have found that this has led to a fascination with European ancient history, particulary social history (how people led their everyday lives), and in the art of ancient cultures - especially Celtic, of course. Once this expansion of interest has taken place, a whole new (or old!) world opens up, and you realise that these people were real, and they lived ordinary lives just like we do. When I visited the Iron Age hillfort at Danebury last year, for example, I already knew quite a bit about the people who would have lived there in that period, and this enabled me to almost feel their presence as I walked around its perimeter earthworks. It was as though they were actually there, somewhere in the trees, alive and vibrant (although, knowing the Celts, it's a good job they were not!)

How to Collect

There is no one way to collect, of course.

The best advice I can give is this:

Whatever you collect, you will have to store your coins safely. You have several choices:

Product Comments


Plastic envelopes Can cause coins to "sweat" and discolour over a period of time. Some older ones can even cause a chemical reaction and totally ruin coins, but newer products are inert and will not do this.


Albums As above.


Paper envelopes Excellent for storage, but are inelegant and make it difficult to view your coins. They are cheap, though.


Lindner trays (and other similar products) Excellent, if a bit plasticky! These are stackable, and are used by many dealers.


Abafil cases & trays Excellent. These also have the advantage of being good for transporting coins as the cases are lockable and securely hold the trays, while also being good static cabinets. Used by many dealers.


Mahogany cabinets Excellent. The traditional method, used by some dealers and many museums.


I cannot over-emphasise this. There's no point in building up a worthwhile collection if you don't store it properly. Even the more expensive systems described above are surprisingly modest in price, and the Lindner and Abafil systems can be built up as required, avoiding the need for a large initial outlay.

Happy Collecting!