Coin Collecting for Kids Guidebook
Whether it's collecting state quarters, mint sets, ancient coins, or anything in between, coin collecting is a great hobby for kids. Not only is collecting a fun activity, but it is also an investment for the future. Children can learn about responsibility, finance, attention to detail, and history, all from this wonderful hobby. And with so much to learn about coin collecting, this is one lifelong activity that could stick with a young collector throughout the years.
On this page, we will let you know everything you need to know about coin collecting for kids, how to get started and resources for your collecting journey.
Table of Contents
Why Start Collecting Young?
A shared hobby
Parents looking to share interests with their kids need to look no further than the coins already in their pockets. Coin collecting is an accessible and exciting hobby for children and their parents to share, building memories (and collections) that will last a lifetime. The younger a child starts collecting, the more excited they will be to collect alongside their parents and will likely continue to do so long after picture books, and stuffed animals are set aside.
Coin collecting is a hobby that rewards an early commitment. Some coin collectors we know start “helping” their children get started from the day they’re born. We recommend not starting a collection with a child who might be inclined to try to eat it.
Coin collecting isn’t just fun for hobbyists. It’s a great educational tool. Every coin tells its own story and has a history related to its minting and circulation. Since governments make coins, they tend to have as much symbolism as possible packed into each design.
Coin collecting is an interactive way for kids to get hands-on learning in a variety of academic areas, including:
- History - Using ancient coins to tell stories of the past and more recent coins to understand why this particular story is the one selected as a symbol.
- Geography - Learning about a new country through its coinage, finding it on a map, learning the world’s money doesn’t have all the same names.
- Mathematics - Weights and measurements, decimals, multiplication and division, equality (how many children think a dime is worth less than a nickel? Or that three nickels are preferable to one quarter?).
- Finance - Record-keeping, setting a budget and shopping, evaluating opportunities to buy and sell coins, and possibly learning what it means to sell for a profit.
And there are non-academic skills coin collecting enhances as well:
- Attention to detail - What’s the difference between these two pennies?
- Delayed gratification - Having access to money you aren’t allowed to spend.
- Patience - Acquisition, learning about the coins, and proper coin care and storage all require a calm and patient mind.
Shared hobbies are one of the best ways for kids to make new friends. There are plenty of groups for kids to expand their coin collecting even further (more on these groups later). Just like adults, kids can get involved in collectors clubs and events specifically catered toward coin collecting. Some groups like the Boy Scouts have their own badges for collectors as well.
For all of the joy that comes with coin collecting, getting started young may be a wise financial decision. Many coins appreciate in value over time and can be sold for a profit in the future. Unlike other hobbies, which cost parents and children lots of money with zero return on investment, coin collecting can have a respectable financial payoff years down the road.
How to Get Started with a New Collection
Choosing the Right Coins
There are a wide variety of different coin types to choose from:
- Commemorative Coins - Artfully depict important moments or people in history.
- Ancient Coins - These coins have a long and storied history. While they might not be shiny and new, their wear-and-tear makes for great lessons on the past for children.
- Foreign Coins - Domestic coins might help your child learn about local history, but if you want to get them excited about the world at large, introduce them to foreign coins. These coins don’t even have to be especially rare to get them excited. Simply purchase circulating coins from faraway and obscure countries that they’ve never heard of to pique their interest.
- Bullion Coins - These coins are some of the highest quality coins on the market. They are most often used as investments due to their high quality.
- Proof Coins - The finest quality coins produced by the U.S. Mint.
- Circulation Coins - Getting started on a budget is as easy as dumping the change out of your pockets. An attainable starting goal might be collecting each version of a coin minted in a given year (varying designs, different mint marks, etc.).
Discovering New Coins
There is nothing more fun than discovering a new coin to add to your collection. There are plenty of opportunities to find new coins at events, trade with friends, buy directly from national mints, or browse at reputable dealers online.
Surprising your kids with new coins can help keep collecting fresh and exciting.
Caring for Coins
Aside from collecting coins themselves, caring for a coin collection is another aspect of collecting that is something to teach children. After coins are found or bought, they need to be cared for and maintained. Kids learn how to properly handle coins, inspect them, and clean coins without damaging them. Who knows, this type of responsibility could be an excellent precursor to taking care of a new pet.
Coins are best handled with gloves so as not to be damaged by any oils present on bare skin. And when it comes to coin cleaning, it’s best not to use heavy-duty cleaning supplies. Instead, opt for a solution of lemon juice (or vinegar) and water to maintain the shiny luster of coins without damaging them.
Check out the US Mint’s kids page on Caring for Your Coin Collection for more info.
Storing Your Collection
If you don’t store coins properly, they lose their luster and may even get damaged. Therefore, coin storage is an essential aspect of coin collecting to ensure the value and longevity of any collection. Fortunately, coin storage is also relatively easy. Keep in mind these storage tips you can teach your kids:
- Environment - Coins should be stored in a dry, cool place that isn’t exposed to extreme heat or cold.
- Holder/Protector - Don’t just throw your coins in a jar and call it a day. Coins need to be kept in holders, albums, or folders to protect them from damage.
- Labels - This is a fun activity for coin collectors who like keeping detailed records of their collections. Include information about coins themselves, as well as when and how and when you obtained them.
- Security - Keep your coin collection in a home safe or secure storage space. Even if you don’t have a high-value collection, this will teach your kids about securing their valuables at a young age.
One of the most fun things for kids to do is track their coin collection value. This can also prove to be a lesson in both finance and investing. It possibly helps with entrepreneurship, too, teaching kids how coins can appreciate in value and when to sell them at a profit.
When determining the value of a coin, keep in mind its grade (more on coin grading later) and exact minting. While some coins look the same, they could have completely different values just based on when they were minted.
It may not be easy, but completing coin sets will give your child a real sense of accomplishment. A fun and affordable set to start off with is the 2010 United States Mint America the Beautiful Quarters Program which depicts the 50-states of America. Sets like these will give your kids something to work toward and build upon over the years.
Tips and Tools to Get Started
Finding Coins for Sale
First things first. Let’s find some coins for sale. Of course, you can go out with a metal detector and search for coins at the beach, but buying coins is the only way to determine your kids start with a good, solid collection to learn and build from.
When looking to buy coins, make sure to use only reputable dealers or qualified mints to ensure you are getting authentic coins. Look for dealers with positive online reviews and excellent Better Business Bureau ratings. Coins should come with some guarantee or documentation of their authenticity. You can always purchase quality coins from BullionMax or any other reputable dealer. There are also some coins to be purchased directly from the US Mint and other mints around the world.
Coin grading systems are a way for young collectors to understand the quality of a coin before making a purchase. Grading systems often describe the state of the coin and use other descriptive words to convey its quality or lack thereof.
While there are various coin grading systems around, it might be best to stick with the American Numismatic Association scale, which is most often used with U.S. circulated coins. Coins are graded on a scale that ranges in the following:
- Mint State
- About Uncirculated
- Extremely Fine
- Very Fine
- Very Good
- About Good
There are more details within the grading scale that indicate coin luster, strike, and other features. Learn more about the grading scale here.
Parts of a Coin
A coin can be broken down into many parts.
- Obverse: The front or “heads” of the coin
- Reverse: The back or “tails” of the coin
- Design - The image depicted on the coin
- Edge - The outer border of the coin
- Rim - Protects the coin from wear-and-tear; the rim is the raised part of the edge
- Date - The year the coin was minted
- Field - Surface not used for design or inscription
- Legend - Lettering of the coin
- Relief - Raised above the coin’s surface
- Designer’s Initials - Initials of the coin’s designer
Mint Mark - The mint which produced the coin
Beginner collectors don’t need a lot to get started on their collecting journey. Of course, you will need coins to start your collection, but there are also a few other things that are helpful for kids to get started with their coin collection too.
- Coin protectors - Keeps coins safe and protected and are purchased online or at any hobby store
- Coin cases - Cases are a way to display important or loved coins while keeping them out of harm’s way
- Gloves - It’s best to handle coins (especially older coins) with gloves so as not to get oil on them from your bare hands
- Magnifying glass or lens - Get a close-up look at your coins
- Microscope - If you really want to go all out, a microscope will allow you to see the intricate details of your coin collection and better view the smallest features
- Polishing cloths and cleaning supplies
Are There Clubs for Young Collectors?
The largest coin club for kids, Young Numismatists, is for anyone ages 5-17. The club has all sorts of games and activities to get children interested in collecting and even receive free coins just for taking part in the club. Because of its size, Young Numismatists is also an excellent way for kids to make friends with others interested in numismatists as well.
Local Youth Numismatic Clubs
There are many local numismatic clubs for adults located around the world. Luckily for kids, many of these clubs have opportunities for them as well. Check with your local numismatic club to see if they have any events for kids to attend and learn more.
Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA)
The RCNA has a Kids n’ Coins program specifically aimed at providing coin collecting events for young people less than 18-years of age. This provides kids with hands-on experience learning from RCNA members and other experts.
Boy Scouts / Girl Scouts
While these clubs aren’t specific to coin collecting, they do have their own element of collecting within them. Boy and Girl Scouts merit badges specifically for coin collecting. For instance, the Boy Scout Coin Collecting Merit Badge Series teaches the basics of coins, grading, collecting, and storing coins.
Coin Collecting Lingo
- American Numismatic Association (ANA) - An organization that helps individuals learn more about coinage and the art of coin collecting
- Commemorative coin - A select coin made to honor a person, place, or historic event
- Parts of a coin - See previous “Parts of a Coin” section
- Grade - A rating to indicate the wear-and-tear of a coin since it has circulated
- Mint - Any place where coins are produced under the authority of local government
- Numismatics - The study and collection of different forms of money, from coins to paper bills
- Uncirculated Coin - Not circulated with the regular money supply
- Bullion Coin - Not used as regular money, bullion coins are most often made from gold or silver and used as collectibles or investments
Things to Remember
- Don’t overdo it - Start with a few coins and then build from there. Trying to teach your kids all about collecting in one day will likely overwhelm them.
- Ask for input - Maybe your child is interested in coins from foreign countries or ancient coins. Their input should guide where you start.
- Keep a budget, but don’t get taken - Coin collecting can be an expensive hobby, so keeping a budget is key. But don’t try to bargain shop for coins that might be counterfeit or in terrible condition (remember: too good to be true invariably is neither good nor true). Instead, use a reputable dealer like BullionMax to purchase authentic, high-quality coins at reasonable prices.
- Be patient - Your kids might get bored of coins sometimes, so don’t get discouraged if they don’t want to talk about coins for long periods of time right away.
- Have fun! - Coin collecting is meant to be fun, and this goes doubly for kids. Always remember that this is a fun hobby to be shared together.
- BullionMax Coin History - Learn more about the history of important coins over the last 2,700-years.
- BullionMax Knowledge Base - Everything you need to know about coins and collecting.
- Official ANA Grading Standards for United States Coins - If you want to learn more about the ANA grading system and how to use it on your own to grade coins
- A Guide Book of United States Coins - The ultimate guide for all US-minted coins throughout the years.
- The Whitman Coin Guide to Coin Collecting - This handbook is good for beginner collectors.
- Professional Coin Grading Services (PCGS) Set Registry - Track and value your coin collection online
- American Numismatic Society (ANS) - A New York City-based museum and research center for numismatics
- US Mint for Kids - This page has a variety of online games and tools to teach kids about US coins and currency