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Best Coins to Collect

Best Coins to Collect

The world of numismatics, or coin collecting, is an enthralling journey into the realm of precious metals to store, remarkable artwork, storied history, and diverse cultures. Just like luxury watches, it is a hobby that unites people across the globe, transcending boundaries of age, profession, and background, because the allure of coins is universal. Coins, with their intricate designs and inscriptions, encapsulate countless stories from different eras, acting as tangible remnants of our shared human past. What are the best coins to collect? The presidential coin collections? Let’s figure that out!

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Whether you are a novice, dabbling in the world of coin collecting, or a seasoned numismatist with a vast collection, there’s always something new to discover in this fascinating hobby. The thrill of the chase for that elusive piece to complete a collection, the joy of acquiring a rare or historically significant coin, and the satisfaction of seeing a collection grow over time are all part of what makes coin collecting so addictive. If you’re interested in exotic coins, check out our Mexican silver coins article, our Canadian leaf silver coin guide or our 50 Pesos gold coin blog post. If you’re into American coins, don’t miss our American eagle gold coin article! If you’re still thirsty, we also have a great read on Perth Mint Gold Bars and an explanation of gold karats.

But what are the best coins to collect? This seemingly simple question has myriad answers, depending on one’s interests, budget, collecting goals, and personal tastes. From ancient coins that offer a direct connection to civilizations long gone, to modern bullion coins revered for their precious metal content, from rare error coins that slipped through the minting process, to popular series like the Morgan Silver Dollars or Lincoln Cents, there’s an astonishing variety to choose from. Just like when you would appraise a stamp collection, we will list some some valuable coins to collect!

Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars

The Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars are among the most beloved and iconic coins in the history of United States coinage. Their grand size, silver content, and historically significant designs make them popular choices among coin collectors and investors.

Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars

Morgan Silver Dollars:

The Morgan Silver Dollar was minted from 1878 to 1904, and again in 1921. The coin was designed by George T. Morgan, hence its name. It is renowned for its beautiful design, which features Lady Liberty on the obverse and an American eagle on the reverse.

Morgan’s design was a departure from the previous representations of Liberty, as he used a model named Anna Willess Williams who had what he considered an American look, instead of a Greek-style profile that had previously been used. The Morgan Dollar is 90% silver and 10% copper, with a diameter of 38.1mm, making it one of the larger coins in American history.

Morgan Silver Dollars were struck at five different mints: Philadelphia (no mintmark), San Francisco (S), New Orleans (O), Carson City (CC), and Denver (D). Especially sought after are the “CC” Morgan dollars, minted in Carson City, Nevada, known for their lower mintages and regional historical interest.

Peace Silver Dollars

The Peace Silver Dollar, minted from 1921 to 1928 and again from 1934 to 1935, succeeded the Morgan Silver Dollar. The coin commemorates the peace following World War I, hence its name. The Peace Dollar features Lady Liberty on the obverse, modeled after the designer, Anthony De Francisci’s wife, with an image of a perched bald eagle on the reverse.

The Peace Dollar, like the Morgan Dollar, is also 90% silver and 10% copper, but it’s known for its more modern design that incorporates art-deco elements. The word “PEACE” is inscribed on the rock upon which the eagle is perched on the reverse side, symbolizing the peace after the “war to end all wars.”

While the Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars are not particularly rare, their historical significance, silver content, and striking designs continue to captivate collectors and investors, making them a staple in many coin collections. As always, collectors should consider the condition, rarity, and historical significance when acquiring these coins. Don’t forget to check how to clean silver coins.

Walking Liberty Half Dollars

The Walking Liberty Half Dollar is a coin that holds a special place in the heart of many collectors. Struck by the United States Mint from 1916 to 1947, it is widely considered one of the most beautiful coins the United States has ever produced.

Walking Liberty Half Dollars

Designed by Adolph A. Weinman, the obverse of the coin features Lady Liberty striding confidently towards the rising sun, draped in the American flag. Her right arm extends towards the light, symbolizing the country’s constant movement towards a brighter future. In her left arm, she carries branches of laurel and oak, symbolizing civil and military glory. The phrase “In God We Trust” is prominently featured on the upper right field of the coin.

The reverse of the coin features a stunningly detailed American bald eagle perched on a cliff, about to take flight. The denomination and mint mark appear on the reverse, along with the phrase “E Pluribus Unum” – a Latin phrase meaning “Out of Many, One,” representing the unity of the states.

The Walking Liberty Half Dollar is 90% silver and 10% copper. Its impressive size (30.6 mm diameter) and significant silver content have made it popular among both collectors and precious metal investors.

Coins from certain years and mint marks are more valuable due to their lower mintage. For instance, the 1921 and 1921-D Walking Liberty Half Dollars are particularly sought after. Like most coins, the value of a Walking Liberty Half Dollar increases with its condition, with uncirculated and ‘mint state’ coins fetching higher prices.

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In 1986, the design of the Walking Liberty was so admired that it was chosen for the obverse of the American Silver Eagle Bullion coin, where it is still used today. The beauty and significance of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar make it an excellent addition to any coin collection.

Indian Head and Lincoln Cents

The Indian Head and Lincoln Cents are two of the most iconic and widely collected coins in American numismatics. They offer an affordable entry point into the hobby for beginners, while also presenting opportunities for more experienced collectors to seek out rare and valuable varieties.

Indian Head Cent:

The Indian Head Cent, often referred to as the Indian Head Penny, was minted from 1859 to 1909. Contrary to its name, the coin’s obverse does not depict a Native American, but instead features Lady Liberty wearing a Native American headdress. This design was the creation of James Barton Longacre, the Chief Engraver at the Philadelphia Mint.

The reverse side of the coin, up to 1864, depicts a laurel wreath encircling the words “One Cent.” From 1864 onwards, the design was changed to a larger, more detailed oak wreath with a shield at the top.

Indian Head Cents are primarily made of copper-nickel alloy (88% copper and 12% nickel) up to 1864, after which the composition was changed to 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc. Some rare varieties, like the 1877 Indian Head Cent and the 1909-S, are particularly sought after by collectors.

Lincoln Cent:

The Lincoln Cent was introduced in 1909 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. It was the first U.S. coin to feature a historical figure, and the design has remained mostly unchanged since its introduction, making it the longest-running design in United States coinage history.

The obverse of the coin was designed by Victor David Brenner and features a profile of Abraham Lincoln. The reverse originally featured two wheat stalks surrounding the words “One Cent,” earning the coin its nickname “Wheat Penny.” This design remained until 1958, after which it was replaced with the Lincoln Memorial design. In 2010, the Union Shield design was introduced and is currently used.

Lincoln Cents minted from 1909 to 1982 (with a few exceptions in 1943 and 1944-46) are 95% copper. Because of their wide circulation and the various designs, Lincoln Cents are incredibly popular among collectors. Certain editions, like the 1909-S VDB and 1914-D, are rare and highly valued.

Both the Indian Head and Lincoln Cents provide rich opportunities for collecting due to the numerous varieties, significant history, and accessibility in terms of cost.

British Sovereigns

The British Sovereign is a gold coin of the United Kingdom that holds an important place in the world of numismatics. Renowned for its rich history, beautiful design, and high gold purity, the Sovereign is both a collector’s item and an investment piece.

The modern Sovereign was first minted in 1817 following the Great Recoinage of the United Kingdom. It contains 0.2354 ounces (7.322 grams) of gold, with a purity of 22 carats (or 91.67% gold). The coin’s value was initially set at one pound sterling, and it served as a circulating coin until the outbreak of World War I, after which its usage in everyday transactions dwindled.

One of the most striking features of the British Sovereign is its design. The obverse features the reigning monarch of the time. Over the years, the coin has carried the portraits of King George III, Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King George V, King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth II. Each change in monarch brings a new design, adding to the variety and historical interest of the coin.

The reverse side of the Sovereign is perhaps even more famous. It showcases Benedetto Pistrucci’s depiction of Saint George slaying a dragon, an iconic design that is recognized worldwide. The elegance and intricacy of this design have made it one of the most enduring images in numismatics.

While the British Sovereign is not rare, its age, historical significance, gold content, and aesthetic appeal make it highly desirable among collectors and investors alike. Certain dates and mint marks can be quite rare, adding to their value. For instance, Sovereigns minted in India, Australia, Canada, and South Africa are sought after for their lower mintage numbers.

The British Sovereign holds a unique place in numismatics as a bridge between the worlds of coin collecting and gold investing. Whether for the love of history, the artistry of the design, or the value of the gold, the British Sovereign is a coin that many collectors aspire to include in their collections.

Chinese Pandas

The Chinese Panda coins, issued by the People’s Republic of China, are a unique and desirable series for collectors and precious metal investors worldwide. These coins, featuring the beloved and internationally recognized Giant Panda, provide a blend of numismatic interest and investment appeal due to their precious metal content and changing designs.

Chinese Panda coins were first introduced in gold in 1982 and in silver in 1983. The gold versions come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 1/20 oz to 1 oz, while the silver version is commonly found in a 1 oz size. The gold coins are 99.9% pure gold, and the silver coins are 99.9% pure silver.

What makes Chinese Panda coins particularly attractive to collectors is the change in design each year. The obverse side of the coin always features the Temple of Heaven, a famous Taoist temple in Beijing, along with the year of minting. The reverse side features a depiction of one or more pandas. The design changes annually (with the exception of 2001 and 2002 which shared the same design), making each year’s coin a unique piece of art. The detailed and realistic renderings of the pandas in their natural habitat add to the coins’ appeal.

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From 1982 until 2015, these coins were marked with their weight and metal content in ounces. However, starting in 2016, China transitioned to the metric system, marking these coins in grams instead. This change caused a bit of a stir in the numismatic community and added another unique aspect to collecting Panda coins.

The rarity of certain years and mint marks can significantly impact the value of Chinese Panda coins, as can the condition of the coin. As with all precious metal coins, while the metal content provides a base value, the collector demand for particular pieces can greatly exceed the intrinsic metal value.

Chinese Panda coins offer collectors an engaging collecting experience with their annual design changes and various denominations. The combination of numismatic and investment value makes these coins a popular choice for both coin collectors and precious metal investors.

Roman Coins

Collecting Roman coins allows you to literally hold a piece of history in your hands. These ancient artifacts provide a tangible connection to the stories, cultures, and figures of the Roman Empire that dominated the Mediterranean world for centuries.

Roman coins come in a range of types, sizes, and compositions, including gold (aureus), silver (denarius), and various bronze alloys (sestertius, dupondius, as). The minting of Roman coins began around the late 4th century BC and continued in various forms until the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD.

The designs on Roman coins often depict the reigning emperor or members of the imperial family, along with a variety of reverse designs that include representations of the gods, personifications of virtues, depictions of military victories, and various propaganda messages. As such, these coins are not just currency but also a medium for promoting the emperor’s image and messages.

There are a few key factors to consider when collecting Roman coins:

  1. Authenticity: Given their age and value, Roman coins are frequent targets for forgery. It’s crucial to purchase from reputable dealers and to learn how to authenticate coins.
  2. Condition and Detail: The condition of the coin significantly impacts its value. Coins with clear, detailed inscriptions and images, and those without significant wear, corrosion, or damage, are the most sought after.
  3. Rarity: Coins from certain emperors, periods, or mints can be particularly rare and valuable. For instance, coins from the early Roman Republic or from short-reigned emperors can command higher prices.
  4. Provenance: The history of the coin—where it’s been and who’s owned it—can add to its value. Coins with well-documented provenance are often more desirable.
  5. Historical Significance: Coins connected to significant historical events or figures can be particularly interesting and valuable to collectors.

Collecting Roman coins can be a deeply rewarding hobby, providing a direct link to the past. Not only are these coins valuable historical artifacts, but they also offer insights into the art, culture, politics, and economy of one of the world’s most influential civilizations.

Greek Coins

Ancient Greek coins are among the most treasured artifacts in numismatics, prized for their historical significance, exquisite craftsmanship, and diverse variety. They offer collectors a tangible link to the birthplace of Western civilization and some of its most influential figures and stories.

Greek coinage began around 600 BC and continued until the Romans fully absorbed Greece into their empire in the first century BC. During that time, many city-states, islands, and kingdoms minted their own coinage. These various entities issued coins in gold, silver, and bronze, featuring a diverse range of designs.

The designs on Greek coins are incredibly varied and include depictions of gods and goddesses, famous heroes, mythological creatures, local symbols and emblems, and important civic buildings or monuments. Some coins might feature the head of Athena, goddess of wisdom, or the lightning bolt-wielding Zeus, king of the gods, while others might showcase the legendary hero Heracles or the mythological creature Pegasus.

Key factors to consider when collecting Greek coins include:

  1. Authenticity: Given their value and age, Greek coins are often the target of forgers. It’s crucial to buy from reputable sources and become knowledgeable in authenticating coins.
  2. Condition and Detail: The state of preservation significantly impacts the value of a coin. Coins with clear, detailed designs and legible inscriptions, free from significant wear or damage, are more desirable.
  3. Rarity: Coins from certain city-states, periods, or with specific designs can be particularly rare and valuable.
  4. Provenance: The documented history of a coin can enhance its appeal. Coins with a known provenance, tracing its ownership history, can be more desirable.
  5. Historical Significance: Coins connected to significant historical events, places, or figures can hold particular interest and value.

Ancient Greek coins are as varied and rich as the civilization that produced them. The artistry and craftsmanship of these coins, coupled with their historical significance, make them a fascinating area for collectors. Whether your interest is in the mythology, the history, the art, or the rarity, ancient Greek coins provide an enduring connection to a time and place that shaped the world we know today.

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