Investing in Coins

By Eric Hammer

For most people, investing in coins is just a hobby, not a profession. However, that doesn’t mean that your hobby can’t become a profession. As with anything else, those who collect coins do need someone to purchase their collections from and you could easily become that someone. The key is to gain tremendous knowledge in the industry and thus become the go to guy for people who are looking for specific coins that they happen to need to complete their collection.

You will also need to start learning where to purchase wholesale coins. The key here is to find out about the places that sell them to the dealers, where you get the raw, untouched piles of coins that have been dug out of the ground (if you are dealing in ancient coins – more on that in a moment). You then sort them and grade them in order to sell them to the collecting population.

Of course, the above applies to ancient coins, mostly from places like Rome, Greece and the Byzantine Empire. There are however also people who make a living investing in coins from more recent periods of history, including early American coins and medieval and Renaissance era European coins.

In all cases, you’ll want to work with professional coin appraisers to get the coins graded and authenticated.

How Much Can You Make?

The majority of people who work in the world of coin collecting do so not because they view it purely as a job but because they happen to be fascinated by coins. Therefore, while there are some dealers who end up earning high six figure salaries, most people who deal in ancient coins earn much more modest salaries, in the range of $20K-50K per year with many people working in the field part time.

Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities | Tips

Dealing in ancient and collectible coins often leads people naturally into other areas of collecting. Stamps and paper money are popular things to consider working with as these are also commonly traded and tend to fit naturally when you start a store which deals in coins. Others branch out even further, dealing in other antiques and antiquities, including such things as ancient glass and pottery and more recent medieval trinkets and the like.

Another good place to look for additional income when working in coins is jewelry; in spite of the fact that a coin may be two thousand years old and date from the time of Jesus, it may not be a particularly valuable coin, since it is common and made of bronze rather than silver or gold. However, that same coin can fetch many times its worth when made into a fashionable piece of jewelry that a woman might wear as a pendant or that a man might wear as a pair of unique cuff links. Medallions and commemorative coins are also popular options for investors.

Take the time to read industry magazines on coin collecting and be sure to purchase books with pictures that will help you in identifying coins. As someone who is involved in investing in coins for a living, you will often need to be able to identify a coin exactly and you will need to be able to help people to grade them.

Another idea to consider, though few coin dealers do this since they need to become truly well known as experts is to specialize in a specific era of coins. For example, there are some deals who make money investing in coins from the time of the American Revolutionary War and only from that time period, ignoring everything else. The trouble is that you have to be truly expert in the field in order to make a living specializing only in one particular area of coin collecting, though if you do become known as such an expert, you can often earn much more than someone who is a generalist in the field.

Qualifications / Requirements

While no formal training is required to deal in coins, it helps to have a background in numismatics and ideally to have a degree in the subject or at least in a related subject such as art history. You can also take some formal courses in appraisal which will help you to identify and grade coins. In addition, you may take courses to become certified as an appraiser by the American Numismatics Society so that you can earn money not just from investing but also from appraising.

First Steps

Start by visiting coin dealers and asking questions. Most coin dealers are also collectors and experts in their fields – they will generally enjoy discussing their hobby with people who are interested in it and will be happy to help you get off the ground in your own business.

Resources - Overview of investing in coins. - A collection of articles on the subject. - Coin collector magazine.

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