Beginner’s Mistake: 7 Errors Coin Collectors Should Avoid

Coin collecting is a fun, challenging, and profitable hobby full of information, tips, and tricks. However, whether you are a budding collector or a long-time numismatics enthusiast, several mistakes could degrade the value of your collection.

As expert appraisers and coin fanatics ourselves, Biltmore Loan and Jewelry will share some of the biggest threats to your coins, along with what you can do to protect your collection. 

1. Impulsive Coin Collecting and Buying

It requires a lot of effort to learn the specifics of any hobby, and coin collecting is no exception. For example, if you want to collect Queen Victoria Coins, how can you be sure of the each one’s authenticity? How much should you pay for its rarity? Do the engravings mean anything significant? — These are questions you need to answer before investing. 

When you know very little about coins, it can be easy to make impulsive, regretful buying decisions. Therefore, it is of high importance to avoid making mistake number two:

2. Conducting Minimal Research

It is vital to conduct out-and-out research before investing. As you grow your collection, you must also expand your understanding of numismatics (the study of coins). Only knowing common information about coins, such as average buying prices or popular kinds to buy, will not get you very far. As such, ensure to do some legitimate research using the internet. Go through industry-specific blogs such as those maintained by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), and sovereign or private mints around the world.

3. Following Baseless Tips

Would you immediately invest your life’s savings on stocks and bonds just because your friend said it would make you millions of dollars? We hope not. The same rule goes for buying and collecting coins. Unless whoever gave you advice is an experienced numismatist or an employee of a certification service, avoid following any baseless information that can cause you to lose money than gain. Fact is, there are no accurate predictions on which coins will be in-demand tomorrow, much less in a year or a decade.

4. Ordering Coins from TV Dealers

There is at least one show on the infomercial section “guaranteeing” to give the best deals on the rarest coins in the world. The truth is, just because an advertiser keeps saying “the best deal you will ever find,” does not mean it is true. More often than not, infomercials come with advertising and marketing costs that are topped over the price of a product.

Further, even if TV dealers claim that they are selling NGC or PCGS certified coins, there is no assurance that they are authentically graded. Also, you can never be sure if the coins are in the same condition as when they left the NGC or PCGS.

Lastly, keep in mind that though the coins may, in fact, have collectible value, they may not be as rare as TV dealers want you to believe. 

5. Making Dead-End Investments

Un-circulated 40% Silver Eisenhower Silver Dollars

Because of the growing interest in precious metals, a typical detail you will find in many collectible coins is the bullet point saying “low mintage” or “extremely low mintage.” According to the Spruce Crafts, “Mintage is the total quantity of a particular coin that the mint produced.” However, a specific coin with low mintage does not indicate rarity.

As an example, let’s say you come across an 18-karat gold coin with a picture of a glorious dove on it. The question you need to answer before buying is not “how many coins were made,” but rather, “will anyone else want this?” At some point, you are likely to sell your collection or pass it on to a family member. If neither of those parties is interested in that particular “low mintage” coin, or there is no demand when selling it, you are only wasting the investment you made in that coin.

6. Buying “Certified” Coins from Self-Slabbers

Coins found in slabs do not automatically symbolize authenticity, rarity, or pristine condition. Therefore, as tempting as it may be to buy coins off of eBay or advertising platforms, avoid wasting your money on coins that are not from professional certification services. The NGC and PCGS are the two preeminent authentication and certification services, followed by the second-tier companies of America’s Oldest Coin Authentication and Grading Service (ANACS) and Independent Coin Graders (ICG).

7. Negligence and Naivety 

There are many stories of people cleaning an old coin and ruining it in the process. Using harsh or abrasive solutions in an attempt to bring back a coin’s original luster can cause the exact opposite effect. Silver coins, in particular, can lose its sheen every time you polish them. Sadly, in the eyes of the NGC, PCGS, and others relevant organizations, this error dramatically diminishes the value of a collectible coin. For instance, while a 19th-century coin may look damaged or old, that patina is still part of its allure.

Akin to the point above, you should never use your hands when handling coins. Human skin contains natural oils that, when comes in contact with the precious metals of a coin, can cause slight damage at first, and then inflict more damage over time. Wearing gloves is a great way to avoid transferring the skin’s oils to a coin’s surface.

Read this article to understand the best possible ways to care for your coin collection.

Take Home Message

Those mentioned are only seven of the many mistakes coin collectors, regardless of whether new or seasoned, can be guilty of. Although there is no perfect guideline to follow when collecting coins, we hope that knowing these seven common mistakes will guide your future investment choices. As you continue to expand your collection, common sense will also prevent you from making crucial errors. And of course, if any doubt arises, always conduct more research and seek the opinion of professional numismatists.

Are You Interested in Selling Your Coin Collection?

Selling too quickly can often lead you straight to the local pawn shop. However, you can get your coin collection’s worth by selling to the right establishment. Biltmore Loan and Jewelry is Arizona’s number one choice for collateral loans on valuable assets and purchases of high-end collectibles, including precious metals and coins. If you are looking to cash in your collection, complete our online form for a free market appraisal. You may also visit or contact our Scottsdale (480-991-5626) and Chandler (480-705-5626) locations. Rest assured that we offer the highest rates in the market.