Littleton Coin Company

How to Start a Coin Collection

Collecting coins can be an exciting and rewarding hobby. Here are three easy steps to get started today…

Coin collecting. Once the exclusive domain of the rich and powerful, today it’s a hobby virtually anyone can enjoy.

And countless people around the world do just that.

But if you’re new to the hobby, figuring out how to start a coin collection can be a bit overwhelming. Especially if you don’t have a mentor you can turn to when you have questions.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. The numismatic neighborhood is filled with collectors who love sharing the hobby and their experience.

As well as experts who enjoy helping others and growing a new generation of numismatists. Like those at Littleton Coin Company, who’ve been helping collectors start and grow their collections since 1945.

Of course, to enjoy any hobby you have to begin. So let’s look at how to start a coin collection in three easy steps that work for pretty much any age and budget.

And even if you’re already a seasoned collector, you may still find them helpful when talking with someone just starting out.

So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Step 1: Make a plan for your collection.

How to Collect Coins booklet - Littleton Coin Blog
Littleton Coin Company has a FREE digital guide for collectors.

I learned this tip from Littleton Coin Company Chairman David Sundman. It’s served me well, and I’m sure it’s helped countless others before me.

When I was young, I collected everything. If I found a coin or note I didn’t have, or that I found remotely interesting, I set it aside. Often in a jar, where I would forget about it until the next time I sorted through my collection.

However, these days I’m far more focused.

I spend my time and money on those coins and notes in which I’m most interested. I concentrate on a few specific types and series.

This has allowed me to become more knowledgeable in those areas. I understand more of the history my coins represent, and thus appreciate them more.

Plus, I’ve been better able to track down those I still need to complete my collection. So I more frequently experience the thrill that comes with completing a series or acquiring a key date or other hard-to-find coins.

As a result, I find I get more enjoyment from my hobby.

How to Find Your Focus

Finding your focus is actually pretty easy, even if you’ve never thought about how to start a coin collection.

All you have to do is take some time and think about what you like. About what most interests you, and what you’d like to see most in your collection.

Are you an Old West enthusiast? If so, you might focus on the coins from that era – like Morgan dollars, Liberty Head nickels and Indian Head cents.

U.S. Type Coin Club - Littleton Coin Blog
Littleton’s U.S. Type Coin Club is a great option for many collectors.

Perhaps you enjoy learning about ancient cultures and empires. Ancient coins – like those from the Roman Empire – might be right up your alley. True, some ancients are notoriously hard to find. But many are surprisingly affordable.

Maybe you’re most excited by modern issues. In that case, you might start with year sets that include coins of each denomination and design issued in a particular year.

On the other hand, if you’re fascinated with the many different U.S. coinage designs, you might work towards a U.S. Type Coin collection. One that includes examples of each of the 65+ different coins issued by the U.S. Mint, from early half cents to the latest silver and gold pieces.

Of course, there’s always collecting coins from an individual series – such as Lincoln cents, Jefferson nickels, U.S. Women quarters, Native American dollars or U.S. Innovation dollars.

Or collecting coins that fit a particular theme, like the Chinese Lunar New Year’s Year of the Dragon.

The possibilities are endless!

Not sure what you like?

Some people instinctively know what they want to collect. While others need to see their options and do some research.

Request a FREE Littleton catalog at

If you’re not yet sure which coins appeal to you, I recommend visiting Littleton Coin Company’s online store.

Littleton has a huge inventory of coins, paper money and collecting supplies, from ancient coins to the latest releases. So it’s easy to see what’s out there and discover where your interests lie.

If you prefer to browse offline, Littleton’s print catalogs are another great resource. They, too, feature a wide variety of items, and every page is filled with fantastic photos and informative descriptions. Best of all, they’re free. Just go to Littleton’s website and click the Free Catalogs link at the bottom of any page.

In any case, explore your options. Take some time and discover what interests you most. Then make that your focus.

Congratulations – you now have a plan for your collection!

Step 2: Educate yourself.

Another good rule is to educate yourself about the coins you’d like to collect, as well as those already in your collection.

Each denomination and series has its own unique history. Discovering it is part of the fun – especially for us history buffs.

Plus, each series has its own key dates and desirable issues. And in some cases, known fakes. Knowing them will help you achieve your collecting goals.

Resources for Collectors

So where do you go to learn about coins?

You can purchase the latest Red Book from Littleton’s online store while supplies last.

One of the best resources is A Guide Book of United States Coins. Also known as The Official Red Book®, this book is the “go-to” guide for new and expert collectors alike.

Each page is filled with color photographs and detailed information on American coins, from colonial coinage to current issues. Including U.S. bullion coins, commemoratives and more. It even contains an introduction to numismatics for those new to the hobby.

Currently in its 77th edition, the Red Book is available in spiral bound, hard cover and large print editions. If you’d like a copy, you can typically find it in Littleton’s online store, along with other books on collecting.

Littleton’s website also contains many resources for collectors in its Learn Center.

There you can learn about the history of coinage, types of U.S. coins, how to care for your coins, answers to top questions and more. You’ll even find coin glossaries, grading guides and collecting checklists.

Plus, Littleton offers free collecting guides. Including How to Collect Coins, which is perfect for anyone wanting to know how to start a coin collection.

Setting a budget can help you acquire high-quality specimens for your collection.

Step 3: Set Your Budget.

This step is the one many find most challenging (or at least, not as much fun). But unless you’re Bill Gates or Elon Musk – Warren Buffet would definitely set himself a budget – it’s a step most of us shouldn’t skip.

Because while collecting is fun, it’s a lot less fun if you can’t pay your bills. So knowing how much (or how little) you can spend is important.

What’s more, setting a budget helps you build your collection more efficiently.

You can use it to know when to buy more common and affordable issues. As well as to save up for harder-to-find key dates and pieces many collectors only dream of acquiring.

Remember: Collecting is Supposed to Be Fun!

Collecting coins is a hobby. It’s supposed to be fun. not stressful, frustrating or overwhelming!

Finding your focus, educating yourself and setting a budget can all help set you up for success. And help you get more enjoyment from your collection.

Littleton’s Learn Center offers a wealth of resources for collectors.

And remember: You don’t have to go it alone.

Consider joining a local coin club or the American Numismatic Association to meet other collectors. The ANA also produces numerous publications, including an online Reading Room.

And be sure to visit Littleton Coin Company’s Learn Center as well. It’s a great resource, whether you’re just beginning or you’ve been collecting for decades.

Finally, if you’re just starting out – or know someone who is – check out that Littleton collecting guide.

Especially if you still have questions on how to start a coin collection.

Until next time…
Happy Collecting!

This article was written by Len B.

A lifelong writer and collector, Len is a USAF veteran, New Hampshire native and member of the American Numismatic Association.


R.S. Yeoman, Jeff Garett (Senior Editor). A Guide Book of U.S. Coins: 77th Edition. Whitman Publishing, LLC. 2024

Littleton Coin Company. “Littleton’s Coin Collecting Learn Center.” Accessed 14 March 2024.

How to Collect Coins. Littleton Coin Company. 2024.

American Numismatic Association. Accessed March, 14. 2024.

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