Ask any coin collector, new or experienced, and you’ll quickly discover the coin magnifier is high on the list of essential tools. Whether you are sorting through coins for a key date or taking a detailed look at a high-end Morgan silver dollar, you’ll need a trusted magnifier. There are a variety of types on the market today, all with different bells and whistles. Here are our favorites according to hobby level:
- Best for kids and beginners – when you are just starting out, you’ll need your magnifier handy to determine dates so you can see what you have and what you need. We recommend the affordable, hand-held 3x with 6x Bi-Focal (.50-$1) made by JP Manufacturing. It has both a large 3x lens and a small 6x lens to zoom in on details of your coins. Its low cost makes it the perfect addition to a starter kit.
- Best for coin shows & travel – If you are headed to a coin show or want to have a magnifier around when you travel, we recommend a loupe style like the Lidner 10X folding magnifier ($10-$15) Pair it with a cord and wear it around your neck and you’ll be able to zoom in on coins at a moment’s notice. Plus, you’ll look like a pro when you are out on the road.
- Best for techies – We’ve tested the new Lighthouse Phonescope Magnifier ($25-$30) here and the reviews are great. It fits on your smartphone and uses the phone’s photo viewer to zoom in – up to 6x. Pluses include being able to use it with your phone’s camera app to get up-close images of your coins to share, as well as the included stand for stability. This is a great tool for digitally documenting your collection and also very useful for reading restaurant menus!
- Best for experienced collectors – Touted as the “best coin magnifier in the world” the German Eschenbach Optik 5x loupe magnifier ($75-$80) is the one you’ll see in dealers’ pockets. It has a large distortion free lens to help you spot elusive varieties and errors. It’s a bit pricier than others, but its quality cannot be disputed.
- Best for the stay-at-home collector – When you’re at home spending time with your Mercury dimes, Peace dollars and Liberty walkers, you’ll appreciate the easy to use tabletop magnifier. The 2.5 with 5x BiF LED Table Magnifier ($45-$50) easily clips on to a table edge or will stand on the tabletop. The flexible neck lets you bend it to meet your ideal angle. Lightweight and portable, you can easily take it from room to room.
- Best for bank notes – With its large square rectangular shape the Eschenbach LED Slide out magnifier ($80-$85) is perfect for bank notes. It also lights up and features a 2×2″ distortion free lens. And because it easily slides into its silver-toned case, it also fits nicely in a shirt or pant pocket.