The hobby of collecting coins, or 'numismatics', is an ever popular pastime. Demonstrating obvious links to history, politics, royalty, countries and cultures, antique coins also provide a tangible connection to ordinary people, in a way other antiques cannot. Imagine the journey an Edward I silver farthing has undertaken, the hands it has passed through, how it was earned, what it has been used to purchase. This nostalgia combined with the thrill of the hunt and the joy of finding a rare something makes coin collecting a worldwide passion.
At Top Banana Antiques we stock a huge variety of antique coins and commemorative medallions, some dating back to Ancient Roman times. We're often asked, if you're only just starting out as a coin collector, how do you begin? Read below for our top tips on where to start in the world of numismatics.
Start investigating the world of coins and you will soon find a coin that sparks your interest. What is it about the coin that inspires you? The age, the design, of the function of the coin? Once you have decided on your passion you can begin collecting coins based on that particular theme. It is important to specialise, as trying to collect coins on many disparate themes or from many different eras can prove overwhelming. If you specialise, you are far more likely to be able to complete a collection over time and then perhaps move on to a different subject or period.
Due to the revived interest in the Royal Family, following the arrival of the new Royal baby and the impending wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markle, collecting British coins with a royal connection is extremely popular, and not just in the UK. Some collectors choose royal coins from a particular era or reign, while others specialise in particular sources - Royal coins from the Commonwealth, for example. Important royal events were and are often marked with the minting of a new commemorative coin, which can be a fantastic source of inspiration and talking point for future generations..
Although this can be budget dependant, collecting coins according to the metal in which they are minted brings an additional benefit - as economic times fluctuate so do the value of precious metals, in the past ten years the price of gold has risen 119.43% (according to Bullion by Post - https://www.bullionbypost.co.uk/gold-price/10-year-gold-price-chart/). Despite the rising value of gold, precious metal coin collecting is increasingly popular.
Currency is forever changing, and as a form of currency becomes discontinued, the demand from collectors increases. Rarity is a huge factor in the collecting of antique coins, so a form of currency that was in use for a small amount of time becomes popular.
When you collect coins from a particular period, it comes to life in a way that no history book can ever quite capture. Studying the symbols, inscriptions and abbreviations displayed reveals much about the times in which they were made and circulated: think of the changing image of Britannia over the centuries, for example, or the way that Roman emperors were depicted across 500 years of coinage.
Old coins were often designed by great masters of the time, engravers, sculptors or artists, and hold a greater value due to this aesthetic. Also, consider the methods in which they were minted. Hammered coinage - produced by placing a blank piece of metal of the correct weight between two dies, and then striking the upper die with a hammer to produce the required image on both sides - is the most common form of coins produced since the invention of coins in the first millennium BC until the 15th–17th centuries. After this period coins were cast and later milled.
A common way of collecting coins is to choose a particular type of coin - from a penny to a gold sovereign - and building a complete collection of year dates.For more of a challenge, choose a rare coin or hunt out rare ‘error’ coins that made it to circulation before being quickly withdrawn.
Finally, collectors often choose to collect coinage according to their country or state of issue. Obviously in the UK collecting British coins is extremely popular, but there is also a huge market for coins from the USA, Canada, or China.
Begin by perusing Top Banana's range of antique coins, simply click this link to view our coin page on our website and online store. There, you will get an idea of the value of certain coins, and see what sparks your interest. There are also many excellent coin websites out there to gain more knowledge, and also, many bloggers out there who write about their passion, see a list here.