Coin Collecting For Kids: A Beginner’s Guide

Coin Collecting For Kids: A Beginner’s Guide

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez
Published: May 12, 2021
Updated: May 25, 2021
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Want to see your child enjoy a pastime that helps get them off their handheld devices and immerses them in a world of art, history, and social studies? Introduce them to coin collecting!

This comprehensive guide will walk you through how to help your child pursue an interest in collecting coins. It is one of the most enriching activities that young minds can engage in. All the while, they get to learn about the world around them.

One of the world’s oldest hobbies, coin collecting has been popular with children for generations. In fact, many of the most prominent coin collectors who are now in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, launched their forays in the hobby before the age of 10.

One of the greatest things about coin collecting is that it's easy to get started. You and your child can begin the hobby with as little as the coins found in a coin jar, piggy bank, couch cushions, or pocket change.

coin collection

A coin collection and supplies

Deciding What to Collect

Two of the most popular coins for kids to start collecting these days are Lincoln cents and Washington quarters.

Lincoln pennies are readily accessible and inexpensive, making it easy to complete a set of coins right from circulation. Lincoln Memorial pennies were struck from 1959 through 2008. With a little bit of searching, it's reasonable to expect that you can complete a collection at the cost of face value. You can find them in pocket change or by looking through rolls of pennies from the bank.

Meanwhile, Washington quarters made since 1999 each feature a special design. They pay homage to a particular state or national landmark. These America the Beautiful Quarters® and 50 States Quarters are all available in pocket change at 25 cents a pop. They can provide you and your child with the opportunity to discover the people, places, and events that helped build the United States.

The route of collecting Lincoln pennies and Washington quarters may be among the easiest and least expensive. The coins are readily obtainable from everyday circulation. But there are endless other avenues out there!

Some fun alternatives include:

  • United States coinage now considered obsolete
  • a colorful array of world coinage from every nation and era, spanning back to ancient dynasties and legendary kingdoms
  • silver and gold bullion coinage containing high amounts of pure precious metal

Any of the coins you can't find in circulation you can buy for fair market value at a reputable coin dealer.

How Does Your Child Collect Coins? What Should You Do to Help Them?

Helping your child get involved in coin collecting can really be quite simple. If you yourself are an advanced coin collector, you may already have spare coin folders on hand. You also most likely have a thorough working knowledge of where and how to obtain the coins your child would like to collect.

However, if the hobby of coin collecting is totally new to you, it can seem a little unclear where to begin. Never fear! The pathway into numismatics is as close as your nearest coin dealer, hobby shop, or bookstore.

Consider buying the following affordable coin collecting supplies for your child:

A Guide Book of United States Coins (often called "The Red Book" by coin collectors) – This annual publication is produced by Whitman Publishing. It can be found at virtually any coin store or bookstore selling new titles. It contains:

  • retail prices
  • true-to-size color photos
  • a rundown on basic hobby terminology

The Official Red Book also has tons of information geared for both beginners and advanced collectors. It covers every United States coin dating back to the nation's pre-federal colonial days of 1616.

Coin folders or coin boards – These cardboard holders can be found at local coin stores, hobby shops, and most bookstores. They provide for the easy organization and display of coins.

Most coin folders and coin boards focus on one type of coin (e.g. Lincoln cents, Jefferson nickels, Roosevelt dimes, Washington quarters, etc.). They're also very inexpensive—they generally cost around $5 to $10 each.

Coin folders and coin boards are perfect for helping a child build and arrange a coin collection. They allow her to see what coins she has and which ones she'll need to finish a particular set of coins.

A magnifying glass – It's important to see all the little details on coins. These details are not only important for determining what type of coin is in-hand. They can also be fun to look for!

Coin Collecting Gaffer

Coin collection and magnifying glass, sometimes known as a loupe

For example, did you know there's a little statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting in the Lincoln Memorial on the back of Lincoln pennies made from 1959 through 2008? Are you aware that an individual or pair of letters (called mint marks) standing off by itself on a coin can tell you which mint struck it? Even little mistakes on a coin, such as the doubling of a design—an anomaly often too minute to be immediately seen with the naked eye—may mean it's a rare and valuable error.

There are many other coin supplies you can buy that will help enhance your child's skill and involvement in the hobby. However, the best advice for parents whose children are just getting started with the hobby may be to keep it simple at first. Don't overwhelm your child with too much coin "stuff" at once.

Before you spend lots of money on buying advanced reference books and supplies, see how well your child engages with the coins she has and the basic supplies you provide her. What do they find interesting? You should let your child guide the direction in which she takes her hobby. But be sure to gently introduce her to new coins or coin-collecting avenues if she seems so inclined.

For kids who quickly adopt the hobby, you may also want to take them to your nearest coin club or coin shows. You can also enroll them in the Young Numismatists program run by the American Numismatic Association (ANA).

Coin Collecting Is a Great Family Activity

Unlike so many diversions geared for children today, coin collecting is something that can truly be a family affair. Often, the most successful, and frankly most enjoyable, way for a child to embark on coin collecting is to share in the hobby with mom and dad.

Many parents will make it a goal to help their child fill a coin folder. You can embark on a team effort to look for all the coins that are necessary for completing a set. Not only can this encourage her to complete a set of coins, it's terrific parent-child bonding time. That's something you don't get if she's busy playing games on the phone by herself.

Before the 50 State Quarters were released in 1999, many parent-child duos worked on building complete sets of Lincoln Memorial pennies together. In more recent years, a common "family" coin-collecting goal has been to find every state among the various quarter designs. This often involves filling a colorful display board or map designed for holding all 50 quarters (or 56, with the District of Columbia and United States territories).

Of course, you and your child can also choose any bespoke coin-collecting goals you want to enjoy together. Maybe you want every denomination from a particular family member's birth year. One of the beauties of coin collecting as a hobby is that you—and your children—can use your creativity. Whatever coin collection you assemble can be a reflection of all sorts of personalized meanings and inspiration.

What About the Coin Collecting Merit Badge?

Boy Scouts coin collecting merit badge

Example of a Coin Collecting Merit Badge. Image via Coin Community Family forum user JESP

A lot of parents reading this article are here because they want to help their child earn their Boy Scouts Coin Collecting Merit Badge or Girl Scouts Fun With Money Patch. These achievements are relatively easy to obtain once you and your child know what the requirements are.

Because the goals for the Coin Collecting Merit Badge and Fun With Money Patch can and do change from time to time, it would be impractical to list them here. However, we do have resources linked below that can help you and your child find out everything you need to know about earning these time-honored Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts goals.

Collecting Coins Can Be a Rich, Lifelong Pursuit

Many longtime coin collectors (and coin dealers) will try to no end to get their children to follow their footsteps into the hobby. While this can be well-meaning, it’s really not best to force the hobby on a child. What’s the fastest way to turn a kid off to something? By essentially forcing them into it.

Of course, this goes for anything—sports, dance, music, arts, whatever. And surely, we’re not here to tell you how to parent your kid. But we’ve seen these situations happen all too often in the hobby. So, we’re just kindly passing the advice along!

It is absolutely a good idea to enthusiastically introduce your child to coin collecting. And, if she seems curious and engaged, you should continue forward together.

Oh, and what happens if your child, once a happy young coin collector, starts drifting away from the hobby? Don’t become too discouraged. It happens all the time. Some of the most passionate, successful “lifetime” coin collectors took a prolonged hiatus from the hobby during their high school or college years. They later picked it back up once they had a secure job (i.e. disposable income!) and some spare time to enjoy recreational activities such as collecting coins.

If you’d like more information about the hobby of coin collecting and need some solid advice from trusted professionals, please feel free to contact us at Gainesville Coins. While buying and selling bullion coins are among our core areas of business, we also buy and sell many collectible coins. We love helping provide parents and their children with some of the resources they need to enjoy an exciting journey into the wonderful world of coins!

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez is a journalist, editor, and blogger who has won multiple awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild. He has also authored numerous books, including works profiling the history of the United States Mint and United States coinage.

More about coin collecting:

The Beginner's Guide to Coin Collecting: 9 Must-Have Tips

Itty Bitty Silver Coin Committee: Collecting Tiny Circulating Silver Coins

Key Date Roosevelt Dimes (1946–present): Collecting Tips

You can find more coin collecting tips on the Gainesville Coins blog.

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