Coin Collecting, the Hobby of Kings

But also a hobby for even the poorest of us


A modern twenty-dollar gold piece
A modern bullion coin — photo by author

Years back, thousands of years back, the only coin collectors likely were royalty and other wealthy people. In one sense, anyone amassing money was a collector, but we think we know that some had a deeper interest in the designs or dates of the money they owned.

People still collect coins today. It’s a great hobby for the rich and for people of much more modest means. People keep samples of coins from countries they have visited — that is a coin collection. In the United States, some people try to find each of the various “State Quarters” our Mint issued from 1999 to 2009. Those are coin collections.

You might remember trying to fill each date in a little book made to hold Lincoln Cents. That would be a very large book today, with a lot of pennies in it! Lincoln Cents have been produced since 1909 and even though pennies are nearly worthless now and are often an annoyance, we still make them today.

A complete collection of Lincoln cents including every date and every mint that issued them (Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco) would be nearly impossible to collect from change today and quite expensive to buy. The same is true for Roosevelt Dimes and Washington Quarters. Jefferson Nickels are a bit easier, but still quite difficult. All of this means that traditional coin collecting by date and mint mark has become a hobby once again for the wealthy.

But there are other ways to collect. I collect by “type” or the design on the coin. Lincoln cents once had wheat ears on the reverse, then switched to a representation of the Lincoln Memorial in 1959. Before Lincoln Cents, we had an Indian Head design, and before that there were Flying Eagle Cents and then Large Cents, with five major types within them. A complete set of all those would be expensive, but leaving out the Large Cents, or just having one to show the change, is much less so.

You can specialize to any degree you want. People can and do collect by die variations that most of us would never notice. Even the modern Lincoln Cents today have small variations, some of which sell for high prices, but can still be found in change.



Anthony (Tony/Pcunix) Lawrence

Retired Unix Consultant. I write tech and humor mostly but sometimes other things. see my Lists if your interests are specific.