The following websites were referenced in researching this book:




Richard W. Avery












OUTSIDE THE BOX ebook publishing eISBN 978-3-943686-04-3 













Like the old saying goes, “Money makes the world go ‘round.”  We use it every day.  We could not acquire most necessary items needed in daily life without it.  We almost always want more of it, but for coin collectors, money is much more than a piece of metal.  It is  a hobby, a learning experience, and can be a lifelong obsession.


There really are no hard statistics on the amount of people who collect coins in the world.  Some people suggest that 1 out of every 10,000 people is an active coin collector.  That’s pretty staggering when you think about the population of the world.


People have been collecting coins for years.  At one time, it was called the hobby of kings, but today people from all walks of life and of all ages are maintaining coin collections.


Their reasons are varied.  Some like the history behind coinage.  Some do it to amass a collection worthy of handing down to future generations.  Still others are simply businesspeople buying and selling coins to make a living.  Collecting coins can be somewhat of a treasure hunt for many.  The quest for that one coin to complete their collection can be an obsession.


Whatever the reason, coin collecting is a very popular hobby – one that can be pursued by all age groups.  There are actually educational benefits to getting children started as coin collectors.


The practice of numismatics – that is, the collection and study of coins, paper money, tokens and medals – offers the collector many different areas to specialize in.  With the many specializations of coins, there is a wealth of material out there for coin collectors to concentrate on which makes it such an interesting and diverse hobby.


In this book, we will explore the phenomenon of coin collecting and give you ways to get started on your own collection.  There are many, many nuances of the hobby and it’s almost impossible to give you all the information you’ll need to become a seasoned collector.  What we have done is give you enough to get started in this rather enjoyable activity.


Let’s look at “VALUE A COIN.”



There are approximately $8 billion worth of coins circulating in the U.S. today. In the past 30 years, the U.S. Mint, who is responsible for designing and producing the nation’s coins, has minted over 300 billion coins, worth about $15 billion!

Since its creation in 1792, the U.S. Mint has grown into a large enterprise with more than $1 billion in annual revenues and 2,200 employees. It is by far the world's largest manufacturer of coins and medals, producing coins not only for the U.S. but on behalf of several other countries as well.

It can be interesting to know how coins are minted.  In order to make coins, the U.S. Mint purchases strips of metal (rolled into coils) in the proper dimensions and thicknesses.

Zinc metal strips coated with copper plating are used to make pennies. Strips used for nickels are comprised of a 75% copper, 25% nickel metal alloy. Dimes, quarters, half-dollars and dollar coins are produced of strips consisting of three metallic layers fused together. The outer layers of these strips are comprised of the same alloy as that used for nickels with the third (core) layer being comprised of copper.

The first step in the coin making process involves the feeding of the metal strips through what is known as a "blanking" press. This press punches out cut round discs (blanks) about the same size as the finished coin. These blanks are then heated in a furnace to soften them. Subsequently, the softened blanks are placed in rotating barrels of chemical solutions to clean and polish the metal. The cleaned and shiny blanks are then washed and dried.

Next, the blanks are sorted to remove any defective ones and the rest are put through an "upsetting" mill which raises a rim around their edges. The rimmed blanks then go to the coining or stamping press where upper and lower dies stamp the designs and inscriptions on both sides of the coin simultaneously. At this point, the blanks become genuine U.S. coins.

Finally, the finished coins are mechanically counted and placed into large canvas bags for shipment to the Federal Reserve Banks. From there they are shipped to local banks on an as-needed basis.

When the U. S. Mint was established the law required that all coins be made of gold, silver or copper. For a considerable period of time afterwards, gold was used in the $10, $5 and $2.50 pieces, silver was used to make the dollar, half-dollar, quarter, dime and half-dime while the penny and half-cent coins were made of copper.

In 1933, during the Great Depression, the U.S. Mint stopped making gold coins altogether. In 1965, as a result of a severe silver shortage, Congress dictated that silver no longer be used in making quarters and dimes. In addition, the silver content of the half-dollar (previously 90%) was reduced to 40% in 1965 and then eliminated entirely in 1971.

As previously mentioned, all of these coin denominations are now composed of copper-nickel clad with an outer layer of a 75% copper, 25% nickel alloy and a pure copper core. Nickels are made of the same copper-nickel alloy but without the copper core.

The penny's composition was altered in 1982 from 95% copper 5% zinc, to the current 97.5% zinc, 2.5% copper mix. This was done as a cost cutting measure and to make the penny lighter in weight.

The 25-cent (quarter), 10-cent (dime), five-cent (nickel) and one-cent (penny) pieces are the coin denominations commonly in use today in the U.S. Half-dollar and dollar coins continue to be issued but rarely circulate in everyday commerce.  Foreign coins exist in all sorts of denominations, so it’s impossible to list them all here.

U.S. coin denominations issued in the past but no longer in use include the half-cent, two-cent, three-cent, and 20-cent copper pieces and a small silver coin called a half-dime. Gold coins in denominations of $1, $2.50 ("Quarter Eagle"), $3, $5 ("Half Eagle"), $10 ("Eagle"), and $20 ("Double Eagle") were issued from time to time from 1793 until 1933.

Silver half-dollars have been minted in large quantities since 1793 and peaked in popularity with the introduction of the Kennedy half-dollar in 1964. Silver-less half-dollars were first introduced in 1971.



The first international convention for coin collectors was held in August of 1962 in Detroit, Michigan.  It was sponsored by the American Numismatic Association and the Canadian numismatic Association.  It was estimated that over 40,000 people attended this first convention


As you can easily see, this hobby is a very popular one and the numbers are sure to be growing every day as interest is piqued.  Now that we’ve got some facts about coins in general, let’s look specifically at the art of numismatics beginning with the terms you’ll need to know.