Helpful Collecting Tips

If you're new to coin or paper money collecting, here are some helpful tips to get you started:

Look for coins with eye appeal

Whether a coin is Circulated or Uncirculated, its appearance and beauty are foremost in the eyes of the collector. The number one thing we look for at Littleton is "eye appeal". Find coins that will please you every time you look at your collection.

[photo: From top right: the U.S. Half Cent, Two-Cent Piece, Silver Three-Cent Piece and Half Dime]

A year set of Lincoln Memorial cents will contain at least one coin from each year: 1959-2008.

Start small

It can be easy to get discouraged if your collection starts out too big. Start small, perhaps with a year set of Lincoln Memorial cents. Then you can add to that, and form a complete date and mint mark set of Memorial cents. From there, it's easy for you to branch out to the anniversary cent designs, Shield reverse issues, and eventually the earlier Lincoln cents with the Wheat Ears reverse. With Washington quarters, you might start with Statehood and National Park issues, then expand to earlier Washington quarters with the traditional Eagle reverse.

[photo: From top right: the U.S. Half Cent, Two-Cent Piece, Silver Three-Cent Piece and Half Dime]

These early U.S. coins are all over 120 years old, and represent a fascinating piece of America's history.

Choose an area that interests you

Like American history? Perhaps a collection of bank notes from the Civil War, or early U.S. coins, is for you. If you like beauty and artistry, you could work on a Liberty-themed collection. And if your favorite president is honored on coins or paper money, you can collect pieces bearing his portrait. No matter your interests, you can tailor your collection to meet your individual tastes.

[photo: From top right: the U.S. Half Cent, Two-Cent Piece, Silver Three-Cent Piece and Half Dime]

Be sure to keep in mind the quality of a coin's strike, especially on older U.S. issues like Morgan silver dollars.

Look at strike

Some earlier U.S. coins (like Morgan silver dollars) exhibit variations within the quality of their strike (the detail and relief of design elements). When adding such pieces to your collection, keep in mind their strike quality when shopping.

Remember, you can always upgrade later

For one reason or another, certain collectibles can carry a high price tag. While you should always keep eye appeal at the forefront, don't over-extend your budget! You can always come back later to upgrade those scarce and rare pieces in your collection.

Handle your coins and notes properly

Many beginning collectors have damaged their coins and notes by improperly handling, storing, or cleaning the pieces. Our articles on caring for your coins and caring for your paper money have information on how to avoid these critical mistakes!

Most importantly, have fun!

Coin and paper money collections can be as varied as the people who build them. No matter how you choose to collect, make sure that you have fun doing so!