Pros and Cons of Collecting US Coins

When you’re first getting into coins, figuring out what you want to collect can be a daunting prospect. Most of us have a starter set that got us interested, commonly wheat pennies or buffalo nickels. But the question is, where do you go next?

The most common answer is another series within US coinage. But there are really three large collecting genres to explore: US, world, and ancients, all of which have their own pros and cons. We’ll take a look at each, but let’s start off with US coins.


1940 mercury dime obverse US coins are well-documented and accessible. US coins are unquestionably the easiest to research. Any series you pick is almost guaranteed to have a book (or several) dedicated to it. You can find multiple price guides, plentiful auction records, and plenty of other collectors in the hobby ready to help answer any questions you have.

US coins are widely available. Unless you’re looking for something incredibly rare or a stunning grade, you won’t have much trouble finding pieces for sale. The bulk of most dealers’ inventories and major auctions is US coinage, providing everything from the cheapest raw pieces to the multi-million dollar coins

You'll find plenty of storage options. If you’re collecting raw coins, there are plenty of folders and albums available for most series to provide a framework for your set. You’ll probably be able to find an album in whatever style or brand you prefer, especially if it’s a commonly collected series.

There's something for everyone. There’s a wide range of options within US coins suited to just about any budget and/or interest. Any 20th century series is generally pretty accessible, and they are generally less expensive the newer they are. If you’re looking to spend a bit more, you can look to the early US coinage or a gold series.


Strong demand sometimes means higher prices. Because there are so many collectors, prices are higher for pieces with the same rarity compared to world or ancient pieces. The rise in popularity of registry sets has only made this more pronounced for 1924 standing liberty quarter-1top pop pieces, which tend to go for significantly higher prices compared to the next grade down. There’s likely to be multiple people competing for any given piece, which drives prices up. 

Registry sets are competitive. Registry sets are very popular. It’s virtually impossible to get a #1 ranked registry set in any US series unless you have very deep pockets. This is only a concern if you’re collecting graded pieces and care about registry sets, but they’re a very popular tool for collecting that can add a fun challenge when obtaining a high-ranking set is within reach.

Cherrypicking opportunities are out there, but you're not the only one looking.  Because research is so accessible, cherrypicking valuable varieties of US coins can sometimes be a challenge. There are enough people on the lookout for the same varieties that you may not be the only person to notice if something comes up for auction unattributed.

Overall, US coins are by far the most popular area of collecting here in America. They’re widely available, widely researched, and widely coveted. They’re a fantastic starting point to learn about the hobby, and the majority of collectors stay here, moving on to different series as their knowledge grows. 

Happy Collecting!


National Coin Week 2021

One hundred years ago, the U.S. Mint reintroduced the Morgan dollar after a 16-year absence. Later that year, production began on a new silver coin, the Peace dollar. And 50 years ago, minting of the Eisenhower dollar commenced.

Milestone anniversaries for these three large and iconic coins inspires the theme of 2021 National Coin Week, Money, Big & BOLD. The 98th annual event, held April 18-24, will focus on strong initiative in numismatics, and bold leadership and ideas depicted on coins and paper money. 

Click the banner below to learn more!

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About the American Numismatic Association

The American Numismatic Association (ANA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and encouraging people to study and collect coins and related items. The Association serves the academic community, collectors and the general public with an interest in numismatics.

The ANA helps all people discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of educational programs including its museum, library, publications, conventions and numismatic seminars and webinars. 

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Introduce a Child to the Hobby You Cherish!

Introduce a child to coin collecting with the gift of ANA membership. And for a limited time, your young gift recipient (age 5-17) also will receive a package of fun collectibles!

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