Coin Collecting: Hobby or Business?

Brent Pittman —  11/09/2012
old coins

My first 50 cent piece and a wheat penny.

I’ve always been interested in collecting money. No one had to teach me to pick up pennies off the ground, it just came natural. I still remember when my uncle gave me a half dollar when I was a wee lad. I was in awe there could be a coin so big–I was hooked.

Often I found random coins lying about and kept them. I still have many of them in 2 zip lock bags (the ultimate storage device). One for U.S. coins and one for foreign coins–yes Canadian coins are ‘foreign’.

O.K. so I admit I have another stash of foreign currency left over from living in Asia. [Side note all that currency has increased in value so it’s really an investment 😉 ]

So back to the main point, is investing in coins a hobby or could I turn it into a side business?

Investing in Coins: My Education Begins

Are old coins worth money? Could a hobby of collecting coins and old currency make you rich? I’m sure you’re wondering the same thing. Here is what I found out.

I got a jump start on my coin collection education with J. Money’s article about his trip to his first coin show. What I learned is:

1) Do your homework.

2) Ask lots of questions.

3) Learn how to grade your coins properly.

4) Gold coins are valuable (at the time of writing) yet can fluctuate wildly in price.

5) Pick a certain coin or method and stick to it.

Penny Hoarding and Nickel Hoarding

I learned that some Americans are hoarding their pennies (1982 and older) for their copper content in hopes the penny will become outdated like the recent Canadian penny and they’ll be able to sell them for their copper content.

There are cool machines that will sort the copper from zinc pennies. Be sure to look through your the older copper pennies for rare pennies.

Some people are even starting to hoard nickels for their 75% copper and 25% nickel content.

Rare Coins

I’m also on the lookout for these 10 Rare Coins Worth Millions. Who knows what you’ll find at a yard sale or estate sale right?

Coin Collecting Information Overload

So after my initial dip into the coin collecting pool, I’ve figured out my knowledge of coin collecting is fairly limited and I’ve overwhelmed with all the information.

My first step is to try and pick up Coin Collecting For Dummies at a thrift store or see if my local library has it in stock. I also want to take a visit to a large coin store near my house to poke around, ask questions and see if any of my old coins are worth anything.

This seems like an interesting subject, so I’m sure I’ll have more articles about coin collecting in the future.

Hobby or Business? 

So can coin collecting move from a hobby to a business? I think yes, but it may take a large initial investment unless you inherit coins or buy and sort coins yourself.

You’ll also need to conduct your coin collecting as a business in the eyes of the IRS to write off any losses.

Do you keep old coins? Do you consider coin collecting a hobby or a business (investment)? 

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.
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  • AverageJoe

    I had a client who did this full time after starting out as a kid collecting for fun. He made some serious money doing it and had an inventory that was incredible to behold. Cool hobby at least…could be a good profession if you know your coins.

  • Yeah dog!! Love it! We’ll learn from the beginning together and see what happens from it 🙂 Worst case – we have a lot of money on our hands! Haha… it’s win-win.

    • My only fear is having an ‘old man’ hobby! 🙂

  • maria@moneyprinciple

    I know very little about this and frankly do find it a bit boring – like train spotting and stamps collecting. Having said this, there are many people who do one or all of these as a hobby.

    Any hobby can become a full time occupation but is it worth it?

    • I’m not sure I could do it for full time income, but I’m all for hobbies and passions turning into careers.

  • krantcents

    Although I do not collect coins, I have a Indian Head penny collection from my Dad. I am not sure if it is worth very much, but I will keep it for sentimental reasons. I used to collect stamps when I was a young person. My wife and I collect antique furniture and collectibles now. Whether it is a business or hobby it can be a nother source of income.