What is the Best Coin to Start Collecting?

old coins in chest

Whether you collect coins as an investment, a tangible connection to history, or a work of art, Phil's Coins has great value for you.

In this article, we will introduce you to ten coins that are a great way to start your coin collection. These coins are rare, but not so rare that the average collector can't afford them.

These coins are examples of coins that connect to history. They give collectors a tangible connection to another time. These coins are also likely to appreciate. You will always be able to find a market for them, and they will always be valuable as heirlooms.

We'll look at coins you can use to start your collection chronologically.

1878-CC Morgan Silver Dollar

In 1878, Congress passed the Bland-Allison Act, requiring the U.S. Mint to purchase enormous amounts of silver and turn it into silver dollars. Engraver George T. Morgan created a new design for this coin that was struck over 2 million times.

Many Morgan dollars entered circulation and are easy to find even today. They are an affordable choice for anyone collecting U.S. silver dollars. If you are buying a coin for your collection, the quality of grade MS-63 is OK. If you are purchasing this coin as an investment, look for grade MS-65 DMPL.

1908 St. Gaudens Roman Numerals No Motto

You will always pay a premium for gold. The St. Gaudens gold coins, however, were stuck in large numbers. You will pay a premium of about twice the spot price of an ounce of gold to own one of the most beautiful coins ever made by the U.S. Mint.

Earlier versions of this coin were made in high relief. That made them difficult to stack. Engravers have difficulty striking them correctly.

The design of St. Gaudens gold pieces was perfected for easy striking in 1908. The first few runs of these coins did not include the motto "In God We Trust," but coins made later that year did. Coins with the motto cost slightly more.

If you add this coin to your personal collection, look for MS-66 condition or better. If you buy the coin as an investment, look for MS-67 or better.

1916-D Mercury Dime

More appropriately called a "Winged Liberty" dime, the 1916-D Mercury dime is a prime example of the renaissance in American coin making just before the First World War. The Denver Mint only made 264,000 of these dimes, which are rare, but not especially difficult to find.

The optimal grade for your collection is F12. If you are buying Mercury dimes as an investment, look for AU-58.

1917 Standing Liberty Quarter: Type 1

1917 Standing Liberty quarters are an affordable example of classic American coinage. Type 1 features Lady Liberty with her left breast exposed. The public was outraged by this hint of nudity, so the Mint struck Type 2 coins with the breast covered later in the year.

The Mint released this coin in 1916, but so few examples of the Standing Liberty quarters from 1916 exist that it is rare and expensive.

If you buy this coin for your personal collection, look for grades MS-65 or higher. If you are purchasing this coin as an investment, look for a grade MS-67FH or better.

1932-D Washington Quarter

All modern quarters feature the face of George Washington, but this has only been true since 1932. The U.S. Mint designed quarters with the image of George Washington in honor of the 200th year after his birth.

1933 was a Depression year, so there are no 1933 Washington quarters. By 1934, however, the quarter had proven so popular that it was made in mass quantities. It continues to be minted today, although not in silver as in 1932.

If you add this coin to your personal collection, look for MS-58 conditions or higher. For investments, look for MS-64 or higher.

1937-D 3-Legged Buffalo Nickel

Dies for striking coins are hard to make. They are often polished or ground down to extend their life. In 1937, an overly zealous Mint employee polished a die-hard enough to erase one of the legs on the buffalo on the Buffalo Nickel. This created a collectible, but in 1937, coin collectors were focused on other coins. As a result, many of the 1937 D 3-Legged Buffalo nickels reached circulation, and their quality today is not as high.

Don't buy this coin if it is obvious the leg (or the wrong leg) has been scraped off. If you purchase 1937-D 3-Legged Buffalo nickels for your private collection, look for Ef-40 quality. If you are buying for an investment, look for MS-63.

1955/55 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent

The 1955/55 Doubled Die Lincoln penny is an error coin. Coins may go through multiple strings to achieve sharper detail. In 1955, a die was engraved with a slight error, resulting in 24,000 and 26,000 Lincoln pennies having an obvious overstrike over "1955."

The Mint caught the error but decided removing the double-struck pennies from circulation cost too much. Many collectors heard about the error soon after it happened, so many examples of this penny were taken out of circulation early and are in fine condition.

If you are buying this coin for your personal collection, look for quality MS-62 BN. If you are purchasing this coin as an investment, look for MS-65RB.

Do you need help finding coins on this list? Other good choices for starting your collection of American coins include the 1909-S V.D.B. Lincoln Cent, the 1921 Peace Dollar, and the 1914-D Lincoln Cent. Visit us at Phil's Coins about the best value for these and many other coins you will love in your collection! We are happy to answer your questions submitted online.


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