Two Of The Biggest Myths About Collecting US Coins (That Could Cost You Money)

Coin collecting is one of the oldest hobbies in the world, appearing in archaeological records as far back at 650 BC and being nicknamed "The Hobby of Kings." But despite that popularity, it's easy for people who don't have a lot of experience to make a mistake when it comes to their coins - a mistake that could be costly. Here's a look at two of the biggest myths of US coin collecting that could cause a collector to lose money.

Myth #1: "Limited Edition" Coins Will Be Worth A Lot Of Money in the Future

Around since the 1960s, United States special commemorative coins certainly do look nice: limited edition printed coins nestled in velvet boxes, often with bright colors and commemorating special events. It might be tempting to see these coins as a potential investment and purchase a few to hide away for the future. They're not likely to be worth a whole lot in the years to come though.

A coin's value is driven by one single factor: if people want it and if it's hard to own. People may indeed want these limited edition coins, but there's nothing easier to own than a coin that was designed just to be collected. If you're particularly interested in the event the coin commemorates, or you just like the way it looks, don't feel bad about purchasing one as a display piece. But these shouldn't be purchased with the hope to cash in on later.

Myth #2: Shiny is better, so get those coins gleaming

In general, cleaning coins is a pretty big no-no in the collecting world. Yet time and time again, an inexperienced collector will come across some old coins and fall victim to the believe that shiny is better. Unfortunately, cleaning a coin can absolutely ruin its value, making a coin worthless if abrasive cleaners are used. Cleaning a coin will almost always damage the coin's surface. A coin that has been exposed to the air will have a natural "toning" over time, so anything that appears "dirty" may actually be quite normal.

If you have some coins that you think may be worth something, your best bet is to consult a professional collector or a collecting magazine and web site. If you are indeed interested in selling a coin that's worth money, you probably know that condition is everything, so you'll want to have your coins assessed by a coin grading service. You may be surprised to find out that a dirty old coin you found in the back of a drawer is in better shape (and worth more money) than you ever imagined!