Coin and bank note collecting is one of the most popular hobbies in the world, with over one million collectors in Canada today, and over 20 million collectors in the United States. The fascination with old coins is almost universal, and the reasons are easy to see. A coin captures a moment in history with images and effigies of the era. They may be works of art that once served as money, and they may be struck in precious metals giving them an intrinsic value as well as collector value. Bank notes provide an even larger canvas for the art and styles of an era gone by, and are often extremely rare because of low survival rates.
Most collectors take out their collections regularly and look at what they have built. There is always a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction as a missing spot in a collection is filled, or the quality of a collection is upgraded. The scarcest pieces often require searching, and are sometimes only available in the market on rare occasions.
Historically, most good quality collector coins and bank notes have appreciated in value, in many cases at faster rates than stock markets or other investments. While collector coin values follows the basic rules of supply and demand, the supply of older scarce coins remains constant while the population grows and the number of collectors continues to increase. Building a collection can provide pleasure for the collector today, serve as a store of value, and can also turn out to be a good investment.
Coin collecting is by no means a new phenomenon. The hobby of coin collecting dates back to shortly after the first coins of the world were struck more than 2,500 years ago, and has steadily gained in popularity as people have acquired more disposable income and leisure time. Over the past century, new books on coins and bank notes have allowed collectors to better understand the history and the scarcity of the items they collect. In more recent years, the information age has brought instant access to information about coins and bank notes, and the ability to find and purchase even the most obscure collector coins and notes.
Since the end of silver coins in circulation in the late 1960s, the Royal Canadian Mint, the United States Mint, and numerous other mints have intentionally and unintentionally produced many coins that are now widely sought after by collectors. Commemorative issues struck for general circulation have marked important events and anniversaries in our history. These issues have all been extremely popular and provide new collectors with a no risk way to start collecting with coins they can acquire at face value. A few coins with low mintages or scarce varieties also give collectors the opportunity to treasure hunt their change, and occasionally be rewarded with a rare find. For those seeking beautiful designs in the highest possible condition, new coins produced especially for collectors by the Royal Canadian Mint and other mints use leading edge minting technology and superb designs to create medallic works of art with a broad appeal.
It is possible to build an appealing collection on almost any budget. For a less than $100, it is possible to build a collection of modern commemorative coins issued for circulation. With a budget of $10 million, it may be possible over a long period of time to acquire a superb uncirculated example of every coin ever issued for circulation in the history of Canada. Each collector has his or her own reason for collecting and level of interest and investment. For anyone who has not collected before, there will be a great sense of satisfaction as you build a link to the past, learn about history, and build a tangible asset you can take out to view, continue to build, and perhaps even create an heirloom for your children.