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Coin collecting is a timeless hobby that’s been enjoyed by enthusiasts for centuries. If you’re interested in starting a coin collection, perhaps it’s because of the intricate designs, historical significance or financial value of coins. However, the world of numismatics is complex, so it can be difficult to know how to begin.

If you’re a beginner looking for information and tips, this comprehensive coin collecting guide is the perfect starting point. It will provide you with valuable insights to help you navigate the world of coin collecting with confidence, intrigue and enthusiasm.

In this coin collecting guide, you’ll discover:

  • The history of coin collecting
  • The anatomy of a coin
  • Coin grading scales (including a coin grading table)
  • Reasons to sell your coins to Cash4Gold-Now
  • Coin collecting FAQs, including which coins are worth the most

The history of coin collecting

Coin collecting, also known as numismatics, dates back to ancient times. As long as there have been coins, there have been coin collectors. In fact, coin collecting is one of the oldest hobbies in the world.

Collecting coins can be traced back to ancient Rome, where evidence suggests individuals began amassing coins for their historical and artistic value. Even Emperor Augustus was said to have collected coins, gifting them to his friends.

A pile of old and extremely worn ancient Roman coins made from various metals and exhibiting different face values

As with many aspects of art and culture, the Renaissance transformed coin collecting. During this period, coin collecting gained much greater popularity, particularly among wealthy individuals and nobility. It was dubbed the moniker ‘the hobby of kings’ and became so popular that demand far outstripped supply.

During the 19th century, coin collecting evolved into a more widespread hobby among both the wealthy and the wider public. The scope of coin collecting also broadened from ancient coins to coins of the world, with coin catalogues, periodicals and reference books to help collectors identify and categorise coins.

This period also saw the establishment of numismatic societies and organisations dedicated to promoting the study and collection of coins, with membership open to all echelons of the wider public.

The 20th century saw the proliferation of coin collecting heighten even more. Events and communities for coin collectors, such as shows, conventions, local clubs, trade associations and conferences, sprouted up all over the world. With coin collecting now a popular market and well under the general public’s radar, ancient sites were excavated in an effort to locate more of these sought-after collectables.

Today, coin collecting continues to be a popular hobby enjoyed by people from all walks of life. With the rise of the internet, collectors now have access to online forums, marketplaces and resources that facilitate communities around buying, selling and researching coins. There’s never been a better time to equip yourself with the knowledge you need to start building a vibrant coin collection.

Anatomy of a coin

While coinage and coin collecting span across millennia, coins nonetheless share similar anatomical characteristics, which contribute to their design and functionality.

Understanding these characteristics is crucial for any coin collector. They tell you where the coin was made, when it was minted and how much it was worth at the time of issuance. It’s essential to familiarise yourself with coin anatomy and terminology for accurate coin identification and categorisation.

Rendering of a gold Britannia coin in mint condition as an example of high-value collectors coins to purchase and sell.

Here are the main anatomical features of a coin:

  • Obverse

    The obverse side of a coin is also known as the ‘heads’ side. It typically features the image of a prominent figure, such as a monarch, head of state or historical figure.

  • Reverse

    The reverse side of a coin is also known as the ‘tails’ side. It typically displays designs of national symbols or emblems. For example, modern American coins use the American Eagle.

  • Mint Mark

    The mint mark is a small symbol or letter indicating the mint (i.e. the manufacturer) that produced the coin. Mint marks provide information about the coin’s source, originally as a means to hold mint workshops to account for coinage quality.

  • Issuing Authority:

    Most coins feature an issuing authority, engraved in writing on the coin. This determines who made the coin and where it’s intended for circulation.

  • Face Value:

    The face value is how much the coin was worth at the time of its inception. This will be engraved on the coin. It can also be expressed in the metal used and the shape of the coin. For example, UK 50p and 20p coins are hexagonal, which helps those with disabilities distinguish between them.

  • Year:

    Coins have featured years on them since their early conception many centuries ago. These are reflective of the culture the coin was issued in and which calendar they used. For example, modern coins use the Gregorian calendar, but ancient Roman coins are often dated with the number of years since the emperor was crowned.

Coin grading scales and table

Coin grading is the process of assessing a coin’s condition and quality. Different scales are used to determine a coin’s grade, helping collectors evaluate a coin’s value and desirability in the market.

The UK and US coin grading systems are the only ones used in the international marketplace. Here, we’ll go into both.

The US coin grading system: the Sheldon Scale

Named after its creator, Dr. William Sheldon, the Sheldon Scale is a numerical grading system ranging from 1 to 70, with 1 being the lowest grade and 70 being a perfectly preserved, flawless coin.

The UK coin grading system: the Adjectival Scale

Unlike the Sheldon Scale’s numerical system, the Adjectival Scale uses descriptive terms to convey a coin’s grade. These terms include Poor (P), Fair (FA), About Good (AG), Good (G), Very Good (VG), Fine (F), Very Fine (VF), Extremely Fine (XF), About Uncirculated (AU) and Mint State (MS).

Coin grading table

This table provides a combination of US and UK grading scales to help you quickly compare coin grades across the two most commonly used coin grading systems:

UK Adjectival Scale GradingUS Sheldon Scale GradingDescription
Poor (P)1Coin heavily worn, with most design elements barely visible.
Fair (FA)2Coin heavily worn, with major loss of details and readability to the point that it’s almost smooth, although some features are still identifiable.
About Good (AG)3Coin considerably worn, with readable main design elements and letters.
Good (G)4–6Coin is worn but has readable elements. Details are visible but flat.
Very Good (VG)8–10Coin moderately worn, with visible design elements that are somewhat flat.
Fine (F)12–15Coin shows considerable wear, but has deeper detailing.
Very Fine (VF)20–35Coin exhibits obvious but restricted wear, with more definition in the detailing.
Extremely Fine (XF)40–45Coin has minimal wear, with most design details sharp and clear, although high points are somewhat flat.
About Uncirculated (AU)50–58Some friction over the surface, but overall maintains much of its visual appeal.
Mint State (MS)60–70The highest grade a coin can achieve. It has a full, outstanding lustre and the smallest marks, only discernible under a strong magnifying glass, or no marks whatsoever.


Please note that it is always recommended to consult reputable grading services, coin valuers or experienced numismatists for accurate coin grading assessments. You can get in touch with our expert team at Cash4Gold-Now to get an accurate quote for your gold coins.

Why sell your coins to Cash4Gold-Now?

When it comes to selling your valuable coins, it’s important to choose a trustworthy and reputable buyer to ensure you get the best price.

At Cash4Gold-Now, we’re committed to giving you the best possible price on the market in exchange for your gold coins. We offer a simple selling process, expert valuations and total flexibility in how you get paid.

A man uses his smartphone to easily fill in Cash4Gold-Now’s gold valuation application form via their website.

Over the past 50 years, Cash4Gold-Now has built a strong reputation as a market-leading gold coin buyer in the UK. This is evident through the positive customer feedback we receive on platforms like Trustpilot.

Here are some key reasons our customers are thrilled by the service from Cash4Gold-Now:

  • Transparent and Fair Process: At Cash4Gold-Now, we’re fully committed to providing a trustworthy service, giving you the best deal possible for your precious coin collections. Our gold valuers are trained experts and all valuations are recorded for your assurance.
  • Excellent Customer Service: Customers appreciate the prompt and helpful responses they receive throughout the selling process. Our knowledgeable and friendly staff ensure that questions are answered and any concerns are addressed promptly.
  • Efficient Processes: Cash4Gold-Now’s selling procedure promises a hassle-free experience from start to finish. Simply fill in a free valuation pack and post your gold coins at no cost to you, and we’ll send you a quote within 24 hours.
  • Flexible and Secure Transactions: We offer you the flexibility to get paid for your gold across a range of transaction methods to suit your preference. This includes direct debit, cash, cheque and PayPal. Across all transaction methods, we guarantee your payment’s security, giving you peace of mind knowing that you’ll receive a fair payment for your coins.
  • Timely Payments: Cash4Gold-Now is committed to timely payments once the coin valuation is complete and you’ve approved our quote. Fill in your gold valuation pack today, and you could receive payment for your gold within 24 hours.

When looking to sell your valuable coins, choosing a reputable buyer like Cash4Gold-Now can provide you with confidence and peace of mind throughout the selling process. Get started and sell your gold coins for the best price.

Get started with Coin collection

Excited to start on your coin-collecting journey? If so, it’s likely you have plenty of questions you’d like answered.

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions on coin collecting to help you along the way and make your coin collection a success.

What kind of coins do we buy at Cash4Gold-Now?

Cash4Gold-Now offers a reliable solution for selling a wide range of gold coins. Here are the gold coin types we buy:

  • American Eagle: Produced by the US Mint, the American Eagle is highly regarded for its iconic design and gold content.
  • Canadian Maple: Minted by the Royal Canadian Mint, the Canadian Maple is the official bullion coin of Canada.
  • Gold Krugerrand: Originating from the South African Mint, the Krugerrand is recognised globally and is one of the most widely traded coins.
  • Gold Sovereign: Produced in the UK, gold sovereigns are hugely popular coins bearing great value to investors and gold traders. As Cash4Gold-Now, we buy all types of gold sovereigns, including half sovereigns and quarter sovereigns.
  • Gold Britannia: Another popular coin minted in the UK, gold Britannias come in a wide variety of designs.

Don’t see your gold coin on the list? Get in touch with our expert coin valuers today and we can advise you on whether we’ll buy your coin.

What coins don’t we buy at Cash4Gold-Now?

While we accept a wide range of gold coins, it’s important to note that there are certain types of coins we do not purchase.

Cash4gold-now will buy all types of gold coins, even if they are damaged or have been mounted in jewellery. Our valuers will give you the best price for your gold coins based on gold fineness, weight, rarity and condition.

If you are unsure as to whether we’ll buy your gold coin, feel free to reach out to one of our helpful experts. We’d be happy to discuss your gold coins and whether they meet our buying criteria. Get in touch, today.

Is it worth collecting old coins? 

Collecting old coins offers a range of benefits that make it an attractive and potentially rewarding pursuit — and not just because of what the coin is worth.

Here are some of the main advantages of collecting old coins, particularly gold coins:

    • Potential for Appreciation in Value: Many people collect gold coins because of their value. Coins offer potential as an investment, as their value can greatly increase over time. In fact, some coins are so rare that they end up being worth millions.
    • Historical and Cultural Significance: Old coins, especially those made from gold, often carry immense historical and cultural significance. As a piece of history, old coins are a vestige of the ideas, values, art, culture and politics of the time and civilisation they were made.
    • Educational and Intellectual Stimulation: Rich in history, symbolism and subtleties, numismatics is an intellectual pursuit. The process of researching and studying coins offers an educational journey into history, politics, economics, culture and minting craftsmanship.
  • Sense of Accomplishment: When you become an established coin collector with a portfolio of diverse, old and valuable coins, you’ll feel proud of your accomplishment. And acquiring particularly rare and sought-after coins provides a thrill every time.
  • Leaving a Legacy: Some families collect coins across the centuries, with one generation passing their collection down to the next. In doing so, you can leave a unique and valuable legacy for your family to remember you by.
  • Aesthetic and Artistic Appeal: Gold coins often exhibit exquisite craftsmanship and intricate designs, making them aesthetically pleasing objects to collect and appreciate.

What are the best types of coins to collect? 

When building your coin collection, it’s essential to understand which coins are highly regarded and sought after. With countless options available, it can be challenging to determine the best types of coins to collect.

While value varies from coin to coin, here are a few UK collectable coin types to look out for, as they’re recognised as being highly coveted:

  • 2017 Sir Isaac Newton 50p: Issued in 2017 to commemorate the achievements of Sir Isaac Newton, this coin has the second-lowest mintage figure for any 50p in circulation.
  • 2022 Platinum Jubilee 50p: To commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, the Royal Mint issued the UK’s first-ever royal 50p. Unsurprisingly, the coin received unprecedented demand due to its rarity and significance.
  • Kew Gardens 50p: This is one of the rarest 50p coins in circulation, with only 210,000 ever minted.
  • Undated 20p: This coin is sought-after for being the first in over 300 years to be circulated without a date.
  • 2023 UK Coronation 50p and £5: Marking the coronation of King Charles III, the Royal Mint issued the UK’s first ever Coronation 50p alongside a £5 coin.

Are old UK pennies worth anything?

If you’ve come across a collection of old UK pennies, you may wonder if they hold any significant value. Just because a penny’s face value is the lowest of any modern-day UK coin doesn’t mean your old pennies are worthless — far from it.

Like any coin, the worth of old UK pennies varies based on several factors, including their age, condition, rarity and demand among collectors.

A UK 1938 one penny coin exhibiting wear and tear.

In fact, the most expensive British coin to date is a penny. The 1933 penny fetched up to £100,000 at auction, making it the most valuable British coin. This is due to its rarity: only a handful of pennies were produced in 1933, for ceremonial purposes only.

So, before you throw out your old pennies, think again. Depending on its condition, year and rarity, your old penny could be worth a lot. If you possess old UK pennies and you’d like to know their worth, feel free to get in touch with our reputable coin dealers and gold valuers to obtain an accurate assessment of their worth.

How should I start collecting coins?

If you’re considering building a coin collection but don’t know where to begin, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Begin by educating yourself on the basics of coin grading, mint marks and historical context. Seek out books, online articles, forums and numismatic societies to help you glean valuable information and insights. Gaining knowledge will enhance your understanding and appreciation of the coins you collect and will ensure you don’t overspend on adding less valuable coins to your collection.
  • The quickest way to begin your coin collection is by looking at what’s already in your pockets. Start saving specific coins from your pocket change and watch your budding collection quickly grow.
  • Choose a category to direct your approach to coin collecting. Generally speaking, coin collectors specialise in one of four categories:
    • Theme: Collecting by theme means focusing on a topic, character, location, event, emblem or similar as depicted on the coin. For example, some British coin themes are the Tower of London, Remembrance Day, Harry Potter, Paddington Bear and the Royal Albert Hall.
    • Historical significance: If you’re a history enthusiast, collecting coins according to the period they were produced in is an interesting and educational category choice.
    • Type/denomination: This involves categorising coins according to their value, such as a penny or a farthing.
    • Country of origin: Categorising your coin collection by the country it originates from offers an opportunity to delve into geography, history and culture simultaneously.
  • Use coin albums, folders or a coin tray to organise, store and protect your coins. These storage options allow you to safely display and store your collection and are available in various formats specifically designed for coin collecting.

While these tips should help you start your coin collection right on track, remember that coin collecting is a personal pursuit and the most important aspect is to have fun while exploring your individual interests.

A coin collector’s pile of coins from different origins and years, and of different face values.

How can I sell my old gold coins ?

As you progress along your coin-collecting journey, you may reach a point where you want to sell your coins. It’s important to remember that your collection holds not only sentimental value but also the potential for financial gains. Even the most dedicated coin collectors may wish to sell portions of their collections for various reasons.

When the time comes to part ways with your coins, Cash4Gold-Now offers a convenient and reliable service for selling your gold coins.

Our expertise in evaluating gold coins ensures that you receive a fair and competitive offer for your collection.

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