What Coins Should You Give Your Children or Grandchildren?
Susan Headley is a well-respected coin collecting expert and writer with over 30 years of hands-on numismatic experience.She is a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and holds several certifications. Susan also belongs to the American Numismatic Society (ANS) and CONECA (error and variety coins club).
Learn more about The Spruce Crafts'Editorial Process
Updated on 08/25/20
Many people like to start a coin collection for their children or grandchildren as a sort of investment for them. These collections are typically held by the parent or grandparent on the child's behalf, with the intention of giving them to the child at a certain age, or as an inheritance. Sometimes the coins may be given directly to the children when you think they are ready to start collecting coins. Coin collectors always wish that their children will pick up the hobby just as they did. But sometimes, that is not the case.
Before You Start
Before you start collecting coins on behalf of your kids, you should take a moment to consider a couple of points. First of all, like all investments, collecting coins costs money, so you need to determine how much you can afford to spend each year or month on coins.
Second, you must decide what the ultimate goal of this collection is. Are these coins meant to help put the child through college, or are they just meant to be a nice gift that hopefully has some higher future value? Is this coin collection intended as a monetary investment to be cashed in someday, or do you mean for the coins to become family heirlooms which will be passed down through the years? Or perhaps you hope that the child will take up the coin collecting hobby someday.
Depending on what your collecting goals are, and what your budget is, you'll want to buy different types of coins. Your collecting goal will also determine where the best place to buy your coins. Also, avoid buying coins from the Internet or at flea markets. These places are always littered with conmen trying to rip you off.You should start to build a relationship with an experienced coin dealer that can provide guidance and education to both you and your young numismatist.
Starting a Coin Collection on a Tiny Budget
For the sake of this discussion, we'll consider a tiny budget to be between $50 and $100 a year. This is the type of collection where you buy something at Christmas, for the child's birthday, and usually not at any other time.
Proof Sets and Mint Sets
The typical coin gifts of this type are mint sets, such as the U.S. Mint's annual uncirculated coins set, or the annual Proof set. These sets typically cost less than $25 for the uncirculated sets and approximately $50 for a non-silver proof set. Fancier silver proof sets run $50 and up. Historically, the United States Mint Proof sets and uncirculated sets make bad investments. However, the bright and brilliant surfaces of these specially minted coins can spark an interest in a young collector.
Another popular U.S. Mint investment coin type for the person on a tight budget is the U.S. Silver Eagle. The design consists of the classic walking Lady Liberty on the obverse (the same as on the Walking Liberty half dollar) and a special design of a heraldic eagle on the reverse. These are one full troy ounce silver bullion coins that are typically sold for a couple of dollars over the spot price of silver. They make an excellent investment if you think the price of silver will be going up.
Although the U.S. Mint sells Proof Silver Eagles and specially mint-marked uncirculated Silver Eagles directly to collectors through the U.S. Mint Web site, you'll have to buy the "generic" Silver Eagles from a coin or bulliondealer to get the lower price. I recommend buying the generic Silver Eagles if you are investing, and the Proof coins if you are buying heirlooms.
Foreign and World Coins
Mints around the world have started producing commemorative coins on just about every subject imaginable. If your child is interested in a particular topic, there might be a coin that covers it. For example, the Royal Canadian Mint recently completed a series of "superheroes" that included such characters as Superman, Batman,Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Wondergirl. Science and astronomy is another topic that has been widely covered by foreign mints around the world. These include curved coins (convex on one side and concave on the other) that were minted to resemble the moon or different celestial bodies.
For the extremely budget minder collector, you can purchase modern foreign coins by the pound. This makes a fun project for the child to sort the coins and place them in their collection.
Motivating a Child to Start a Coin Collection
If your primary goal is getting your child or grandchild to take an interest in collecting coins, your best purchases are not the mint sets offered by the U.S Mint, but rather unsearched or "bulk mixed" lots of older U.S. coin types. For example, you could buy 20 rolls of mixed circulatedwheat cents, plus the Whitman wheat cent coin folders to put the coins into. When the child is old enough, start giving them the accumulated stash, a little at a time, and see if interest develops. Sit down with your child, and show him or her how to look at each coin and place it in the proper spot.
Good coin types to accumulate for this kind of endeavor include wheat cents, Jefferson nickels, Buffalo nickels, Indian Head pennies, Mercury dimes, and pre-1965 Roosevelt dimes. Once you start collecting silver quarters, halves and dollars, you're getting into pricey coins that cross the line from "a starter collection for a child" to "investment-quality coins." Whatever coin types you buy, be sure to purchase coin folders or albums, so the youngster has somewhere to display all of their "finds" once he or she sorts through the rolls.
Start Collecting for a Youngster Now
If you are ready to get started with a child who wants to start a coin collection now, check out this article about How to Start a Coin Collection on $4, or two rolls of nickels. You can substitute pennies, dimes, or state quarters to start a collection right out of pocket change, but be sure to get the coin folder to collect them in. Remember, finding a new coin to fill an empty hole is most of the fun and satisfaction for new coin collectors!
If your child is interested in coins from around the world, then the best way to store them is to buy 2 x 2 cardboard coin holders with plastic pages to hold them that fit into a three-ring binder. That way, you can rearrange your coin collection to suit the child's interest at any given moment. Organize them by country, continent, subject matter or any way that makes sense to the child. There is no right or wrong way to collect world coins.
Be Sure Your New Coin Collection is Safe
Whether you decide to collect for investment purposes, heirloom reasons, or for the fun of it, remember to use common sense safety practices in accumulating your treasures. Do not keep investment and heirloom coins at home! Get a safety deposit box for them.
Coins that the kids are actively collecting can be kept at home, but keep them stored away in drawers out of sight of visitors to your home, especially if strangers visit. If the kids lose interest in a specific folder or coin type, take them to the bank and store them in the safety deposit box until the kids ask for them again. You may also want to invest in a home safe.
Coins are always one of the first things burglars will grab because they are quickly sold. It never hurts to establish good collecting practices right from the start by always teaching your child to put his or her coins and folders away out of sight when he or she is done with them for the day.
You Don't Have to Collect Coins on Your Own
If you'd like to talk to someone else who can give you some advice about what to buy, develop a relationship with a local coin dealer. If the kids have taken an interest in a new coin collection, find a local coin club they can join, and go to the meetings with them—not only as a chaperone but to learn more yourself about which coins make suitable investments and which ones are just "fun to collect." Many coin clubs have special programs for youngnumismatists.
Collecting coins on behalf of, or along with, youngsters is a fun and rewarding project for everyone involved. Remember, it is not a race to complete the collection. Enjoy the journey and cherish the time you are spending with your child or grandchild. Be sure to check out theTop 5 Worst Coin Investments so that you can avoid some of these costly mistakes!
Edited by: James Bucki