Guide to essential coin collecting equipment and supplies

The Essential Supplies
The essential supplies needed for competently collecting coins

I have decided to post a list of what I think are the ‘essentials’ that every amateur numismatist should aim to acquire in the first few weeks after deciding to make a serious hobby out of something they have, like I did, toyed and dabbled with for a while. I make no bones about pitching at this level as I believe it is an easily attainable list for most people without wishing you had invested a few more pounds or dollars in kit.

Storage – there are any number of ways of storing coins out there, 2×2’s; cardboard folders, cabinets etc. For the novice amateur finding his way in the hobby, I would suggest buying a couple of pocket sized non PVC coin folders (about £5 each) – 1 with spaces suitable for crowns and half crowns and one with smaller spaces for pennies and up to 50p sized coins. I would also suggest purchasing a small quantity of hard plastic capsules in whatever size you need or, alternatively, for Silver Dollar/Crown size about (£3 for 10)
Find somewhere in your home to store these wallets and capsules – I have a wonderfully deep drawer in an old desk in my office.
Magnification – I would suggest getting a cheap portable (ideally closeable) magnifying glass of approx 2-3x magnification to put in your coat pocket (~£2-3) and a stronger, perhaps 5-10x magnification eyepiece to keep with your collection at home (~£5). These should be perfectly adequate to get you going!
Protection – Personally I use some cut up pieces of thick, soft green cotton on top of an old mouse mat to lay coins on ( I got this free) but a metre of fabric from your local shop should cost ~£10 and you should have plenty left to line a suitable drawer.
Gloves – it’s up to you, I use a £2 for 100 box of disposable latex exam gloves but you can buy some cheap white cotton gloves too. Either way, you NEED gloves – don’t even think about handling a high value, proof or BU coin otherwise.
Scales/balance – invaluable as you will see from my experiences of eBay fakes! You will spot >90% of fakes this way in my experience and a reasonably precise and accurate digital unit can be found for less than a fiver! (I can point you to a supplier I found to be good)
Measuring device – A digital vernier calliper is probably a good buy but you will expect to lay out £30 or so for a suitable one so personally I used a ruler for ages! Not perfectly accurate, but near enough for the beginner and cheap as chips!!
Books – See my page on books for more details but at a minimum, before you buy coins for more than a couple of quid, you need to buy the appropriate catalogue. The main ones are Spink and the Blue Book for British and US coins respectively.
Record keeping – my advice would be keep it simple at first but do it! You probably won’t know how you are going to want your collection catalogued at first but keep your records for later – a jotter or note book is perfectly fine!
Imaging – it is very useful to have a way of making good images of your coins, both for study and to enable discussion, swapping and selling of your collection. There are 2 main options for you here – either a digital camera or a decent scanner (the later would be my preferred option). Indeed you may well have one or both of these devices already but if not, may I suggest spending £50 or £60 on a low to mid range scanner or camera as you will find the quality of images produced by today’s devices are quite sufficient even at the bottom end of the price range!

I hope this list is of some use to you and please get in touch if you would like some more specific guidance.