Minted collectors can coin it in - with Michael Dowse

Michael Dowse.
Michael Dowse.

There is a huge variety of coins available nowadays to suit the tastes and interests of every collector.

The numismatist is, by default, also a student of history. Collectors tend to concentrate on coins and currency from their own country as coins reveal a lot about a country’s history, heritage and even aspirations.

Coins, as we think of them today, first made their appearance in the Eastern Mediterranean about 600 BC.

Exact details are patchy but the Kingdom of Lydia (Turkey) has long been regarded as the birthplace of regular coinage.

Although dating this coin is a hotly debated topic amongst ancient numismatists – somewhere between 700BC and 550BC.

Ancient coins are a major draw for many collectors with Greek and Roman coins continuing to be the most highly prized and popular.

Collectors can access the quality of coins available for sale by using a coin grading system.

The European system is a simple system of description – good, fine, very fine, extremely fine and mint state.

The American system, on the other hand, is a more complex and detailed numerical one.

The value of a coin will always depend greatly on its quality.

Mint state, however, is not always obtainable, particularly in the more common base-metal coins that were never considered precious enough at the time of production to be handled with extra care.

Whereas a gold coin, which is looked after right from the day it is made, can more easily be found in extremely fine condition.

Collectors must consider this dilemma when buying and hunting for that elusive item for their collection.