Collector tips: where to buy world coins, from obvious sources to the obscure

Internet offers many venues for collectors of ancient, world coins
By , Coin World
Published : 05/16/16
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For buying world coins, things aren’t as straightforward as with buying United States coins.

Go to any flea market, antique store or coin auction, and almost all of the coins you’ll find are American. From Lincoln cents to Indian Head 5-cent coins, Winged Liberty Head dimes and Morgan dollars, these famous and fantastic designs proliferate.

So what is a world coin collector to do? Grab the Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-2000, or Krause-Mishler catalog, and you’ll find tens of thousands of world coins listed on 2,300+ pages. The classic edition of the “Red Book” (properly known as A Guide Book of United States Coins) measures fewer than 500 pages, but carries in-depth research of the kind not found in the Standard Catalog.

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Then pause to consider that the aforementioned Krause-Mishler catalog (named for Chet Krause and Clifford Mishler, the progenitors of the research) is one of five such catalogs, all equally robust, listing coins dating back only to 1601. Add medieval, Byzantine and ancient coins to the mix, and the staggering array of options could overwhelm a collector.

Collecting world coins might require more patience and more diligence than searching for U.S. coins requires, but the rewards can be rich. 

Here’s a quick exploration of some of the main online venues where collectors can buy world coins. 

The obvious sources

The Internet of 10 years ago, or even five years ago, looked far different from what it does today.

Since eBay exploded onto the scene, that website has dominated the online auction space for all sorts of items, collectible to consumable. 

At any given moment, tens of thousands of coins from around the world are available through auctions or fixed-price listings at eBay.

The sheer volume of coin output, modern and historical, means that your ability to locate a given coin is going to depend on timing and luck.

Search for that new French Mint commemorative coin, and you’re likely to find it; look for tiny coin from a French feudal state and the search might take a lot more time.

While eBay remains a viable option for many collectors and dealers, many full-time dealers have created their own websites where they can sell the coins outright, without the fees and other strictures of the global powerhouse. 

Knowing which dealers specialize in what areas helps if your collecting approach is varied, but is absolutely essential after narrowing your focus. Identifying specialists that have years, or decades, of experience in your chosen collecting area can magnify your collection experience and connect you with kindred spirits.

Since not all dealers create their own websites, there are other options to consider.

Another auction option

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