Giving coins for gifts on birthdays, graduations, Christmas and other special events has exploded in recent years. The 50 State Quarters© Program started back in 1999 helped nudge up coin collecting and coin gift giving. The new Presidential $1 Coins program started this year will likely continue the momentum.
Many coin dealers and their websites showcase "Gift Idea" products. With all the choices out there, what makes a good coin gift? When should you start? Can coin gifts start someone down the path to coin collecting? How much should you spend? Let’s tackle these questions and more!
Giving Complete Coin Collections as Gifts
I’ve heard and read about parents and grandparents who actually build coin collection sets with the sole intent of later giving them to their children or grandchildren. Aside from the real joy of such a gift, coin collections have the potential to improve in value over time. They could be considered investments. An investment where the child, because of their emotional attachment to the gifted coins, is less likely to frivolously sell them.
Some people build coin collections for a child intending them to become family heirlooms. While still others love coin collecting so much that they hope by giving a complete collection to a child that’ll it’ll encourage them to collect coins as well.
If you’re building or have built a collection for someone else, it’s a commendable undertaking. You’re going to pass on some special history that’ll likely be well received and highly appreciated for years to come. If you’re thinking about starting such a coin collection, here are a few things to consider:
- If you do this for one child, it’s very hard not to do the same or something similar for other children. That can be quite a planning and financial undertaking. As young parents, do you buy two of every coin because you intend to have two children and you want them to receive the same collection out of fairness? What happens if you eventually have a third child? As grandparents, it’s even more difficult – both in planning and in the commitment to spend money.
- A coin collection to one child won’t mean the same to another. Don’t get hurt if you later find out your gifted coins were sold.
- If you enjoy coins and build your own collections, consider keeping them separate from any collection you intend giving away. Why? Read the next bullet.
- If you’re passing on a collection you’ve enjoyed building, you may experience a mental tug of war on when to part with it. And holding on to it until you die likely isn’t going to serve your purpose for initially starting the collection (unless you started it for yourself). If you wait too long, your children or grandchildren may be older than desired and unable to truly appreciate the collection like you had really hoped and expected.
Giving Single Coins as Gifts
Coins given during holidays or other special events make excellent gifts and that’s why most people choose single coins as frequent gifts instead of taking the time to build an entire collection and giving it to that special someone. Usually these gifts are for those who are still young and many times, if continued as kind of a traditional and yearly gift, they can help that special person build an interest in coin collecting.
Even if they don’t choose coin collecting as a hobby, a coin gift can be particularly unique and often appreciated above other gifts. Minimally, they’re going to last. They won’t "break", get outgrown or simply discarded, like most toys will eventually (if not in hours…). Coins are also more likely to retain their value and many times actually increase in value over the years.
When giving one or two coins as gifts, here are some things to think about:
- A two or three year old isn’t going to appreciate or understand a coin gift. Age is always a consideration for appreciated coins. You’ll find children as young as five who can really love coins, gushing with joy and curiosity when receiving one. But it’s different for everyone.
- Like gifting entire collections, there are costs to consider. Many years back my father started giving United States Mint Proof Sets and United States Mint Uncirculated Sets each year to the grandchildren. Now with many grandchildren, the cost and effort of these gifts have gone up substantially. This year the price for a single proof and mint set will take nearly $50 out of your wallet. (A proof coin is specially minted with polished planchets and dies and is struck multiple times so it shines more and has great looking detail.)
- Consider using special coin holders or other packaging that’ll tie the coin better to the special occasion. For example, if you’re giving a coin as a birthday gift, you’ll find many very attractive birthday coin holders. Not only do the holders help protect the coin but they actually can make your present stand out much more.
What Type of Coins Make Good Gifts?
There is a huge choice in types of coins that can make great gifts. Here are a few things to consider:
- Younger children tend to really enjoy large coins, shiny coins or both. For these reasons, the American Eagle Silver Proof coin is extremely popular. Even the less expensive uncirculated versions stand out. Of course, if you really have the big bucks, there are the American Buffalo Gold and the American Eagle Gold coins. These coins come from the United States Mint but you can also get them from other coin dealers at great prices. Also, they’re not as large but still shiny and fun gifts are the proof sets discussed earlier. Because special collectible coins like these are released every year, you could consider a yearly tradition; giving a child each new year’s coin in a specific series until they reach 18. That’s not uncommon.
- Regardless of the special occasion – birthday, Christmas, etc. – a coin minted during the year of the person’s birth is always a popular gift. Or, for a graduation gift, a coin minted the year of graduation. Coins by year are easy to find. Any website search engine will pull up listing that’ll give you ideas. Simply enter something like "2007 coin", "1996 American Silver Eagle", "proof set 1990", etc.
- Coin gifts based on a person’s coin collecting experience should be considered. A coin collector will be happy with nearly any coin gift. However, they can easily tell you what coins they really like or, if they show you one of their collections, you can see for yourself. Listening and watching a coin collector will often give you leads into giving them very special coin gifts they’ll really love. Many coin collectors, and there are millions out there, take great joy in receiving coins compared to anything else you could give them.
Using Gifts to Build a Child’s Desire to Collect Coins
Part of developing a child’s desire to collect coins is spending time talking about and showing them coins. Better yet, letting them help you sort through change, catalogs and bank rolls to find certain coins of interest – building collections with you. Then there’s the gifting front where they receive a coin by surprise and it makes it even more special. Here are a few thoughts about that:
- You can buy many coins in attractive coin holders that also help protect it. If you take a proof or valuable coin out of it’s protective holder and touch it, you’re likely going to greatly diminish its value. That’s something to point out to the person receiving your gift. (You may enjoy this article about a proof coin given as a gift getting opened and touched.) However, for very young children, coins you can touch and even place in your pocket are solid gifts with lasting impressions. You may want to consider giving two of the same coin for presents – one in a protective case and one by itself. Then explain, if it’s a child, the value of the coin in the case and why it should remain but at the same time let them feel and "experience" the other coin in their hands whenever they want.
- Coins don’t have to be expensive to make great gifts or start one down the coin collecting path. A series of circulated coins, like pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters, can be unique gifts. You can even buy special coin folders and albums for these coins and more. In a coin folder, like the one shown, coins snap into sockets for special display and storage. If you start one folder with already having a few coins and give it as a gift, a child can then complete the series with money they look for in daily change. It’s a great way for someone to learn the joys of coin collecting.
- As mentioned before, gifting coins for traditional occasions and frequently can help drive the desire to become a collector.
These are not hard rules to follow but thoughts to perhaps ponder when considering coins for gifts. If you’re ever wondering what to give someone, think about a coin gift!