Giving coins as gifts on birthdays, graduations, Christmas and other special events has exploded in recent years. The 50 State Quarters© program started in 1999 helped promote coin collecting and coin giveaways. The new $1 Presidents program that started this year is likely to continue its momentum.
Many coin dealers and their websites feature “Gift Idea” products. With all the choices out there, what makes a good coin gift? When should you start? Can a gift of coins start someone down the coin collecting path? How much money should you spend? Let’s tackle these questions and more!
Give the Complete Coin Collection as a gift
I have heard and read about parents and grandparents who actually built coin collections with the sole purpose of later giving them to their children and grandchildren. Beyond the real joy of such a gift, coin collections have the potential to improve in value over time. They can be considered investments. An investment that the child, because of their affection for the donated coins, is less likely to sell them frivolously.
Some people build a coin collection for a child with the intention of them becoming a family heirloom. While others enjoy collecting coins so much that they hope by giving a complete collection to a child, it will encourage them to collect coins.
If you’re building or have built a collection for someone else, that’s a commendable job. You will pass on some exceptional history that will likely be well received and appreciated for years to come. If you are thinking of starting such a coin collection, here are some things you need to consider:
- If you do this for one child, it is very difficult not to do the same or something similar to other children. It can be a financial plan and commitment. As a young parent, do you buy two coins because you plan to have two children and you want them to receive the same amount for the sake of fairness? What if you end up having a third child? As a grandparent, it’s even harder – both in planning and committing to spending money.
- A coin collection to one child will not mean the same to another. Don’t get hurt if you later find out your gift coins have been sold.
- If you like coins and build your own collection, consider keeping them separate from any collection you plan to give away. Why? Read the next bullet point.
- If you’re delivering a collection you love to build, you may be going through a mental battle over when to part with it. And keeping it until you die probably won’t serve your purpose at the start of the original collection (unless you start it for yourself). If you wait too long, your descendants may be larger than they would like and may not be able to truly appreciate the collection as you have really expected and expected.
Give a unique coin as a gift
Coins given during holidays or other special events make great gifts and that’s why most people choose single coins as regular gifts instead of spending time to build an entire collection and give it to that special someone. Usually these gifts are for people who are still young and many times, if continued as a traditional and annual gift, they can help that special person build a hobby of collecting coins.
Even if they don’t choose coin collecting as a hobby, a gift of coins can be particularly unique and often appreciated over other gifts. At the very least, they will last a long time. They won’t “break”, grow faster, or simply go away, like most toys will eventually (if not in hours…). Coins are also more likely to stay the same and many times actually increase in value over the years.
When giving a coin or two as a gift, here are a few things to think about:
- A two- or three-year-old will not appreciate or understand a coin gift. Age is always a factor to consider for coins that appreciate. You will see that children as young as 5 years old can really love the coin, delighted and curious when receiving one. But it’s different for everyone.
- Like donating an entire collection, there are costs to consider. Many years back, my father started giving the US Mint Evidence Kit and US Department of Air Traffic each year to his grandchildren. Now with many grandchildren, the cost and effort of these gifts has increased significantly. This year, the price for a single set of proofs and mints will cost you almost $50 in your wallet. (A proof coin is specially minted with polished and dead planks and is hit multiple times to give it a brighter shine and great detail.)
- Consider using special coin pouches or other packaging to better tie coins for a special occasion. For example, if you are giving a coin as a birthday present, you will find many birthday coin holders very attractive. Not only do holders help protect the coins, they can actually make your gift that much more outstanding.
What kind of money makes a good gift?
There are many choices in coins that can make great gifts. Here are a few things worth considering:
- Younger children tend to really like large coins, shiny coins, or both. For these reasons, the American Eagle Silver Proof coin is extremely popular. Even the less expensive acyclic versions stand out. Of course, if you really have the big bucks, there are American Buffalo Gold and American Eagle Gold coins. These coins come from the United States Mint but you can also get them from other coin dealers for a good price. Also, they are not as big but still shiny and fun gifts are the proofs discussed earlier. Because special collectible coins like these are released every year, you can consider an annual tradition; give a child each New Year’s coin in a specific series until they turn 18. That is not strange.
- Regardless of the special occasion – birthday, Christmas, etc. – the coin minted in the year of the person’s birth is always a popular gift. Or, for a graduation gift, a graduation year printed coin. Yearly coins are easy to earn. Any website search engine will display listings that give you ideas. Just enter something like “2007 coin”, “1996 American Silver Eagle”, “1990 proof set”, etc.
- Coin gifts based on one’s experience of collecting coins should be considered. A coin collector will be happy with nearly any gift of coins. However, they can easily tell you which coins they really like, or if they show you one of their collections you can see for yourself. Listening to and observing a coin collector often gives you the opportunity to give them very special coin gifts that they will truly love. Many coin collectors, and there are millions out there, are more than happy to receive coins than anything else you can give them.
Use gifts to build children’s desire to collect coins
Part of developing a child’s desire to collect coins is spending time talking and showing them the coins. Better yet, let them help you sort through change, catalog and bankroll to find certain coins of interest – build a collection with you. Then there’s the gifting front, where they get a coin by surprise and that makes it even more special. Here are a few thoughts on that:
- You can buy many coins in attractive coin holders that also help protect it. If you take a valuable proof or coin out of its protective compartment and touch it, you may reduce its value. That’s something to point out to your gift recipient. (You might like this article about a proof coin that is given as a gift when opened and touched.) For young children, however, coins you can touch and even put in The bag is a sure gift with a lasting impression. You may want to consider giving two identical coins as a gift – one in the protective box and one in itself. Then explain, if it is children, the value of the coin in the box and why it should stay the same but at the same time let them feel and “experience” the other coin in their hands whenever they would like.
- Coins don’t have to be expensive to make great gifts or start one of the coin collecting paths. A variety of coins are in circulation, such as coins, nickels, dimes and precious ones, which can make unique gifts. You can even purchase special coin folders and albums for these coins and more. In a coin folder, as shown, coins are attached to sockets for special display and storage. If you start a folder with a few coins and give it as a gift, then a child can complete the chain with the amount they seek to change daily. It’s a great way for someone to learn the joys of coin collecting.
- As mentioned before, giving coins for traditional and regular occasions can help fuel the desire to become a collector.
These are not hard rules to follow but thoughts perhaps to ponder when considering coins as a gift. If you’re wondering what to give someone, think about a coin gift!
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