One of the most frequently asked questions by beginners in the numismatic hobby is, "Where should I start?" It's a great question to ask because you will get an infinite number of answers. Some may say Wheat Cents, others may say State Quarters or even Presidential Dollars. To answer this question well, you need to ask yourself a couple of essential questions.
The first essential question is, "What coins do I like the best?" The best way to know what you like is to know what is available. There are two major groups of coins that people collect. First, there are American coins and second, there are international or foreign coins. The demand for American coins is much larger in America than the demand for foreign coins. Most Americans collecting begin with American coins, because that’s what we see the most.
What’s the best way to discover what American coins are available for collecting? Probably the most popular book that fulfills that purpose is the book, "A Guide Book of United States Coins", also known as "The Red Book". This book has every date, denomination, variety, and grade of coins that have ever been issued by the United States Mint and more. The book also has photos of a large percentage of these coins. You'll want to invest hours just looking at the coins in this book. If your budget is extremely tight you may want to check this book out from the ANA library or possibly your local public library.
If you're most interested in international coins the book, "Official Blackbook Price Guide to World Coins" is for you. World coins are different from American coins in color, designs, shapes, denominations, and composition. If you’re on a tight budget this is can be a good to start. Most coin shops have a "junk box" of international coins where you can get a wide variety of coins for just a few dollars.
The second essential question is, "What is my current budget?" Knowing what your current budget is and where to find the coins you want at the best price will help you get the most for your budget. Coins can be purchased at local coin shops, local coin clubs, local coin shows, local collectors, online auctions, and online dealers. Be sure to compare pricing with at least two or three of these sources. "A Guide Book of United States Coins" and the "Official Blackbook Price Guide to World Coins" include pricing recommendations for each coin and grade. The most important part of coin collecting or numismatics is to enjoy yourself and the coins you collect!