Collecting First Year Issue Coins

Collecting First Year Issue Coins

Posted by Toby Adkins, Numismatic Scholar for on Nov 30th 2023

Regardless of age, most of us guys have probably had a baseball card collection at some point in our lives. Whether small or extensive we always hoped to have the fabled "rookie card" of our favorite baseball player. I cannot speak for you ladies, with a wife and two daughters, I'm still clueless as to what motivates you all! I digress... We were always hoping to make the "big trade" or to just get lucky and run down the rookie card for our collection. With that in mind, and moving to coins, do First Year of Issue coins really matter in our coin collecting? Let's dive in.

Collecting First Year of Issue Coins

Before we jump to the subject at hand, let's take a moment for clarification. Many people collect for different reasons so this may not apply to all of you, especially of you're a seasoned collector or a specialty collector. For the rest of us, this is a question I have heard countless times over the past two and a half decades. The 1878-S Morgan Silver Dollar pictured above is the perfect example of why most people ask this question: "Shouldn't I buy the First Year of Issue?" The totally political answer is: maybe! However, there are some good reasons to seek out First Year of Issue coins.

  • We are wired to seek them out. I believe this is the primary reason people collect First Year Issues. Through life we are trained that the first of anything is special. Back to our baseball cards and the rookie year, we have come to see the first as better. First edition books, first day covers for stamps, regardless of collectible genres, we have been taught to grab the first. Today in coins, some coins are even certified as First Day of Issue and certain third party graders will even holder coins with a First Year of Issue designation.
  • Demand. Most First Year of Issue coins often sell at a higher premium than their 2nd or 3rd year counterparts. Over the years, many people have contacted me for first year coins. Oddly enough, no one has ever said "Toby, I have to have the 8th year of issue coin as fast as possible!" Since First Year of Issue coins are always popular, they are also easier to sell to other collectors.
  • Popularity of the series. This is where the "maybe" definitely comes into play. Let's look to the extremely popular American Silver Eagles. Since they are the most collected coins out there, there will always be a market for the very first year 1986 coin. On the other hand, a far less collected coin, such as the Susan B. Anthony dollars, this is not the case. Of course, all of this breaks down on a lot of antique coins and especially very expensive series' of coins.
  • It's good for coin collecting. Coin collecting has grown immensely in the past 25 years and it's something that should be passed on. Those of us who collect want to pass on our passion to our children or grandchildren. Though we may have moved past the point of being excited over a 1999 Statehood Quarter in our change, new collectors will find it amazing! A grandchild holding that 1986 Silver Eagle or 1999 Delaware Quarter is going to find it to be more of a treasure since they have a "rookie" year coin. Even most adult collectors are still thrilled when they run down a First Year of issue coin.

So, should you collect First Year of Issue coins? In short, I think I have convinced myself, I'm officially changing my "maybe" to a definite YES! Happy collecting!