Collecting can be a gamble because the value of an item can fluctuate dramatically. Ask any Beanie Babies collector.
But when it comes to coin collecting, the risks change. No matter how collecting trends change, there's always going to be money in money. Coins will be either worth their minimum face value or have the value of precious metals.
"A coin collection will never be worthless," says Richard Hunter, chairman of the 47th Annual Coin Show, which is this weekend at the Las Palmas Masonic Center in Fresno.
Members of the Fresno Numismatic Society say coin collecting should be fun.
At the coin show, coins ranging in price from a few cents to several hundreds of dollars will be on display. Twenty-one experts will buy, sell, trade and appraise U.S. and foreign coins and currency, ancient coinage, tokens and medals. Admission includes a commemorative wooden nickel. Gold and silver coins will be raffled at the close of the show.
A big part of the coin show is dedicated to educating the public. That ranges from a company that specializes in grading the quality of coins — the higher the grade, the higher the worth — to displays by members of the local club to explain the history of coins and collecting.
"A lot of people collect everything and they don't have a knowledge of what to collect. They overpay and end up with undesirable things. Through education, you learn what would compliment your collection. Instead of a box full of junk, you have a book full of rarities and very collectible coins," says Ken Richert, Coin Club president.
As an example of how collecting the right coins can be profitable, Richert points out that in 1938 a Buick could be purchased for 20 $20 gold pieces. You can today buy a comparable Buick for the same 20 $20 gold pieces.
All of this might sound like it takes bags of money, but it doesn't take a mint to start a coin collection. There are books to hold pennies that include spots for coins that are likely in everyone's pocket change. Hunter points out a lot of people are coin collectors and probably don't realize it.
"They collected all of the state quarters and have them in some kind of book," Hunter says. "Collecting coins can be as affordable as you want it to be."
Both Richert and Hunter started collecting when they were young.
Richert first started collecting cents and nickels. He took a break from the numismatic world for a while but returned when he was in his 40s. That's when his collection took off. Now he has coins worth thousands of dollars.
If you can't attend the show but would like to check out the club, the group meets the second Tuesday of each month. Go to fresnocoinclub.com for more information.
Both men would love to see individuals — or whole families — find an interest in coin collecting. But, if you are more concerned with selling coins, this is a prime show to attend.
"Any of the dealers will tell you what your coins are worth," Richert says. "Because there are so many dealers, you will be able to get several opinions. It's always best to get at least three opinions."
47th Annual Coin Show, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26-27, at The Las Palmas Masonic Center, 2992 E. Clinton Ave. Admission: $2.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter.