This article gives out information on some of the themes that one can start collecting. As an amateur hobbyist it’s a good idea to begin with simple themes and then progress to more advanced stuff. Some of the basic set are relative easy to collect and give out a good history while at the same time do not burn a hole in the pocket. The lists are ordered in terms of how much time, money and effort it would require to collect the sets.
Basic Collection Set of Republic India [Level: Beginners]
In this set one can start the collection as a set of all standard coins of Republic India that are major changes in design
The coins can be on Indian Decimal System from 1957, all these coins except for the Rs 5 “Unity In Diversity” of 2007 can be easily collected for less than Rs 2000/- for the entire set. This set would serve a good snap shot of the history of Indian coins and the transition that they went through. As of 2010 the set should be 48 Coins of Decimal system and 7 of Pre Decimal System.
Circulation Commemorative Set of Republic India – Basic set [Level: Beginners]
This set would consist of all the commemorative set of republic India in circulation. It’s to be noted that the first coin in this was issued from 1964. It’s also to be noted that the coins are issued as Proof sets are not always issued as circulation commemoratives. There are quite a few exceptions.
The set would cost around 20,000 to 25,000 if one were to begin collecting today. Apart from a handful of coins [less than 10] most of the coins can be obtained for a range of Rs 20 to Rs 150.
The set of 2013 should be 135 Coins
Circulation Commemorative Set of Republic India – Advanced set
This set would consist of all the commemorative set of republic India in circulation as in the basic set. The only difference being that one needs to collect the set mint wise. It’s to be noted that not all the coins are available by all mints. Refer to the Circulation Commemorative set to get details of the list of coins by mints. This would be quite a formidable task as mostly the circulations of coins if issued from multiple mints are restricted to the local areas. For example if a coin is available from both Mumbai and Kolkata mint, then in the Mumbai region one would get mostly Mumbai mint coins; like wise for Kolkata. Unless you are an ardent traveler, it becomes a formidable cost as the coins from Kolkata mint would be way to expensive in Mumbai and vice versa. The cost would be similar to Basic set however the time and efforts would be more.
The set as of 2013 should have 325 Coins
Year wise Standard Coins of Republic India – Basic set [Level: Beginners]
This set would consist of all the Standard coins of republic India in circulation. Although it may cost substantially less than the Commemorative set, more so if one already has coins; however it’s a very time consuming activity as one would need to keep at it for a year or two to complete the set. Cataloguing and indexing what you have it also a time consuming activity. As of 2013 this set would be of 349 Coins of Decimal System and 26 Coins of Pre Decimal System
Year wise Standard Coins of Republic India – Advanced set [Level: Intermediate]
This set would consist of all the Standard coins of republic India in circulation as in the Basic set. The key difference is one is collecting for all the Mints. It’s a hugely time consuming activity as some of the regular coins are not available in the market. One has to find multiple sources to complete the set. As of 2013 the set should have around 951 Coins
Proof Sets of Commemorative Coins [Level: Intermediate]
This set would consist of all the Commemorative Coins issued as proof sets. Its relative easy in terms of efforts and cataloguing the collection; however it’s a huge drain on pocket. If one is beginning the collection today, even the recent sets, i.e. set of year 1990 to 2003 would cost anywhere between Rs 10,000/- to Rs 20,000/-. There are some rare sets with prices going way above the roof. The best way going forward is to keep a tab on the issues and buy directly from mints. Even here each set would cost around Rs 2500 to Rs 4,000/- even directly from mint. There should be approx 87 main themes in this collection as of 2013.
UNC Sets of Commemorative Coins [Level: Intermediate]
This set would be similar to Proof Sets, except its Uncirculated Coins sets, the finish is of lesser grade than the Proof set. The cost of the UNC is less than that of the proof set. There should be around 87 main themes in this collection.
Mint wise Collection Coins [Level: Beginners]
As indicated if a coin is issued from multiple mints it poses a challenge for collecting at reasonable effort and one of the themes is to stick to coins of a particular mint. The most popular are Mumbai and Kolkata mints as most of the coins are from these mints. The advantage is that it becomes a complete set and is relatively less expensive and easier to collect. This theme is mostly used for the Proof set and UNC, as for regular commemorative it’s not that expensive.
The Master Set [Level: Advanced]
As the name indicates it would be collecting every thing from Standard Coins, Year and Mint wise to Commemoratives in Circulation, Proof Sets and UNC Mint wise. As it is evident this would be for the most serious of the collectors and would require huge time, efforts and deep pockets.
Date Range Series [Level: Beginners]
As the number of year’s progress and the number of coins to collect increase, one can also stick to a date range for the collection. For India the suggested date is Republic India till 2000 or for a new collector one can start a theme of Republic India post year 2000.
Collect Coins of particular type [Level: Intermediate]
This theme in itself would mean to pick a theme, say from example all coins that are issued to mark the anniversary of people. Such themes are not very popular in India. The themes are done more on a wider scale to collect such coins world wide.
Collect Coins of particular Denomination [Level: Intermediate]
This theme is essentially to restrict and collect a particular type of coin; this itself can be a bit broad like all small coins [Coins or Less than Rupee] or all Rupee Coins [Rupee and Above]. Or it can also be restricted to a single coin type. There are quite a few collectors who do only Rs 1/- or Rs 2/- or more recently Rs 5/-
Die Variations [Level: Advanced]
Quite a few coins come die variations. Some of the die variations are documented, and quite a few are not documented. It requires quite a bit of time and effort to create a collection of all die variations.
Error Coins [Level: Advanced]
This theme is essentially to collect all types of error coins. This takes quite a huge amount of effort. Lot of times one does not know the various types of error coins available or whether they are real. One should get into this only after one has mastered reading and understanding the coins. The key challenge here is one can never be sure if his list is complete or not as there is no agreed list of the error coins.
There are multiple sub-themes that can be followed in the error coins. Each of them is quite difficult and is only for the die hard coin collector.
Basic Error Coin Set:
In this one would collect a one each of different types of errors [i.e. off strike, double strike, die rotation etc] all in single denomination.
If one is fanatic and has enough resources, one can try and complete the same set in every denomination and metal.
Die Rotation – Clock Theme:
In a die rotation type of error, the Reverse is at an offset degree to the Obverse. In a clock theme, one would collect the Die Rotations as per the clock, i.e. in 30, 60, and 90 and so on making the rotations like a clock. Ideally in same denomination, metal and design.
Off Centre – Moon phases:
In an Off Strike error, only a partial image of the coin is pressed and other half is Blank. A theme to follow is to collect off Center as per the phases of moon, i.e. beginning with small off strike to almost full off strike and the reverse.