How does one begin to learn about coins and coin collecting? In this Instant Information Age, shouldn't it be simple and done in five steps or less? In one evening, my brother-in-law found out how, with a single call to a 900 number, to make millions in the stock market. Can I learn all I need to know about coins in an hour?
Pardon me for teasing. As with any specialized field, the problem often can be sorting through the mass of available information to find what's really valuable. This is how I would begin.
Go to the Dictionary section of this site. Mr. Brian Cornwell has provided us with one of the finest Glossaries of Numismatic Terms I have ever encountered. It is exceptional work. What I find so outstanding about his accomplishment is that the definitions and explanations he provides are offered in simple terms someone who knows nothing about coin collecting can understand. In other words, he doesn't use one word you don't know to explain another word you don't understand. I wish I could say the same for the guy who wrote the $49.95 computer manual I can't begin to comprehend!
I would strongly suggest you download Mr. Cornwell's reference to your printer. You can't buy a better entry level book!
As you read through this dictionary mark entries that seem especially interesting or important. Mr. Cornwall has done a comprehensive job so some of the listings provide important general information while others apply to specialized areas. You be the judge and have fun with the research.
As with reading any specialized text, don't turn your mind to mush by trying to absorb too much at once. A wise plan might be to read 3 or 4 pages from the book each evening. You will find many important cross-references in the Mr. Cornwell's dictionary. This is why it's important to have a printed copy to work with.
As you read, also mark references of particular interest. For example, Sou Tokens seems like a curious topic. Now here is the really neat part. Back at my computer, I go to the CCRS Discussion Page, hit search, type in Sou Tokens and bingo I find all sorts of information and discussions about this topic.
I'm not suggesting these simple steps will make you an expert on Sou Tokens, but I can promise that by using the Dictionary and Discussion page you will know more about them than you did twenty minutes ago.
You can then add to the fun and your learning experience by becoming the kid in the candy store and visiting the dealer sites offered on CCRS. Keep your dictionary handy as you browse through all the great coins. Spend some time reading the commentary and other information the dealers offer to customers.
I've given you some easy steps to follow. You must supply the motivation and effort. I've been a collector and then a dealer for well over forty years and there is much I can learn from reading Mr. Cornwell's dictionary, visiting the CCRS Discussion Page, and reviewing the dealer offerings. As little as 15 minutes a day spent working with the resources I've mentioned will, in time, provide a basic understanding of our wonderful hobby. I hope such a commitment doesn't seem overwhelming. I can't make learning about coins any easier or less expensive.