All-Time Famous Coin Collectors!

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Written By Natasha Jones
I'm Natasha Jones, an avid collector of coins, stamps, and paper money. My passion drives me to seek unique finds, from antique shops to international exchanges. I enjoy connecting with fellow collectors through forums and meet-ups, sharing discoveries and insights. Collecting, for me, is about preserving history and building a community around this shared interest.

Coins have been collected since the Roman Empire—and probably before that. Many people are surprised to learn that a hobby like a coin collecting could be so old, but it shouldn’t be.

After all, coins were one of the first forms of money. It has been around for thousands of years in one form or another.

So it’s only natural that we’re interested in them!

These days, coin collecting remains one of the most popular hobbies among adults and children alike—not just in America but worldwide.

Coins are inexpensive collectibles and can be acquired from many different sources, making them excellent for anyone interested in numismatics (the study of currency). 

Who is the Most Famous Coin Collector?

famous coin collector

There is no doubt the first coin collectors were rulers themselves. They wanted to show their power and wealth by issuing coins that featured their image.

So kings and emperors had their coins made, assuming that future generations would preserve them as ancient artifacts.

One of the first private collectors was Pheidon, a king of Argos and namesake of the earliest coin hoard. King Pheidon minted Greek staters in the early 6th century BCE, and his tomb was found to contain more than 5,000 staters!

Coin collecting was a hobby for kings until modern times when everybody could afford to collect them.

Some famous U.S. presidents who collected coins were Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Theodore Roosevelt. All three presidents collected coins from worldwide during their travels once becoming President or after leaving office, or both!

Other famous American Presidents who collected coins were John Quincy Adams and James Garfield.

John Quincy Adams had a collection of over 2 million specimens, primarily foreign coins such as Spanish pieces-of-eight from China and some American half cents dating back to 1794!

He also purchased thousands upon thousands more from European dealers before he died in office while still serving as President (1829).

Theodore Roosevelt loved collecting anything; he even owned an island full of animals that he used as his zoo! His collection contained over 10 thousand pieces, including rarer specimens like “Hobo nickels” (American currency), British Guineas made between 1601-1700 AD, which bear Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait on them​.

Who Were the Earliest Coin Collectors?

In the early days of collecting, showing coins to other people was considered gauche. But some big names still indulged in some numismatics back in the day.

Emperor Caesar Augustus of Rome was known to boast about his collection and was said to have over a thousand coins from Sicily and other territories he conquered. 

During his time as secretary of state for foreign affairs around 1350, Petrarch recognized that some of the medieval coins he found might be ancient Roman ones. After sharing them with friends and receiving enough encouragement, he started to collect them seriously. After his death, his collection would eventually be donated to a monastery in Vaucluse, France. 

In 1493 Emperor Maximilian I was seen by an Italian named Antonio de Beats developing quite an interest in antiquity during a trip through northern Italy. Several years later, De Beatis wrote, “They wanted all kinds of antiquities: inscriptions on stones or bronze tablets… They also liked medals very much because they showed portraits of emperors and princes.” 

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Bust of Ceasar Augustus

Some historians think Pope Boniface VIII of the Roman Empire also had a collection. Other early collectors include Ferdinand I (Holy Roman Emperor) starting around 1525, Louis XIV of France around 1660, Henry IV of France around 1600, and elector Joachim II of Brandenburg starting around 1520.

Who Are Famous Private Coin Collectors

Here are some of the well-known private coin collectors from the United States and their contributions to numismatics:

Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.

Considered the only person to assemble a complete collection of U.S. coins. This feat took him over half a century (from 1920 until he died in 1976), and he accomplished it even without owning one 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle ($20) coin!

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John Work Garrett

The first to assemble a complete collection of U.S. gold coins. He also established a comprehensive library on numismatics in his house at Evergreen estate in Maryland, which is now part of Johns Hopkins University, since 1942, after his death at age 78.

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Who Are The Famous U.S. Presidents Who Collected Coins

The United States Of America is a nation of coin collectors, in which even the Presidents are fond of collecting coins. In the list below are all the American Presidents who have been known to collect coins.

Thomas Jefferson

The 3rd President was an avid collector and a knowledgeable numismatist. He was responsible for designing the first coined nickel and silver dollar used in America as legal tender by Congress in 1792.

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John Quincy Adams

The 6th President, Was also an avid collector and knew about coins since his days as a child when he had helped his father amass an extensive collection of ancient Roman coins.

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Theodore Roosevelt

The 26th President. He collected many things, including rare books, paintings, and fossils, but what made him famous was his collection of gold coins from different foreign nations that were used up to 1873 at their face value on U.S soil as per the mint act 1849, signed by Zachary Taylor.

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Famous Icons Who Collect Coins

There is a long list of famous actors and entertainers who are coin collectors. The most notable names include actresses Joan Crawford and Kate Hudson, actor Matthew McConaughey, award-winning actor James Earl Jones, actress Nicole Kidman, comedian/actor Jack Black, producer Penny Marshall, and screenwriters John Larroquette and Buddy Ebsen.

  • Joan Crawford is known for her love of collecting coins. She once said she would use the coins to buy her mother a house.
  • Kate Hudson loves collecting coins so much that she even admitted she’ll pay more than they cost to get the ones she wants. 
  • Matthew McConaughey was also into coin collecting. His preference was American eagles and Morgan dollars – two of the most popular types of silver dollars minted between 1878-1904 and 1921-1935, respectively.
  • James Earl Jones also loved coin collecting since he saw it as an investment opportunity that could benefit his family financially in the future as well as a way to teach his kids about history. And given how valuable some old coins can be today, who knows, he might be on to something here.
  • Nicole Kidman has been known for loving Roman and Greek coins. 
  • Jack Black prefers 20th-century U.S. silver dollars instead – though he does not collect them for financial purposes but because he likes shiny objects more than anything else – a very valid reason!
  • Hoagy Carmichael is one of the stars who has been popular during the 1940s and 1950s. He has been known as an American singer, actor, songwriter, and bandleader. However, Carmichael did not only become famous in these but also as a famous collector of ancient coins. His love for collecting old coins started when he was still young, with him collecting them with his father’s assistance. 
  • Paul McCartney is another star who is known worldwide not only in terms of being part of The Beatles but also for having several records sold under his name is Paul McCartney. Like Hoagy, Paul McCartney had always been into coin collecting, even at a very young age! This interest has remained, including his wife, Nancy Shevell, who shared this hobby with her husband and their son Arthur Alistair Donald.
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the former basketball player of the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, is best known for his skyhook shot. He was the recipient of six NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, five championships with the Lakers in 1980 and 1982–1985, one championship title with the Bucks in 1971, 19 all-star appearances, 15 All-NBA selections (including ten First Team selections), eleven NBA All-Defensive Team honors (including five First Team selections), and two NBA Rookie of the Year awards.
  • Jerry Buss is the former owner of many sports teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers.
  • Wayne Gretzky was a professional hockey player that played for twenty seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for four teams from 1979 to 1999—nicknamed “the great one,” he was widely regarded as one of the greatest players in NHL history. Today he is part-owner and vice-chairman of Oilers Entertainment Group, which manages operations of Rogers Place arena in Edmonton.
  • Andre Dawson has been nicknamed “The Hawk” because his powerful swing reminded people of another baseball great by a similar name, Hank Aaron, known as “The Hammer.” He played 21 seasons between 1976 and 1996 for four major league baseball teams, earning eight Gold Glove Awards with 438 home runs!

Before you go…

It’s no surprise that many famous coin collectors have been interested in coin collecting, past and present. For some celebrities, it’s a hobby they pursue with all the passion of any other favorite activity, like playing golf or going fishing. For others, it’s an investment strategy that could pay off. Whatever their motivation, they’ve shown us that collecting coins is something anyone can do—even famous people–and if you’re interested in collecting coins yourself, there are plenty of resources to help you get started.

Check out my next article: “10 Types Of Coin Collectors – Which One Are You?

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