The Young Collector

A Guide to Your First YN Auction

Published April 10, 2024 | 7 min read

By Kelly Barker

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If you’re a young numismatist (YN), you’ve probably heard whispers about the YN Auction. Held in the fall, this annual event provides YNs with an opportunity to participate in an auction and expand their collections. The sale is conducted online through a live YouTube stream, and participants submit their bids via live chat. Simply put, the YN Auction is really fun. The thrill of bidding on real items without the pressure of using real money, coupled with the joy of interacting with your peers, makes this event a young-collector favorite. With many months to prepare, get a head start on this year’s auction using these tips.

Earn YN Dollars

To bid in the YN Auction, you need YN Dollars. YNs earn these by completing various numismatic activities that encourage exploration, learning, and engagement. The best part about earning YN Dollars is that many of the qualifying activities are things that Young Numismatists already do. For example, attending a local coin show, completing a National Coin Week project, and attending a local ANA member coin club meeting are all qualifying activities. Once you complete a qualifying activity, all you have to do is fill out the YN Dollar request form. Once it’s approved, the YN Dollars will be mailed to you.

It’s important to note that not all qualifying activities are worth the same amount. The amount you can earn per activity ranges from YN$5-$300. While it can be tempting to only tackle high-earning activities, don’t write off the others just because they appear to be worth less. An activity that’s worth $5 can be just as fulfilling, educational, and enjoyable as one that’s worth $300. Complete activities that interest you, explore new aspects of the hobby, and most of all, have fun!

Read the Catalog

Every year, the ANA releases a highly anticipated catalog containing all the lots in the YN Auction. Each lot is named, numbered, photographed, described, given an opening bid, and if applicable, graded. The auction usually has about 100 lots, most of which are coins. You’ll find several coins with various dates, denominations, grades, compositions, and countries of origin—everything from ancient Roman coins to modern U.S. commemoratives. 

But it’s not all about coins—paper currency and exonumia are also commonly featured.

Make note of lots that interest you. It can be helpful to print out the catalog and circle the lots that you plan to bid on. Also, keep an eye out for the highly coveted gold coin that the ANA sells every year.

MONTHLY AUCTIONS: Don’t want to wait until September? The ANA hosts monthly auctions of a few items held between the 1st and 15th of each month. And if you’re looking to spend some real money, I suggest you visit the ANA’s Money Museum Store on the third week of each month to bid on items from the Money Museum, all of which are duplicates already well represented in the ANA’s permanent collection. Don’t miss out on the chance to own these unique treasures!

Budget Your Money

After deciding which lots you want to bid on, you should budget your YN Dollars. It can be easy to get caught up in the bidding and spend more than you wanted on a particular lot. To avoid this, make a list of the lots that you will be bidding on, and rank them in order of preference. Next, count your YN Dollars and decide how much you will spend. This isn’t an exact science, but the listed opening bid provides a good estimate of how expensive an item will be relative to other items. It’s not uncommon for some fan-favorite lots to go for hundreds of dollars more than the opening bid, so be ready to reevaluate your budget during the auction. 

Auctions are unpredictable—you will likely spend more than you anticipated on some lots and much less than you planned on others. Your budget shouldn’t be set in stone. It’s just a guideline that allows you to bid on your favorite lots. But always keep track of how much money you have left so you don’t overspend.   

In the past, some lots have gone for thousands of YN Dollars, especially gold coins. Remember that some of these bidders have been working and saving their money for years. If it’s your first YN Auction, it’s not uncommon to have fewer dollars than more seasoned bidders. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying the auction and bidding on lots. I entered my first YN Auction with just 20 YN Dollars to my name, and I managed to pick up two coins that are still in my collection. So remember, be spontaneous! 

The ANA has designed the YN Auction to simulate a more grown-up auction experience.

Auction Etiquette

When you participate in the YN Auction, you will be treated like an adult. The ANA has designed the YN Auction to simulate a more grown-up auction experience. So, while it is meant to be enjoyable, it is also meant to be educational, and you should be prepared to accept certain responsibilities as a participant. When you are the highest bidder, you have bought that lot and will be expected to send the correct amount of YN Dollars to the ANA. You will be held accountable for your bids and should never bid more money than you have. Familiarize yourself with the auction rules, which can be found in the auction catalog. 

Having said that, the ANA and the auctioneer understand that the participants in the auction are young and still learning. If you make an accidental bid or another mistake, you can explain yourself in the chat, and the auctioneer will understand. 

Everyone is expected to be respectful and professional when interacting with other participants. Don’t take being outbid personally or try to make deals with other bidders. There’s nothing wrong with chatting with your fellow YNs during the auction, especially during breaks, but keep the chat clear of side conversations when the bidding is active. Similarly, ensure that anything you say in the chat is appropriate, as it will be visible to all participants and the auctioneer. This is a great opportunity to interact with other young collectors, and there is often a sense of camaraderie among the YNs. Make new friends, talk shop, enter bids, and congratulate each other. 


The annual YN Auction is truly something you do not want to miss. Keep an eye out for announcements about dates and registration in your email. The ANA will make this auction as user-friendly as possible and send you all the necessary information. I encourage you to learn why so many YNs love this event. This is your chance to add some treasures to your collection while experiencing the excitement of a real auction. Take it from me—I participated in the first YN Auction ever held and every year I was eligible after that. And I didn’t just make bids; I made memories that I will always cherish. Now, it’s your turn. Sign up for the annual YN Auction to have the experience of a lifetime.