Makes Collecting What It Is
By David C. Harper
Is there only
one way to correctly collect coins?
I ask the question again because I had an e-mail
that got me to thinking along these lines. We
are going through a period of explosive growth
in the numismatic field. Newcomers are doing
what they want to do and are bumping into the
Most veterans are a good-natured bunch who want
to share what they know and help newbies avoid
the traps that they themselves fell into years
On the whole, their advice to newcomers is
sound, especially if the newcomers' ultimate
goal is to put together nice sets with their
names on the coins' pedigrees and auction them
off with a big-name firm in the distant future.
But what of those people who don't or won't do
that for whatever reason?
I received an e-mail from a concerned
grandfather. The place he was getting
gold-colored state quarters no longer provided
them and he wondered what to do.
Now traditional hobby advice would be to tell
him that gold-plated quarters are a novelty and
a waste of money if you want to get some kind of
return on the time and money invested.
Traditional advice is true, but I am not going
to respond with that information. Why spoil the
fun the grandfather was having spoiling his
grandkids with pretty gold-colored quarters?
The simple fact that the grandchildren are being
exposed to coins in any form might inspire one
or more of them to take up the hobby in later
I had an e-mail this week from my friend Ray
Dillard. He makes elongated coins and often
appears at conventions to make souvenirs. He
noted that elongateds are often found in the
holdings of old-time collectors even though he
apparently noticed a few people talking them
What's the point of disparaging elongateds? They
are fun. They remind me of the shows I have
attended. I am sure they do the same for others.
We had an ad in late April offering Presidential
dollars in ballistic rolls and several readers
went ballistic. How can we do that, they asked?
I did the math, and if my figures are correct,
if you bought the four 2007 designs for $496,
you received 255 coins (the first 2008 roll was
free as a part of the deal, plus one free
additional coin per roll to handle). That works
out to $1.945 per coin. Had we run an ad
offering 2007 Presidential dollars for $1.95
each plus shipping, it probably would have
garnered little notice and not attracted many
Veteran coin collectors have the best of
intentions, but one of the reasons I became a
coin collector is I could do anything I wanted
that appealed to me. I made mistakes. I bought
some silly things along the way, but I was doing
what I wanted to do - I wasn't doing something
that was good for me (at least I didn't realize
that I was).
Trying to take the spontaneity out of collecting
is a surefire way to kill it.
When I was a kid, if someone would have told me
to change what I was doing for my own good, I am
sure I would have responded to it as all kids
tend to do.
You know what that answer is.