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People with short attention spans must love the age of the Internet. Individuals can flit from item to item with the click of a mouse and never really focus on anything.

That the Internet is important goes without saying. When events like 9/11 occur, where would we be without it?

But there are many things that require focus, concentration and a well thought out plan of execution. One of those things is coin collecting.

If you had told me that when I was 11, newly employed with a paper route and making buying and selling decisions related to my coin collection, I probably would have politely listened and then gone off to find my friends.

Lifetime plan? Are you kidding? I was having fun.

But coin collecting is a lifetime occupation whether I would recognize it or not. I had a plan. I was following it. I just didn’t know it was a plan. I was simply filling the holes in my Whitman albums.

When I needed a 1949-S Roosevelt, dime, I ordered it.

The matter of the empty hole for the 1940-D Washington quarter arose, so I ordered it. I decided to skip the 1932-D and 1932-S until I had more money and ended up picking up two of the most worn coins you ever did see at a coin show when I was older and more mobile.

How about the 1950-D nickel, and the 1938-D and 1938-S? I ordered them.

As I filled each album, I went on to the next denomination. Like almost everybody else, I started with cents and worked my way up the ladder, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to do nickels until I circled back and picked them up as the last of the modern series.

Coin collecting was truly a lifetime occupation. For  me, it literally turned into a professional occupation when I walked in the front door of Krause Publications for my job interview with Cliff Mishler in 1978.

But who thinks of coin collecting that way? Certainly too few of us. It is tough to do. It is easy to get distracted. Some collectors do manage to do it. I have been active long enough to see Young Numismatists become go-getter dealers. When I’d see the late Herb and Martha Schingoethe at paper money shows, I knew they were buying. They were pointed out to me. They had a plan. They wanted everything and had the means to acquire most of it. Now their collection has been broken up in a series of Smythe and SpinkSmythe auctions.

It is amazing what persistent effort can accomplish in this field.

While they were doing this, they wouldn’t let themselves be photographed and they wouldn’t ever give a quote for a news story no matter how many times I asked down through the years. It wasn’t a part of their plan.

Most collectors don’t have the means to buy everything. So focus. Pick what you are interested in and then do it. Don’t stop part way along. Don’t get discouraged by the recession. Stretch out your time frame when you need to. Remember, it is a lifetime plan. That’s enough time to do something well and the best part is only you know what that is and only you can do it.

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