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Starting small can lead to greater things

In June 2007 I was reading some forum posts about bartering and horsetrading, looking for deals on things that are worth more than you have to pay.

This sounded all well and good until I looked in my wallet and saw a measely $100, my life savings. I always managed to get by but I also managed to spend everything I made before next pay day.

So I posted a question of “What could I do with $100 to get started?” The answer I got was to start out sorting pennies (copper pennies were worth two times face value at the time) and when I could to search half dollars for silver.

I started out with a box of pennies pulling the copper ones and a few wheaties, then another and another until I made the bank mad. Finally, pay day was nearing and I ordered a box of half dollars. I remember the first silver coin I got from that box was a ‘64 Kennedy; from then on I was hooked and have never looked back.

I became more frugal with my hunting money and every pay day I added to it. Soon I had developed a system where I was searching several boxes a day.

So you see I started out collecting metal; I called it hobo investing. But as I went along I would find coins that looked too good to me to run them through the system again, like the first clad proofs I found (45 in one box). Wasn’t long before I had a Dansco Kennedy album with proofs. It was fun upgrading coins from time to time with nicer specimens. Next came my Dansco Franklin album and every time I found one I would look and see if it was nicer than the one in my book. I also got the Walking Liberty album to see how far I could get in it from coin roll hunting.

Now I have a couple of cheaper dime albums and a Washingtom quarter set to work on. I am still a metal man but a few months ago I joined two coin clubs here. I still feel like an outsider at the meetings, but I am warming up. They are a nice enough bunch and I enjoy the stories about coin roll hunting “when you could actually find something.”

So how are my albums coming along?

The Kennedy book isn’t much fun these days, the only empty holes to fill are about half of the modern silver proofs (I did fill one of those a few months ago though).

The Franklin has been upgraded to the point of perfection aside for maybe the ‘48-’49 specimens. Only one empty hole left, the dreaded ‘55, but mine is coming. I even bought another cheap Franklin album because my upgrades were too nice to just go into tubes.

The Walking Liberty album I have no dillusions about filling from coin roll hunting, but I have already surpassed expectations and on rare occasions I get to fill a hole. Eventually I will have to trade for or buy the earlier coins, but for now I am playing the game.

I mainly concentrate on half dollars , but my Roosevelt book is only lacking three. My Mercury book is like my Walking Liberty book, just for grins. The Washington quarters I just started a couple weeks ago so I have a long way to go.

 In closing I must add that it is not as easy as it seems, but if you want to try it there are rules.  Let common sense prevail but the most important one is “NEVER take the coins back to where you bought them from!”

Well that is my story and I’m sticking to it.

More Resources:

2010 U.S. Coin Digest, The Complete Guide to Current Market Values, 8th ed.

State Quarters Deluxe Folder By Warmans

Standard Guide to Small-Size U.S. Paper Money, 1928 to Date

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition

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