When I was a paperboy, I collected money from a lot of different households. Some people I never saw. They left funds for me in the mailbox.
Other people would pay me and as they were doing so we would exchange a few words of greeting.
One old-timer decided it was a good idea to teach me to count to 10 in Welsh. I did it, but it has not stuck with me.
What I remember most about him, though, was one week he paid me and among the coins was a 1958 Washington quarter struck in Philadelphia.
That was the last coin I needed to fill up my album of quarters that began with the 1946 date.
Another customer that I had was an older woman who taught piano. I knew that because I was one of her students for a time. I hated every minute of it and I quit as soon as I could convince my mother it was a hopeless cause.
She was disappointed that I had not stuck around long, but as a newspaper customer, we were on friendly terms.
One day she wanted to do me a good turn and she paid me with a Morgan silver dollar. I could see it was fairly worn, but it was still exciting.
I was a coin collector. She knew it. She knew she was doing me a favor. So I gave her change and walked away with my prize.
I was so distracted by the coin I could not stop looking at it as I walked to my bicycle as it stood in the driveway.
What exactly happened I cannot say but somehow as I looked at the coin and moved along I managed to lose my grip and the coin fell to the concrete leaving a nice ding in the edge, extending a bit to the obverse rim.
Though no one was there to see the coin drop, I was embarrassed. I was a collector. I knew that wasn’t how you should handle coins.
I knew that the coin did not have a high collector value. It basically had none at the time, but I knew the fresh ding I had just put in it would forever scar the piece.
I still have the coin. I don’t remember the date. I haven’t looked at it in many years. It still has the ding in it. The memory of my dropping it is still sharp and is probably why I don’t look at it. But it is also why it taught me a valuable lesson.
From then on I never put myself in a situation where there was ever any possibility of dropping a collectible coin and putting a ding in it.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”