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Collectors should follow their heart

If you are worried about getting out, should you even get into numismatics?

That issue is raised in a recent email to me.

I am glad I began collecting in a simpler time, or perhaps I was just too dumb to see all the possible complications.

Coins got my attention when I was a kid. I was attracted to them. I loved to look at them. I wanted to collect them. So I did.

Here I am over a half century later.

With that kind of experience, how do I respond to the questions in the following email?

“A lot of your senior columnists seem to be consistently talking about doom and gloom when it comes to precious metals, but not addressing the real elephant in the room. What happens to the rare coin market when the Baby Boomers and older generations pass?

“I turned 36 on D-Day (June 6) and I’m almost always the youngest person in the room at coin shows other than the children or grandchildren that always seem to be messing with their phones behind the tables.

“I’m on the fence. I’ve put a lot of time into a respectable Barber quarter, Barber half and Standing Liberty quarter collection, mid-grade without too many problems, no keys though. Should I get (out) while the getting is good or play the long game?”

The writer of this email is obviously intelligent. He has been bitten by the collecting bug and has acted on it. He seems to enjoy it.

But now he is talking about possibly giving it up.

Such a possibility strikes me in an emotional way. I like coins. I want to collect them. That continues to be my motivation.

I think the writer's main question needs to be answered, but this is all about him and not all about me.

Most collectors never stop collecting until some external factor makes them.

If a collector loses a job, stopping collecting for a time is logical.

If the children need new clothes and there is no other money, stopping collecting is logical.

If a spouse objects to using funds for coins when other needs must be met, stopping collecting makes sense.

If a collector has lost interest, stopping collecting makes sense.

If a collector has had a long experience of numismatics and estate planning is now on his or her mind, it could be time to stop or scale back collecting to keep hobby holdings from becoming a burden to heirs.

There are many good personal reasons to stop collecting either temporarily or permanently, but I don't think any of them are rooted in a general fear of the future.

At the age of 36 with 40 or 50 years of potential collecting ahead, it strikes me that a collector who loves to collect coins should keep on collecting them.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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