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Don't be distracted from collecting

It is often said that in the Internet Age we Americans are being overwhelmed with information.

That seems true.

I expect most collectors would agree with me, especially after they look in their email inbox each morning and check the markets.

But in experiencing the avalanche of information, we sometimes get buried in what is not essential to our purpose and forget about what is important.

What is important is that we collectors collect and do so year in and year out on a regular basis.

But because of the day-to-day, even second-to-second, distraction of the Internet, we can tie ourselves in knots wondering what we should be doing in light of the stock market’s latest fluctuation, the bullion market’s jiggles and even the presidential election polls.

But the truth is, if I do not buy something because the stock market is down today, I am not likely ever to make that purchase.

If that happens often enough, am I really a collector?

Do you remember passing on a numismatic transaction because of a down stock market and then going back and making the buy when your stock market concern had passed?

I don’t.

Every collector has passed on making a transaction, but it is usually because a dealer asked more money for something than the collector was willing to pay. That is driven by numismatic and personal conditions not the state of the stock market.

If you are not likely to buy coins when the stock market is down, the odds are you might jump in with both feet to buy when your stock portfolio is up.

Having a big bankroll can lead you to pay more than you otherwise would. That is also a problem.

You won’t be happy with yourself when you figure out what you were doing. That realization is also corrosive of the pure hobby impulse.

Collectors have always had the streak of bullion speculation in them all the way back to 1967 when silver prices were freed from government price controls.

If kept within bounds bullion speculation is harmless, entertaining and it can be profitable.

But again, if you cease your collecting in down markets and resume them in up markets, your sense of hobby satisfaction will be diminished.

And what can I say about potential Presidents?

I began collecting when John F. Kennedy was President. His assassination and the introduction of the Kennedy half dollar seemed big at the time, but it certainly did not affect my Whitman album habits.

Since then eight other Presidents have come and gone. Did any leave a lasting imprint on what I do in numismatics?

I certainly don’t recall anything.

Will that change with the next election?

Not likely.

But human nature is what it is and we will all be distracted to some degree all the same – just remember who you are and what you are doing as a collector and keep the impact of the distractions to a minimum.

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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