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Don't let mistakes pull you down

Nobody likes to make mistakes. But for a true coin collector, mistakes are a part of our overall experience.

The hope and the expectation is that they are limited in nature and we learn from them and never repeat the error.

Collectors who start as kids have an advantage. They are playing with small sums of money that can be recouped in later life. They also learn quicker.

Krause Publications reader surveys show that the average reader is 59, up about 8 years from when I joined the staff 34 years ago.

Approximately half of these collecting readers started in the hobby as a kid. That doesn’t mean they collected every year since then, but that’s when the bug first bit them.

Around 40 percent started collecting at 40 years of age or older.

It’s that latter group that can run into problems. They have life experience. They have money and some don’t like to be novices at anything, so they jump in too quickly and spend too much money before they really know what they are about.

Fortunately, not too many of these overeager would-be collectors find out that I exist. For some reason they seem to skip reading about the hobby either in the form of the weekly newspaper Numismatic News and online at But I get an occasional call that let’s me know they are out there.

The worst one occurred quite a while ago. It was sometime during the pre-Internet 1990s.

The caller said he had some coins that he had spent something over $10,000 acquiring. He wanted to know current values. Could I provide them?

So one by one I looked through Coin Market to find the prices.

After a few of these, perhaps three or four, he was very obviously getting angry. He had paid more, much more than the prices I was quoting.

He didn’t provide me with details other than the identifications of the coins, but he did let me have it with both barrels.

I was a crook, according to him.

At that point, I was looking for a quick way to end the conversation.

I had never spoken to him before. As far as I know, he wasn’t a Numismatic News subscriber.

All I could do was draw my own conclusions.

If you happen to be starting to buy coins and you don’t have a grounding from childhood, please take your time and learn before you buy too much.

Numismatics is a fun and rewarding hobby – really.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."