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Follow rules to give 2018 good start

It is not quite the end of the year as I write this. It will soon be time to evaluate my forecasts made for 2017. I then have to make new ones for 2018.

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Overthinking is the biggest enemy of forecasts. It is probably the biggest enemy of every coin collector. The times I tried to think of every angle before making a purchase, I usually lived to regret.

Often, this process involved rationalizing a fault on a coin that I had been looking for. Instead of passing on it, I wanted to leap to make the purchase just to be able to say I had succeeded in my quest. That is not the smart thing to do.

There are only two things coin collectors should consider when they are buying a coin. The first is do they want it? You know, does it fill a gap in a set? Is it something that had always been desired? If the answer is yes, go to the next consideration.

If you do buy it, is there someone going to want to buy it when you are tired of it, or your heirs are disposing of your assets?

If the answer to this question is no, you had better reconsider what you are doing. By focusing on who might want to buy the coin down the road, that should prevent you from acting on impulse and buying a coin that is inferior in some way.

I own more inferior coins than I want to admit to myself. The bad habit began in the days of trying to fill all the holes in a Whitman album. Some coins were harder to find than others. Some are more expensive than others. The tendency then was to buy the cheapest expensive date, leaving me with inferior quality.

The maxim of buying the best you can afford should not be devalued to mean buy key dates in VG when the rest of the set is XF. Try to keep the set looking well matched.

There are innocent reasons why you can have inferior coins. When I was a kid just starting out filling cent albums, I found a cent in the dirt floor of a garage. As I recall, it was dated 1911, which to me seemed ancient. But it also looked like it had been kicked around for 1,000 years rather than merely half a century.

I still have the coin somewhere. It has sentimental value. I didn’t find many coins in my collection laying on the ground. Most of my early acquisitions were earned by searching through bank rolls and the money that came my way on my paper route.

There likely will be no future buyer for that 1911 cent. It will go to the bank at some point. If the denomination still exists at that time, perhaps a collector saving copper will spot it and keep it for another 50 years. It will never command a premium price. But I know that.

The 1911 cent experience was part of the fun of collecting then. It is part of the fun now in the form of reminiscing. It is also a reminder for me to follow the rules when making serious purchases.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• Are you a U.S. coin collector? Check out the 2018 U.S. Coin Digest for the most recent coin prices.

• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-2000 is your guide to images, prices and information on coinage of the 1900s.