If you could start coin collecting all over again, what would you do differently?
Another way of putting this question is: if you were completely free to collect anything that appeals to you, what would it be?
Too many of us are trapped by our first choices. I began collecting Lincoln cents when I was 8 years old. Does that decision irrevocably tie me to Lincoln cents?
I began buying modern proof sets from the U.S. Mint with the 1969 offering. I soon developed a regular habit of buying a proof set and a mint set every year, sometimes acquiring the five sets maximum if I thought I would make a little money on the extra sets.
Does that mean I should buy modern coins always?
Collecting paper money seemed too expensive when I used the logic of the child that I was during my first years in numismatics. Must that decision prevent me from sticking my toe in the paper money waters now that I have gray hair?
I ask these questions because I think they are universally applicable. Most of us began collecting whatever was at hand at the time we started. Too many of us remained chained to that model for too long.
I was envious of Arizona collector William Gaitlan when I read about his find of the 1969-S doubled-die cent in Debbie Bradley’s article in the Sept. 9 issue. Of course finding a coin worth over $20,000 in circulation makes me drool. I think any collector finds this exciting.
But I found it particularly appealing that he had just begun collecting in 2011 when he was inspired by the book, Strike It Rich with Pocket Change by Ken Potter.
I was envious of the sense of freedom that there must be to look across the whole of numismatics to pick something that I am attracted to right now.
In no way was I envious of the huge quantity of cents he must have looked through. I have been there. I have done that. I moved on to other areas though I retained all but one of the coins in my incomplete Lincoln cent set because that’s what we do, right? That shouldn’t be the case. I am glad I found cents, but it should not be a surprise that what interested me at 8 is not so captivating a half century later.
I probably buy too many modern coin issues. The old thrill is still there when I do open a new Mint-shipped package, but I no longer buy Mint offerings automatically as I once did.
In the 1990s I found paper money. I asked myself why I let almost 30 years pass before I took it seriously. The short answer as to why is you cannot do everything. Some things you do not even become aware of at your first glance at numismatics. We are all learning all the time, especially about ourselves.
If you felt yourself free to begin again, what would you collect? If the idea of starting off in a new direction appeals to you, do it. I can’t promise you a $20,000 coin find, but I can promise you that the experience will be made all the sweeter by that sense of freedom that making a choice to try something new brings.
More Coin Collecting Resources:
• Kick-start your coin collection with the Fundamentals of Coin Collecting set of essential resources and tools.
• Strike it rich with this U.S. coins value pack.
• Build an impressive collection with Coin Collecting 101.