Skip to main content

Many a calendar page has turned

My goodness, where has the year gone? This is the last paper issue of 2017. Next week will see an electronic issue put together. Then comes the Jan. 2, 2018, Florida United Numismatists convention special issue.

ClassOf63 1219

When the calendar turns the page, I will not only be wondering about the whereabouts of the past year, but the past 40.

When I first entered the Krause Publications building in Iola, Wis., there was an “8” in the date, as in 1978. It was the 100th anniversary of the Morgan silver dollar. The Eisenhower dollar was still being struck for circulation.

Much has changed in 40 years. The Internet is at the top of this list. But much has remained the same. Exhibit A are collectors themselves. We still pretty much think as we did in 1978.

The Lincoln cent and the Morgan dollar are the most popular coins to collect. For cent collectors, nothing ever replaced the emotion of chasing the elusive 1909-S VDB.

Morgan dollar collectors were and still are the manifestation of hobbyists loving large silver coins rather than small ones like dimes.

Apparently my filling Whitman albums with silver Roosevelt and Mercury dimes was simply a dalliance of convenience. They came into my hands in my daily life as a kid. I saved some. The same might be said for silver quarters. All silver change is long gone, but not the hankering for the precious metal.

When collectors have the choice now, their eyes light up over large silver American Eagles. After all, if you don’t get a coin in circulation, why chase after something small?

Small has never been viewed kindly. Tiny coins are easy to lose. They might even bend, as silver three-cent pieces were susceptible to doing. As soon as something better came along, small silver coins were ditched.

Clad coins still get no respect. Many people claim there is nothing in circulation a half century after it became common for collectors to make this observation. This occurs despite the fact that we have nearly 100 different quarter designs in use. In another 40 years, clad coins will still probably not be respected. Collector preferences change but slowly.

Another thing that has not changed is the idea that all coins should rise in value. This proposition is manifestly false, as any check of my accumulation of modern proof sets will attest. This does not deter collectors. They know. They understand for the most part. But they forget to tell their heirs. The result is dealers breaking bad news to family members being called crooks. I get emails from people asking me to recommend an honest coin dealer.

Even though it is no longer 1978, my younger self would easily recognize the hobby that we will share in 2018.

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

More Collecting Resources

• Keep up to date on prices for Canada, United States and Mexico coinage with the 2018 North American Coins & Prices guide.

• Order the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, General Issues to learn about circulating paper money from 14th century China to the mid 20th century.