How many life lessons does the average collector learn through his hobby? What do I mean by that? Well let me try to illustrate my point with a couple of examples.
I learned the concept of borrowing money against collateral when I was 6 or 7 years old. It started when my father gave me a Series 1953 $2 United States Note. Even almost 50 years ago the denomination was unusual. My father certainly thought so. I did, too. I kept it. I still have it. I also had an allowance of 30 cents a week. As kids are wont to do, I periodically ran short of money. On one such occasion when I needed money, my father suggested an advance on my allowance with the $2 as collateral.
That was OK with me. I got the money I needed. When I paid it back, I got the note back. This happened a couple of times and by then knew how to manage my income so that I never had to borrow with the note as collateral again.
Sure, my father could have simply given me the money, but he didn’t. Did this make me more responsible as an adult and not overborrow in the boom years?
I will never know, but there certainly could be a connection.
When I had a paper route, Silver Certificates were selling for a premium, so everyone was scrambling for them. The final redemption date was June 24, 1968. At that point, no more silver could be obtained from the government for the notes and the price went back to face value. They had traded for a time at almost double face value.
Anyway, shortly after the deadline, another paperboy who knew I was watching things like that brought me a $1 Silver Certificate. I told him the deadline had passed and it was worth only a buck. He traded it to me for a $1 Federal Reserve Note and went about his business.
Now I was correct in what I said and in my evaluation of what it was worth. But the kid never again showed me anything of interest from the money he collected. Did he simply not find anything, or did he figure it wasn’t worth the effort to bring anything more to my attention?
Would it have killed me to give him a nickel or dime more for the note for his trouble? I certainly didn’t have to do it and I didn’t do it. But afterwards, I wondered what door I might have closed by my actions.
What are lessons like these worth in life? Would I not have learned them anyway in some other fashion had I not been a collector?
But the world is full of people who borrow too much. There are a lot of people who don’t seem to know that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Having the mind set of a collector made me ready to understand these things as they occurred within my hobby framework. The hobby also gave me more opportunities to interact with others than I otherwise would have done.
So what price can you put on life lessons? The time I spend with numismatics both then and now proves to be rewarding on many levels beyond what I happen to be collecting at the moment.