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Stay in, stay active, stay sharp

Every collector has a want list whether he writes it somewhere or not.

That list always seems to grow faster than money is earned to pay for the items on it.

However, collectors don’t just work their way through it over time. They run hot and cold when a steadier pace would do them the most good.

Sometimes there are good reasons for the changes of pace. Family obligations always trump numismatic ones. That cannot be helped.

However, that very long gap between having a young family and middle age when children are grown and gone is a costly one in terms of opportunities foregone.

If you have just returned to the hobby after an absence of 20 years or so, you are shocked by what has happened to prices. This is primarily a function of higher gold and silver prices at the more affordable end of the spectrum and the crazy bidding currently going on for the absolute top end of classic American rarities. This is in part spurred on by the competitive assembling of registry sets.

Two decades ago this month gold was trading around $375 an ounce and silver was around $4.50.

All prices based on bullion are now 4.5 times higher for silver and 3.4 times higher for gold.

Wouldn’t it have been nice to put away a few coins at those lower prices than coming back now and paying higher prices?

True, after two decades of growth, many individuals have higher incomes and can use it to pursue their collecting objectives.

However, because coin prices on average tend to rise in irregular waves rather than consistent percentages, prices paid today can very easily be at a plateau that will see similar prices a decade from now.

It is far better to have some skin in the game at all times.

It might not make any economic difference to you that the single MS-63 Saint-Gaudens double eagle type coin that you bought for around $450 in 1993 is now worth $1,600. But the psychological boost is almost priceless.

It shows that you can act and achieve a positive result. It makes you confident to try to do it again.

Sitting on the sidelines simply allows skills to rust and doubts to grow. Far better to spend a few dollars a year to stay active and informed than to jump back in unaware and perhaps in a hurry.

Will anyone take my advice?

Probably not, but it is worth a shot giving it.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."