Summer is ending. The school has already started in many places.
For me, it is a time to reflect and a time to offer a little advice.
Summer was my time as a kid to search huge quantities of coins from a local bank.
It made my hands dirty.
The odor of the coins and the dirt on my hands was very familiar to me.
If numismatics is a hands-on hobby, this was it.
The fact is, numismatics is a hands-on hobby, even to this day, but it is so tempting to ignore this fact.
Slabbed coins tell you what they are, what the grade is and with the encapsulation you really can’t touch the coin.
Modern mint packaging is gorgeous.
It also sends a “hands off” message to the owner.
The age of circulation finds is pretty well over for most current collectors.
So what are the opportunities for hands-on study?
That is a problem unless you can fly off to the American Numismatic Association Summer Seminar and rub elbows with the sharpest minds in numismatics.
But that is a daunting prospect for average collectors, myself included, as I have only ever been to one Summer Seminar.
Time and money are serious factors here. So what should you do?
My answer is spend $100 on cheap modern coins that are languishing on the secondary market.
You can buy clad proof sets, silver clad proof sets and silver proof sets.
There are clad, silver clad and silver uncirculated coins sets as well.
Do this more than once.
The only way a collector can truly understand what he is collecting is to get into the nitty-gritty of actually handling coins.
Obviously, you do not want to do this with your treasures, but there are certainly enough of the common coins around that will not be missed if you use them in this way.
As you educate yourself, you might find that you are having fun. That is the ultimate summertime goal.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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