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Viewpoint: Free classified ads keep hobby humming

I had a friend who collected things. Various things. Nothing in particular. However, among those things were coins, namely, wheat cents.

I had a friend who collected things. Various things. Nothing in particular. However, among those things were coins, namely, wheat cents. He?d sell them to me for three cents apiece. If the dates went into the ?30s, ?20s or teens, he?d pass the coins on for more, more or less. They were among his treasures of coins, jewelry, maps and things.

By watching this person I learned how to collect things. I grew fascinated by the large variety of things, overall, that he had amassed over the years. For instance, golf balls, cigarette points, coins, jewelry, treasure maps, bullion, etc. I had to get in on some of those things, for they?d seemed fascinating and profitable to me.

I started simple with golf balls. I?d assembled them together and sold them to my friend, who had a swarm of them himself. He would, in turn, sell them in bulk to clients that he knew. This went on for a while, until I figured out that I could sell them for more profit if I sold them to clients directly myself. This led to a cable television ad and a small stand next to the golf course. Both avenues were quite profitable. Fascinatingly, I still have one dozen personalized balls that I thought were the best out of all the thousands of balls that passed through my hands those years.

Following that idea came cigarette points. I?d smoked for years, so when they came along I took full advantage of them. I would take them off of the packs and gather them, also, when I rode my bike. Their count went up quickly and I received many a gift for my effort. All that collecting had paid off nicely.

Afterward came the wheat cents. If I had found them in change I?d keep them, and if my friend had some he?d sell them to me for three cents apiece. I wouldn?t put them in coin boards, though. Instead, I would put them in two by twos. The country, year, mint, grade and any variety feature that existed would be clearly mentioned on the white section of this basic storage container. Then everything would be socked away neatly together.

This all added up to hundreds of coins stored away for the future. And when that future finally came, the coins sold quickly to collectors through the classified ads in section 508 in the back section of this newspaper.

Consequently, my luck led me to nickels. I did the same with them as I had done with the wheat cents. If they were found in my pocket change, I?d grab them and filter them out, for they were plentiful this way. Little help from my collector friend, though, this time. The only thing that he could do is supply me with four out of five consecutive years of proof nickels, which I immediately procured from him. I then bought the missing proof year nickel at a local coin and stamp shop, sold the entire set rapidly in section 517 in the classified ad section in the back of this newspaper and was happy.

Error coins followed afterward with a brockage nickel, double die cents of which one is extreme, brass plated cents, quarter errors, etc. Some items selling quickly in section 571 in the classified ad section in the back section of this newspaper, and others not selling at all.

Come to think of it, all during this time when I was grouping American coins together, I was also gathering Canadian small cents. Most from pocket change that I received during business transactions, and others that I bought at the local coin and stamp shop. That?s where I acquired a nice high grade set of Canadian small cent bronzes from the George V era.
Some I have already let go of after many a year of treasuring, and others still are still being offered, occasionally, in section 585 in the classified ad section in the back section of this newspaper. So there.

You might say I do a lot about thinking about profit. The free ad section of this newspaper has allowed me, and many others, to sell coins that would have been tough to sell in any other way. This feature allows me and others to play the coin market in a deep-down, participating way. For example, I look for a deal that I like, I respond to the classified ad that contains it, I wait for the deal to arrive, I check it out, I probably keep it, and if so I keep it for a good long time, until I start this process of trade all over again. Only this time, with me being the seller, not the buyer. Again, all for free, the ad and me.

In summary, I got into collecting coins this way:

I was far from my millions
Confessing my sin
Being a man in search of
A coin that could win.

David W. Newcomb is a numismatist from Braintree, Mass.

To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send e-mail to