If there were some limit on the number of coins you could buy, would that make you a better collector?
I know it is a silly question. The number of coins we can buy is growing dramatically year by year. Marketers are pitching numismatics 24/7. Buy, buy and buy again validates us as active collectors.
But think about it.
How many modern clad proof sets would you have purchased since 1968 if it reduced your quota of the good stuff that you could place in your collection?
Would you still be buying rolls or bags of Presidential dollars, or S-mint uncirculated America the Beautiful quarters if each piece counted against something else?
I am not advocating some new kind of collecting controls, but in essence I am suggesting that we would all benefit from realizing that each of our collecting purchases limits our ability to act on a future purchase if for no other reason than most of us do not have unlimited funds.
I have been telling the story for years of how I spent $15 to buy my first 1968 proof set on the secondary market that year and watched it jump to $20 and then slump to less than the $5 issue price.
Would I have been better off spending the original $15 on some beautiful uncirculated Mercury dimes? Undoubtedly. The 1968 set turned out to be a total waste of my hard earned funds.
But yet many of us do this – repeatedly.
Why carefully plan a future purchase that will be a joy forever when the latest online Mint offer looks like it might be a sellout?
I have no idea how much money I have spent in my five decades in numismatics on impulse purchases, or on coins that I later regretted buying, but I do have specific memories of many of my purchases. Some were smart, but way too many seem to have been prompted by some sort of addiction to action.
Have you bought modern commemoratives in the past 30 years only to blow some of them off later as bullion because you got tired of owning these very common pieces?
Sure, mistakes and changing interests are part of how we grow as hobbyists. You cannot reduce mistakes to zero, nor can you prevent yourself from getting interested in something new, or making an occasional impulse purchase.
But even cutting yourself some necessary slack for all this, wouldn’t it be better to figure out some method of acquiring pieces that you will always be proud to own and fewer coins that make you feel like a chump not long after you take them out of the mailer?
If you add up all of your purchases for the past year of under $100 each and evaluate what you purchased, will your satisfaction in owning these coins exceed that of spending the total sum on just one special coin, say a 1922 plain Lincoln cent or a 1909-S VDB you’ve always wanted but never quite got around to purchasing?
If before every purchase you consider this, you might increase your satisfaction.
I should be so disciplined.