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Free choice makes collecting what it is

Is there only one way to correctly collect coins?

I ask the question again because I had an e-mail that got me to thinking along these lines. We are going through a period of explosive growth in the numismatic field. Newcomers are doing what they want to do and are bumping into the hobby veterans.

Most veterans are a good-natured bunch who want to share what they know and help newbies avoid the traps that they themselves fell into years ago.

On the whole, their advice to newcomers is sound, especially if the newcomers’ ultimate goal is to put together nice sets with their names on the coins’ pedigrees and auction them off with a big-name firm in the distant future.

But what of those people who don’t or won’t do that for whatever reason?

I received an e-mail from a concerned grandfather. The place he was getting gold-colored state quarters no longer provided them and he wondered what to do.
Now traditional hobby advice would be to tell him that gold-plated quarters are a novelty and a waste of money if you want to get some kind of return on the time and money invested.

Traditional advice is true, but I am not going to respond with that information. Why spoil the fun the grandfather was having spoiling his grandkids with pretty gold-colored quarters?

The simple fact that the grandchildren are being exposed to coins in any form might inspire one or more of them to take up the hobby in later years.

I had an e-mail this week from my friend Ray Dillard. He makes elongated coins and often appears at conventions to make souvenirs. He noted that elongateds are often found in the holdings of old-time collectors even though he apparently noticed a few people talking them down.

What’s the point of disparaging elongateds? They are fun. They remind me of the shows I have attended. I am sure they do the same for others.

We had an ad in late April offering Presidential dollars in ballistic rolls and several readers went ballistic. How can we do that, they asked?

I did the math, and if my figures are correct, if you bought the four 2007 designs for $496, you received 255 coins  (the first 2008 roll was free as a part of the deal, plus one free additional coin per roll to handle). That works out to $1.945 per coin. Had we run an ad offering 2007 Presidential dollars for $1.95 each plus shipping, it probably would have garnered little notice and not attracted many buyers.

Veteran coin collectors have the best of intentions, but one of the reasons I became a coin collector is I could do anything I wanted that appealed to me. I made mistakes. I bought some silly things along the way, but I was doing what I wanted to do – I wasn’t doing something that was good for me (at least I didn’t realize that I was).
Trying to take the spontaneity out of collecting is a surefire way to kill it.

When I was a kid, if someone would have told me to change what I was doing for my own good, I am sure I would have responded to it as all kids tend to do.

You know what that answer is.

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