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Viewpoint: Once-fun hobby now a money game

By: Mike Davis

I started collecting in 1960 when I was 11 years old. Back then, many coins could be found in circulation and many relatives and friends would give me coins that they had collected over the years and you could go to the local dealer and find many coins for cheap.

The first coin I purchased was a 1909 VDB for 25 cents from a longtime dealer named Fred Coops in San Bernardino, Calif. Coin collecting was easy, cheap and fun. There was no high pressure dealer sales, television shopping networks, cherry pickers, slabbed coins, bullion sales, or the greedy, corrupt U.S. Mint. Slabbed coins can’t be put in a Whitman holder, and if I had all my valuable ones slabbed, I would have no space. Additionally, the slabbed value is still only one group’s opinion. Too much expense and trouble for me.

2012 U.S. Coin Digest: Cents

This easy-to-search pricing and identification download is solely focused on U.S cents.

I have seen a fun hobby turned into an insane race to make huge profits from collectors. The U.S. Mint promotes and exemplifies this insanity. In 2010, I saw the coming of the end for me, everything sky-rocketing out of sight. The state quarters program was a good thing, but it should have ended there.

The territory and national park quarters extended the program even further, not for the benefit of the collector but to sap the collectors of more money for worthless coins. There are hundreds of millions of state, territory and national park quarters. They have no real value other than the fake market supported by dealers who bought bags of them to foist upon the collector.

Why is it that when I try and resell a Mint or proof set of even older mintage, you are told they are not worth anything and you cannot even get half of the original U.S. Mint sales price from a dealer? Yet the same dealer will try to sell you the quarters as something special and unique at a premium price. It would seem that the first day cover issues for the quarters would have some more intrinsic value for being first day issues, but they are overlooked as stamps or something less.

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The presidential and golden dollar program is even worse. They were millions minted, but you cannot find them anywhere in circulation. The same with 2009, 2010 and 2011 nickels and dimes. And forget the half dollar, which is not even minted for circulation. The only way you can get the Kennedy half dollar from recent years is if you buy it directly from the Mint in rolls with a hefty premium per roll, or from a dealer who also charges an exorbitant premium. The average collector cannot afford to collect anymore and they cannot begin to compete with all the dealers. A case in point is the recent 100,000 mintage limited silver Eagle anniversary set that sold out in just a few hours. The dealers and shopping networks have lots of them for sale, slabbed and ready for purchase on the secondary market.

And the biggest culprit causing the ruination of a once wonderful hobby is the U.S. Mint itself. Hundreds of bogus products for high prices supposedly connected to bullion prices and scarcity, a scarcity imposed upon the collector by their devious practices. Example the U.S. Mint Medal programs the First Ladies medals and other medals commemorating other persons and events. These medals cost an average of $3.50 until 2011. Now they have suddenly jumped to $7.95 per medal, over twice as much.
All of this has served to discourage and anger me immensely and I have decided to quit collecting unless it is from pocket change or from some dealers “Junk Box” at the same coin shows where I am attempting to get a reasonable return on my collection of 50 years. This is proving impossible, and I am at the point of donating it to a charity.

This Viewpoint was written by Mike Davis, a hobbyist from Olympia, Wash. Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Numismatic News. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to david.harper@fwmedia.com.

More Coin Collecting Resources:

State Quarters Deluxe Folder By Warmans

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Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition

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