Skip to main content

Evolve with the times is my motto

The discussion over the future of the hobby continues with a very interesting Viewpoint this week, which you can read by clicking here.


Perhaps we should pretend that it is the first day of class and our new teacher asked us a little bit about ourselves so the rest of our classmates know who we are.

For numismatic purposes, I will ask for letters to the editor on the topic of “what I collect and why.” When a particular Mint offer sells out in days, we can understand that there are several tens of thousands of collectors who are scrambling to obtain it.

But do any of these several tens of thousands of collectors still put Jefferson nickels in a Whitman album?

How about Roosevelt dimes? How many are still collecting these. Reading market reports, these coins are just about dead unless you are talking about buying pre-1965 pieces in bulk as a silver bullion investment.

What about Washington quarters? I spent years on my set. I even bought the 1932-D and 1932-S to finish it. But I really haven’t kept up with the last 40 years of clad issues unless you count the mint sets that I have as part of the quarter set.

Lincoln cents still elicit lively activity. The find of the copper small-date 1982-D cent reported on the front page is proof of this.

I marvel at the sheer quantities of coins these dedicated collectors must go through. The fortunate collector who found the small date 1982-D is doing with copper coins what other collectors a half century ago were doing with silver. Then as now, the dates were checked before tucking the coins safely into growing hoards of the metals in question.

The love-hate relationship with the Mint has never really changed. It might be hard to believe, but animosity toward the Mint was much greater in the 1960s for taking mintmarks away and for its part in accusing collectors of creating the national coin shortage.

That is all water under the bridge nowadays. The bad blood usually boils down to collectors not being able to get the latest hot item before it sells out, or the price of an item is perceived to be too high.

Now the Mint is not going to sell us brand-new coins for melt value, nor will it put some rarities into circulation deliberately for us to find rather than sell them on its website.

It would be nice if we could get the Mint to strike to order so that it never runs out of popular coins, but the paradox is a majority of collectors would rather be upset with missing a hot item than be bored by items that can never run out.

Nevertheless, there are opportunities. I will never find a rare cent in circulation. My eyes are employed in other, less strenuous activities. My comment isn’t meant to devalue the contributions of those collectors who do. Quite the opposite. I miss my younger days when circulation finds were hugely important to me.

However, time has marched on for me as it eventually does for everyone. The key is to keep evolving with the times and physical limitations. If you can do that, you will always be a happy collector.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• Start becoming a coin collector today with this popular course, Coin Collecting 101.

• Are you a U.S. coin collector? Check out the 2017 U.S. Coin Digest for the most recent coin prices.