By Charles J. Hendrickson
This article is not meant to discourage anyone from collecting coins and paper money. Coin collecting can be some folks’ heart and soul hobby, and they feel good about collecting all types of coins and currency. The hobby makes them feel good when they see coins in books or at coin shows, and they can say, “I’ve got some of those” or “I have that coin.”
Then there’s the coin they’ve saved for always on the horizon. Some folks have the money to buy coins at any price, but most collectors have a budget and buy the best coins or paper money they can afford. There are collectors who just look for coins in their change or search through rolls of coins in hopes of finding a rare one to fill a slot in a book.
Every numismatist has their own opinion and me, being in my 80s, have mine. (Humor me.) Having been a longtime coin collector, in my opinion, I often wonder why some collectors see value in what I consider should be called culls. Mistakes made in coins or paper money production are not masterpieces. Like a new car with a bend in the finder that’s not supposed to be there. I fail to see the value in double dies, large dates and small dates. What’s the big deal? Why aren’t damaged, under-struck and off-centered coins or whatever included in date collections? The government mints don’t make errors deliberately; therefore, why collect errors? Error coins are just a novelty that should be looked at like a crushed bottle cap. The same goes for paper money over-prints, misprints, off-centers and the like. That type of money, in my opinion, has no real value, only as a low-priced novelty.
Also, the U.S. Mint is not the Mint of old. The Mint used to make coins and bills for circulating, but now they’re in the profit business, making too many kinds of sellable oddities, commemorative and medallions.
Another subject about coin collecting is the definition of value. One sees advertisements for uncirculated Walking Liberty silver $1 coins. The first thing, the Liberty is not currency, it’s a medallion or a round ingot with an image of the Walking Liberty and eagle. The definition of currency is: That which is circulated as a medium of exchange, money in actual use, circulation as of coins.
What about paper money? Why are some paper money odd-ball serial numbers so unique? What about stars on paper money serial numbers? They’re not so unique, either. They are just telling you the number has been used before. If I found a bill with a number one on it, I might save it, maybe. Any other, I would just spend. Star bills are like saving present day baseball cards, they’re nothing.
Coin collecting now is an old man’s hobby, and that’s who you see the most of at the coin shows. I’ll make a prediction: 20, maybe 30, years from now, the mints will be out of the coin business. No more coins and paper dollars will be needed. United States money will not exist. Presently in some monetary transactions, people are using digital crypto and Bitcoin money. Bitcoins or Bit money is not backed by a government, just their weight in gold. So in the future, the world bank will start issuing digital credits. Money as we now see it will no longer exist. In fact, most dollar money in banks and saving organizations doesn’t exist now; it’s all on micro-chips, who knows where. The banks use collateral to back the money chips in cyber space. Someday in the future, the world bank will make the U.S. dollar obsolete and change the monetary units into credits, and the Bitcoin will go away with it.
One remembers when banks printed their own money. Well, the Bitcoin is in the same category. Everybody will have to use a credit card or code number for transactions to purchase anything. That will stop the Mints from selling so-called collector coins. Most collector coins will be worth very little, except silver, gold and very old rare coins.
The future of coin collecting makes me very worried. I’m hoping coin collecting won’t go down the path of stamp collecting, baseball cards and other collectibles. The younger generation has an iPod or a laptop at their face almost constantly. It’s a sad thing that the young are missing out on some of the best things in life.
There’s more I could complain about coin collecting. Like coin shop cherry-pickers, phony coin ads, counterfeiting and how suddenly all the uncirculated old coins that pop up for sale. There are books out that state what a coin is worth, but unfortunately that’s not what dealers charge. They don’t publish a book that states fair wholesale prices for the public so a person selling coins or dollars can receive a fair price.
The real question is: How do you sell 70 years of coin collecting to a dealer without being taken to the cleaners?
Charles J. Hendrickson is a collector from Morton, Wash.
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