Your article about the future for collecting paper money is right on the money (no pun intended).
I really discovered paper money collecting in 2006 and over the last four years I have purchased several thousand bank notes and a grand total of just three coins!
The entire coin collecting arena just bores me to tears. When I go to a show, all I see are rows and rows of shiny little discs encased in plastic cases. The coin dealership community reminds me of a bunch of used car salesmen hawking junk as valuable treasures. When you try to sell your coins back to the dealer community, all of a sudden your treasures are now common junk. The recent letters in Numismatic News seem to confirm I’m not alone in this assessment.
When I started collecting coins and stamps in 1971, times were simple and the Mint produced two neat sets per year. Now the Mint produces so much over-priced crap no one can afford to purchase all the issues. The Mint should be ashamed to charge $8.95 for 50 pennies. Artificially created scarcity does not create rarities.
The paper money fraternity on the other hand is much more casual, friendly and almost like family. I look forward to all shows now for the paper money discoveries I may find. The knowledge I have gained in the last four years collecting paper money dwarfs anything I have learned from coin dealers. The variety of paper money is immense and very affordable. You can purchase paper money from colonial America for a fraction of the cost of any coin from the 1790s. Many confederate issues from the Civil War era can be purchased for as little as $10. You also don’t need a microscope to view your collection.
I see a parallel comparison with coin collecting and automobile collecting. People collect what was popular in their childhood. The first generation of car collectors collected restored stock condition Ford Model T’s and A’s. The next generation collected modified hot rod Ford Model T’s and A’s. The current generation is collecting 1960s muscle cars. Today stock condition early Fords are shunned and modified hot rods are primarily owned by old grey hair guys. In another 10 years, people will be collecting Japanese imports and only old guys will be collecting 1960s muscle cars.
With all due respect to the ANA, young people have too may interests to have any desire to collect little shiny pieces of metal. People today transact business with paper money, credit cards, debit cards or checks. Coins are relegated to 5-gallon water jugs to be cashed in from time to time. The future does not bode well for coin collecting. When future demand disappears (i.e. current collectors die off) collectible coin prices will most certainly decline. If you have any doubt, just take a look at stamp collecting. Most dealers are just using there collectible stamps as postage as the collectors have virtually disappeared. I just received an envelope of currency purchases that the dealer used 47 stamps from the 1960s and 1970s as postage.
I hope to dispose of all my collectible coins this year to fund my continuing paper money purchases. I don’t know what future generations will collect, but I believe there is a better chance they’ll collect what they use and coins don’t seem to be part of that equation today. In the mean time, I am going to acquire all the bank notes I desire before the masses get wise about the future.
Tim Day is a hobbyist from Calimesa, Calif.
To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send e-mail to email@example.com.