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‘Small’ Collector: Stay Who You Are

Editor’s Note: Following is a response to a Viewpoint written by Larry Suttman, “NN Should Appeal More to ‘Small’ Collectors” from the Jan. 5, 2021, issue of Numismatic News.

By Paul Malone

Dear Mr. Suttman,

I feel the need to correct your self-assessment as a “small” collector as opposed to a “professional” collector. You are not a small collector. You are a pure collector. I’m jealous. We all started out that way, and we’re all trying to recapture the wide-eyed wonder that we haven’t felt since we saw our first 3-cent piece.

The excitement of collecting begins to wane the moment we allow things like price, condition, resale value and the like to muddy the waters. We are no longer collecting for the sake of collecting. We’ve become investors, or what you might consider a “professional” collector. Collecting becomes less of a hobby, and more of a business. Please stay just the way you are. Our hobby needs you.

I remember the day my grandfather showed me an Indian Head penny. I had never seen one before. It was the most awesome thing I had ever laid eyes on. It was old and worn. It was a coin I wouldn’t even want to own today, but from that moment on, I wanted one! My life was “different” after that. A door had been opened and I stepped through it with a big smile on my face.

My dad used to carry a list of the Lincoln cents I needed for my Whitman folder. He checked his change for me every day. One day he found a 1911 penny. It was, at the time, my oldest coin. I remember that day vividly and, as with the Indian Head, the coin was old and worn out, but I didn’t care. I was still a “pure” collector.

I’ve owned some valuable coins in my life, but none of them could match the sheer joy of those two old, common, worn-out pennies. No, Mr. Suttman, you don’t need any advice from us. We need advice from you.

This Viewpoint was written by Paul Malone of Forest Lake, Minn.

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