I thought I should write a short “article” or “message" (or whatever you want to call it) about collecting and what I have learned. Let me being by stating a little about myself. First, I am young…I am 27 years old. I also am also inexperienced in the “ways of the world” because I have spent nearly every year of my life in school. I recently completed my doctorate.
I have always enjoyed “collecting” and coins were not my first hobby. As a child, I loved sports and collected sports cards. Let me rephrase that, I hoarded sports cards. I wanted to collect every set and every player. I had no direction. When I entered middle school, I discovered the wonderful world of US coins and began to collect coins. My interest in sports cards began to fade and my interest in coins rose. However, my old habits remained. Again, I wanted to collect every coin and complete every set. For several years, I collect coins in this manner and by the time I got to high school I had a large collection of mostly low grade coins.
Here are a few examples of what I acquired:
1893-CC Morgan Dollar – harshly cleaned
1914-D Lincoln Cent – environmental damage
Rather than saving up for decent quality coins, I had become obsessed with simply “filling holes.” I wanted to complete sets…I thought that was the point. Now, the majority of my collection was circulation finds or cheap dime bin purchases. Nothing spent so nothing gained. However, I did “invest” a fair amount of my earnings into nicer date problem coins. The only way I could afford key dates was to purchase problems coins. I didn’t realize that these coins would never be desirable because they were damaged. I didn’t care. I could “fill the hole.”
Once I reached high school, my interest in coins slowly began to fade as other interests (sports, girls, grades, ect.) began to consume my life. For a while, I ceased being a collector of anything.
I entered college and slowly began to rediscover my interests in these hobbies; both coins and sports cards. As I began to look through my collections, I realized that I had accumulated a collection of “junk” and the majority of it would have to be repurchased. I had very little that I was “proud of.” Many pieces were simply fillers. I didn’t get excited looking at any of it.
Unfortunately being in college…and then graduate school, my funds were extremely limited. I decided that I wanted to return to these hobbies, but I wanted to do it correctly. I began to define my interests. I decided what sets I liked and how I wanted to collect. With coins, I discovered CT in 2006 and joined and began to relearn everything. I discovered that what I wanted to collect with coins at the time was beyond my budget…so I decide to wait and learn. For several years, I didn’t buy a single coin. I simply hung around CT and learned so when the day came when I could begin to collect again I would have the knowledge to do so.
With sports cards, I found it much easier to return because there were many cards that I enjoyed and would be proud to own within my budget. I was very specific in what I wanted and how I defined my collection. I had narrowed it down to a few players and some specific vintage cards. For example, one of my favorite players was Joey Harrington…the former Oregon QB (I’m a University of Oregon alumni). I decided I wanted to collect game used jersey cards of Harrington…but not just any jersey cards. I only wanted cards with multi-colored jersey pieces (which in the card industry is considered much more desirable). By the time I began collecting, Harrington’s career had fallen apart and his cards were very affordable. So, on a very limited budget I was able to slowly assemble a small collection I could be very proud of. I realized that by waiting, searching, and hand picking each piece for my collection…it was far more gratifying. It took a lot longer, but the end results were unbelievably better. Here are a few examples from that collection:
I could have simply purchased pieces with plain white jersey pieces (which are much easier to find)…but I didn’t. I waited and found choice examples.
After experiencing such joy with the cards, I was able to slowly again return to collecting coins. I decided to apply the same technique to coins. I took a quality over quantity approach and only bought a coin here and there…but I hand picked out each one. I only bought examples that I really liked. This didn’t mean spending a lot of money. Most were $75 or less (many considerably less). I was just extremely picky. My “new” collection is not a large collection, but it is a nice collection. I am finding much greater joy than I ever have before.
Here are two of my more recently purchased coins:
As you can see, both are high grade coins. I purchased the dime because I loved the toning. The German coin is a conditional rarity. It was recently graded MS62 by PCGS and is the finest example I have ever seen.
The moral of this story is to avoid collecting to simply “fill holes.” Collect so you have a collection that you can be proud of. Just because you don’t have a large budget does not mean that assembling a nice collection is impossible. It simply means that you must work a little harder to find the examples you want and your collection will be smaller. It means it will take more time. But, believe me. It’s much nicer to have a collection of 50 coins you love than a collection of 500 coins that are “OK.”