Does your collection have a limit?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sallent, Sep 17, 2019.

  1. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    Do any of you have limits on the size of your collection? Or am I the only one? I ask because a year ago I decided that I would limit myself to 200 coins max. I'm about 2/3 of the way there, or maybe more (haven't counted my collection yet this year as I'm still adding). Once I reach the 200 max, I'll probably sell 5 or 6 and buy myself a nicer coin with the money, and have room to buy a few more until I reach the cap of 200 again. Rinse and repeat and it's a way to slowly upgrade a collection over time and add quality, instead of just adding for volume.

    Why this limit? Because I figured that's the maximum I can collect and still remember what I have without having to consult a catalog, and to still remember certain key things about each coin without having to look it up every time. What good is collecting if I can't even remember what I have when someone posts a coin in the forum, and having to go look it up to see if I have anything relevant to share.

    Anyway, let me know if you have any limits to your collection size, or if you think I'm crazy. I'd love to hear your opinions.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
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  3. jamesicus

    jamesicus Well-Known Member

    I have a limit:

    I do not think you are crazy.
  4. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    I haven't formally set an upper limit, but I have purposefully restricted my focus to the Nerva-Antonines and decided to use display trays to keep my collection small and focused.
  5. spirityoda

    spirityoda Coin Junky Supporter

    My limit is what my wallet will allow. lol Current count 950 and slowly growing. That might change 5 years from now maybe 100-200 very choice coins. I have not decided yet. I have focus in my collecting much more now. Once my toned Canadian caribou quarters collection is done and my 50 cents toned collection is done I will collect 17th 18th 19th century world coins. These coins will be in the highest grade I can afford and have great eye appeal.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  6. Roerbakmix

    Roerbakmix Well-Known Member

    As most collectors, I'm limited by my budget. Fortunately enough, I have had some successes in selling coins that were either of lesser quality, or beyond the scope of my collection. The number of coins that will remain will be about 100-150 of higher quality coins.
    On the other hand: my collection is not well focused, and I do not really intend to do so. I like buying what I like.
  7. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    I think your idea of a 200-coin limit has much merit. Manageable size. Quality over quantity. And selling 5 or 6 "lesser" coins to buy a "bigger" coin is a good way to go about it, without having to pull a big lump sum out of your pocket. This is the way I've gotten my bigger-ticket coins in the past, since I almost never have an abundance of cash in my pocket.

    Of course it takes some material detachment to part with the ones you'll be selling. But for me, that remorse usually goes away later, when I'm basking in the glow of the bigger purchase those sales made possible.

    My "Eclectic Box" was a "Box of 20" collection from 2013-2016 before I threw that limitation out the window and let it grow. The 20-coin limit took a lot of discipline and got to the point where it brought some very hard choices. Since abandoning it, I'm now at slightly over 50 coins, so it's still a relatively small collection.

    Just today I was thinking of sticking to a 50-coin limit for a while, and improving the individual quality/value of the coins (aside from 5 or so pieces which are sentimental favorites, some of which are valuable and some of which are not).

    Not sure if I'll do that or not. Still thinking about it. Maybe I'd stick to the 50-coin limit for a couple of years like I did with the old 20-coin limit, and work on upgrading instead of expanding for a while. Then later, I could go into another expansion phase and let it grow to 75 or 100.

    Since this spring, when I did a big purge and let a lot of my "trophy" coins go, I've been working under a $500/coin budget cap, which is more within my means, but it means bigger gold and things like that are out of reach. There's still plenty of good stuff in the sub-$500 tier, though.
    Paul M., Pellinore, Sallent and 8 others like this.
  8. jamesicus

    jamesicus Well-Known Member

    Actually that was too terse a response @Sallent for you asked for some commentary. As I posted previously, I can carry twenty coins in my shoulder bag with me wherever I go:

    Which provides great security and allows me to fondle, admire and study my coins wherever I go (now mostly Doctor’s offices, medical clinics, pharmacies, etc.). The last time I posted this pic that rascal @Orfew counted the number of coins in the Bag (21) and wrote ………

    “James, you sneaky devil. I count 21 coins in your (edited:bag)”

    ……… which forced me to admit I was carrying a “reserve” coin in the extra pocket. Well, @Orfew, there is now a new “reserve” coin - what do you think it is?

    I think I have lined up enough research and reading material pertaining to those twenty coins and their historical associations to last me ten years — I intend to read, reread and study all of the wonderful Mattingly introductions to the BMCRE volumes; same with the Sutherland introductory chapters to RIC volume VI and VII; the research writings of Bastien; all of the major biographies of the Julio-Claudians, Flavians and the Tetrarchs; the annotated panegyrics of the Tetrarchs …………… and so on and so on. And I intend to keep adding to, and updating, my web pages and composing new ones. When the ten years that I have allocated to this project have passed I will be 100 years old and there should have been enough new books and reference material published during that time to keep me going for at least a few more years! :)

    Added via Edit: And I will frequently break away from the reading and research during that time in order to render calligraphy and bind books.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    No limits. I'm a pack rat. I'd outdo the British Museum if I could!
  10. Andrew McCabe

    Andrew McCabe Well-Known Member

    Mine is reducing in size, from about 2000 in the late 2000s to about 700 now. I'm constantly selling 5 (hint: tomorrow there's 75 on the block at my usual outlet venue) and buying 1, and that recycling has been going on for years. Yes there is a limit. I have observed that below 300 denarii, collections of Roman Republican coins lose their cohesiveness as they miss too many of the key types. I currently have about 400 silver but also have 250 bronzes and 50 aes grave, so frankly I'm trending close to my lower limit, which is probably around 350 silver, 200 bronze and 50 aes grave or gold, i.e. 600 in total. In practice there's probably less that I can afford to shed, as by now the types that would be easiest to shed without affecting cohesiveness are likely either among the best condition or the best provenanced of what remains. So am bumping down into the limit. In practice, once I'm at that ideal collection size, continuing to collect will get very difficult as additions or replacements tend to get very expensive for me now, beyond means of my limited pension (I've really relied on sales to generate enough to keep upgrading).

    As an example of a coin that's not really needed for cohesiveness, consider this Baebia Tamphilus denarius: it's a Dioscuri type with a family-name monogram and since there's about 100 different types that could be described as "Dioscuri with a family-name monogram", one more or less wouldn't make a difference to my collection:
    19164121198_da89c9bbb2_z (1).jpg
    But what does make a difference is its provenance:

    Stack's 14th Jun.1971 lot 88 with ticket ($60)
    ex Cahn-Hess (17 Jul.1933) lot 346 Haeberlin coll.
    = Banti Baebia 1/3 (this coin)
    = Cohen 1857 pl.VII Baebia 1 (this coin)
    = Babelon 1885 p.250 Baebia 1 (this coin)

    So I need that illustrious provenance stream even though I don't really need the coin type!

    Hence: in concept, a limit of 600 coins for an all-metals Roman Republican collection, that is not aiming to be comprehensive, makes sense. In practice, one needs more coins to accommodate this sort of piece!
  11. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    When I get to the point that I can't remember what I have, then that would be the time to sell everything.

  12. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random nobody who doesn’t know anything...

    My budget is my limit.
    jamesicus, Paul M., TIF and 8 others like this.
  13. GoldFinger1969

    GoldFinger1969 Well-Known Member

    As I go for quality over quantity, I don't have a set number but I do believe that barring my winning MegaMillions or Powerball in the near future:D, I will probably be limited to 100 investment-graded bills.....a few dozen gold and silver bullion coins....and a dozen or so Saints.
    jamesicus, Paul M., Sallent and 2 others like this.
  14. 7Calbrey

    7Calbrey Well-Known Member

    Is there a limit to obsession ? If yes, then coin collecting has a limit.
  15. Wandering Man

    Wandering Man Member

    Gosh, I’ve only been at this for a couple of months, but I’ve already blown past 300 coins. However, I’ve not yet hit the “serious” collector mode. It looks more like a kids collection of coins found in my pockets, and found in bought rolls of coins from the bank. Almost everything is circulated.

    A limit will have to come eventually. But for now, I’m just looking over the landscape.
  16. savitale

    savitale Active Member

    No limit. But I tend to have very focused collections with a well defined number of coins. I’m still trying to figure out how to do that with ancients.
    Theodosius and jamesicus like this.
  17. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Three years ago, I told myself I would try to keep the number at the end of the year no higher than it was at the start. Currently I am very close to the break even point but I consigned a number of coins to Severus Alexander for his AMCC auction so I may be able to buy a few more new ones in upcoming months depending on how that goes. The selection process was painful and it struck me as pointless because I am not going to reduce the collection to 20, 200 or even 2000 so a hundred coins more or less is chump change. I have no plans of doing that again.

    I appear to be unusual in that I am firmly opposed to anyone buying coins with money they need for life as they define it. I have collected for 50 years using the money I could have spent on travel, fine dining and entertainment but not the kind of money that sent my daughter to college, bought a sequence of houses and cars or donated to a number of charities. I do not need the money represented by my collection to maintain life as I currently enjoy it so selling the coins I really love makes absolutely no sense to me. I have told my grandson that he is expected to create a computer game that can be sold (like Minecraft) for $2 billion if he wants crazy cash or to learn to live on his resources otherwise. He may sell my coins for a loss assuming my daughter (scheduled to retire in 9 years) has not already done so.

    I have had many friends in the hobby over the years and that number includes a couple who owned multiple coins over $100,000 each and more coins over $1000 than I have total coins. In each case, they were not spending living money (but they had a lot more crazy-cash than I did!). I prefer to enjoy my coins rather than worry constantly about their current or future market value. I once saw an interview with Warren Buffet who said his hobby was making money. That was what gave him pleasure. My hobby is having too many coins by your standards but a 'good' number by mine. In 30 years I will be 103....or not. I may feel differently then and wish I had asked Jamesicus for his man-purse (the bag, not the coins but I'll take them, too, if offered when he is done with them). Today, I can still lift my entire collection in two bags - one for each hand (the advantage of so many minors and so few aes grave). Maybe that should be my limit???
  18. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Oh, come on. That is part of the fun. I go through boxes and always find "new" coins I have no recollection of owning. It's like I bought it again for free!

    About 5 years ago I bought a nice AU pillar dollar, since I always wanted a nice one. A week later I was putting it away in the sdb and found 5 others, all XF-AU. So at least six times in my life I bought one because I always wanted one.

    So no, I have no limit. My family is taken care of, so I buy what I feel like regardless if I do not have a clue what I already own. It's my money and my hobby. :)
  19. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    I had about 600 coins before @lordmarcovan introduced me to the "box of 20" concept many years ago. I don't have a hard and fast rule of "no more than X" but it's a mentality of adding pieces cautiously and deliberately.

    I see myself having no more than 150 or so coins kn my primary collection (possibly less). I'm always reassessing to determine if particular coins fit my narrative and parameters.

    (That said, a side collection is exempt from this rigor - I'm slowly working on Nabataean coinage to keep me busy between main collection purchases)
  20. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    No limit. But I've recently tried to focus more on quality over quantity. I probably have somewhere around 250+, but much of it consists of low-grade coins bought in the early days of large lots. I can't bear to part with some of them because often I have a low-grade example of a reverse type that I only have one of. But my present collecting is a lot more intentional now.
    benhur767, jamesicus, Paul M. and 2 others like this.
  21. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    No limit here. The collection just keeps slowly growing year after year. I have noticed that my bank deposit box has grown considerably in weight since I recently began adding bronze coins. Perhaps like Doug, I should consider a weight limit. ;)
    benhur767, jamesicus, Paul M. and 8 others like this.
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