The Most Important Thing I Have Learned About Collecting

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by CamaroDMD, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. CamaroDMD

    CamaroDMD Supporter! Supporter

    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.”
    mark_h and Coinman1974 like this.
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  3. green18

    green18 Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    Great article Richie. I enjoyed reading your 'journey'. I think we all go through this....I, myself, am at a transitional stage in my collecting endeavor. I've sold off many of my earlier holdings in order to concentrate more on my commemorative passions. I believe that anybody who is really serious about collecting begins to 'specialize' in their collecting career. Much like you Doctor......congratulations on achieving that designation. :)
  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Nice write up. I have become that way with ancients. I try and buy what best my budget for X type can afford, sometimes it has required me to wait, as my top 10 thread I am doing in the ancient forum shows.

    Now for U.S., sad to say but some of those fillers I am happy to own. I dont have the passion to build my u.s. type set if the AU grades I would have liked to do when I got back into collecting in 08. Most of the fillers are for types that are very pricey problem free....draped bust coinage for one.

    I draw the line at holed pieces though >(
  5. bkozak33

    bkozak33 Collector

    I understand what your saying. I have nice ms examples of coins. I'm also doing sets of lincolns, buffalo nickels and indian cents. My lincolns are fine or vf, indian cents im going for vf, and buffalo im going for full original dates. I know these arent the most desirable grades but I dont see anything wrong collecting less dsirables. I also did a full set of jeffersons out of circulation. you dont need the best coins to have fun.
    ck1of2 likes this.
  6. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Indeed, getting an AU58 details *obverse dipped* trade dollar was a big deal to me. I had always wanted one as a kid and when one was offered at a good price here from a fellow CT poster/dealer, I jumped on it. I still enjoy that coin, same with a Rarity 5 half dime with a toned scratch, R3 draped large cent thats the worse looking coin I own but has fine details.

    Thats why I enjoy coins, they are available for all budgets. So long as you enjoy the coin/s, who cares if someone else online or in-person poo poos the coin cause it isnt up to "their standards".
    ck1of2 likes this.
  7. icerain

    icerain Mastir spellyr Supporter

    Nice post, I too started with sports cards (baseball) and moved on to many other hobbies. My coin collecting is still new and I'm still learning.

    But I think that many collectors should look at whats out there and determine what kind of collection they want. And its always ok to get sidetracked once in awhile as it increases variety in a collection. But at the end of the day its really what make the collector happy. If buying low grade coins are their thing and it makes them happy, then they should stick to it.
  8. brg5658

    brg5658 The Horse Coin Guy

    Nice write-up. Only in coin collecting would "27 years old" be considered young! LOL

    I'm 33, and when I go to coin shows I'm still usually the youngest person there by a generation.
    ck1of2 likes this.
  9. tmoneyeagles

    tmoneyeagles Indian Buffalo Gatherer

    I've done the same thing, going between the sports cards and the coins, and your old collecting habits were very similar to my old collecting habits.

    Come to think of it we've also been agreeing a lot lately...

    And I've always been interested in denti-...OH GOD! :eek:

    Just kidding. Great write-up Richie!
  10. Pacecar

    Pacecar Well-Known Member

    It's a good thing you're not into collecting Camaros Doc, that will get pricey real quick.;) Boy how I would love to have the COPO that's here at a local classic car dealership. It's only $249,000 and lives in a bubble.:)
  11. CamaroDMD

    CamaroDMD Supporter! Supporter

    Who's to say I'm not. I've owned 5 Camaro's and I currently own two...a 1969 with a big block and a rare 2002 collector's edition. :cool:
  12. CamaroDMD

    CamaroDMD Supporter! Supporter

    That's fine...but I think a collector should define their collection and buy the right coins for it. Not simply fill all the holes. For example, I am considering starting a WL half collection. I'm thinking of doing the whole thing in VG. Low grade, but that's what I want. But, I want to find nice and attractive examples. Not just get the first VGs that come along.
  13. Pacecar

    Pacecar Well-Known Member

    I figured you were into Camaros.:) I will own a first gen before I leave this earth.:) I currently own a Indy Pacecar, hence the username. I need to go back through the motor, though, before I take her back to the track. Is your 02 a 35th Anniversary?(I know they all are, I mean the red with the checkerboard stripes) Would love to see some pics.

    Back on topic.....

    I do agree that just filling a hole is not a good thing( I am guilty), as I ended up going back later and spending even more to upgrade when I could've saved money by being patient and finding the coin I really wanted. It's just so gosh-dawg hard to be patient sometimes.:) Thankfully they weren't high dollar coins and I do have an outlet to get most, if not all, of my money back through our auction house.
  14. i collect coins only as a hobby.
    Ive only bought one coin that i paid 100 dollars for and ill never buy another.
    For me the fun is finding a coin in change or metal detecting.
    Sometimes i find them in old homes that are beyond repair.
    When i bought my first coin i felt that i had stopped my hobby and had strated an investment.
    More times than once i have read on this form that you shouldnt collect coins as an investment but when you are buying top
    dollar coins are you not investing in coins for reason of resale in the future.
    For me it takes all the fun out of the hobby and soon you have money invested in coins that you could use for
    family things.
    Just the way i see it and i always say to each his own.
    Maybe if you like to spend cash and show off your buys here on coin talk then you could call it a hobby
    bdunnse likes this.
  15. scottishmoney

    scottishmoney Bammed

    I don't believe there are many serious collectors around that don't have the WWIT scenario played out when they look at their early acquisitions. I believe that in the long run that is what makes you a pro, sticking to it despite the early mistakes. Sticking to it despite even more recent mistakes makes you even better. I look at coins and paper money I bought back when I was in high school and do have those WWIT moments, but in contrast I have a couple of purchases from that time that are very rare and I was in the right place at the right time with the right amount of money.
  16. eddiespin

    eddiespin Fast Eddie

    Here's one just for you, doc. It's one of my finds while I was still in academia, as well (like, grammar school :D). Enjoy. :)

    Attached Files:

  17. BadThad

    BadThad Calibrated for Lincolns

    I said it for years: QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
  18. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    One thing to remember - some people are content with just filling the holes. And there's nothing wrong with that. Not my cup of tea, but if it works for them, more power to 'em ;)
  19. protovdo

    protovdo Resident Whippersnapper

    Collecting, like many other things in life, is a maturity process.

    You and I are the same age, and I also went through this transition. A transition from quantity to quality. I finished my MBA in December, so most of my play money is being alotted towards student loans, but I still get the opportunity to pick un nice peices.

    I've actually started liquidating my average pieces. By doing this I have cut my collection in 1/3.
  20. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Er, like much in life "it depends". ;)

    Since you are writing this under coin chat and not under US coins, I feel free to talk about non-US coins. I agree more with these comments if you are talking about a series like US coins where most everything is available.

    I have many coins which I may not see another like it for a few years in any grade. I also am confronted with civilizations and areas where there are thousands of types. I guess in my perspective getting some vg-f's to represent coins I do not own there is no problem with.

    Its fine and good to try to only collect high grade, if that is your thing. However, I will never say any rare coin is not "collectible", and there is always someone who would like to own it. I have said it before, my favorite ancient coin is only a VG, and I love it to death.
  21. CamaroDMD

    CamaroDMD Supporter! Supporter

    I agree that it depends. Certainly, in any field there are certain pieces that simply can't be found. On the rare occasions you track one down...any example is great.

    I guess what I am mostly talking about is how I was always looking to find the next piece. I didn't care what it looked like or it's condition...I had no guidelines or goals other than simply completing sets. Had I had a little more self control, I think I would have assembled a much finer collection. I think that is my point. I'm not talking about super rare coins that only come up once every few years. I'm talking about being selective and finding the right coin for obtainable coins

    It doesn't have to be high grade either. For example, I mentioned at some point that I was interested in putting together a WL Half Dollar set...probably in the VG range. IMHO, those coins are very attractive circulated. However, one VG is not the same as another. I'm not going to grab the first VG that comes along for each date. I'm going to find coins that I really like to complete that set. It takes a little longer, but I think in the end you have a much nicer result.
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