"This Dying Hobby"

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

  1. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

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  3. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Fun write up @Suarez! And great points both on the amazing amount of avenues of entertainment at our disposal in this day and age and utilizing eBay data to show how the hobby stands.
    As a hard core boxing fan/aficionado (I used to train and mentor youths and had a radio show and podcast for just over a decade), I am used to gloomsday predictions on my favorite pastimes. I remember all of my MMA buddies talking about, boxing is dead, just look at the UFCs US #s. And then Pacqiuao vs Mayweather broke the PPV record by a ton (thanks to worldwide appeal).
    eBay is just one avenue to purchasing ancients (one I rarely use anymore... Fool me once) and the data shows a gradual tapering over a very small amount of time, relatively. Unfortunately for my collecting, as a young (ish) man, the auction house are still booming and no one is throwing their ancients out into the street.
    I am with @Mat on this one. The ancient coin market is still plenty healthy. Though, I do look forward to a world sans "hard" cash.
    To keep it legal here is a recent purchase from around the lifetime of Alexander the great that I have collected a mere 2,300 years later:
  4. ewomack

    ewomack Senior Member Supporter

    The focus of that piece seems to be ancient coins, but a good portion of it probably applies to other coin markets as well. The point about different ways of living today really expresses where the fault lines may simmer. People simply have more compelling (or, they at least find them more compelling, it's hard to argue with someone over what they find compelling) things to do these days. They don't have hours sitting alone, staring out the window because constant stimulation is omnipresent. For many people, coins can't compete with this. They just sit there. If this turns out true, then no amount of giving coins to kids or promoting the hobby, etc., is going to help. Actually, old people promoting the hobby to young people may end up hurting it. In many cases, teenagers especially want nothing to do with anything associated with "old people" or even "adults." Younger kids, prior to peer pressure, for the most part don't care. This might be another factor in "teenage fallout" from the hobby. It's just not cool enough for many people at that age.

    In any case, I'm not worried about "saving" the hobby. There are far more important things to worry about. I just enjoy what experience I have with it and that's all I need. If other people don't enjoy it, that's their business.
  5. Ken Dorney

    Ken Dorney Yea, I'm Cool That Way...

    I think it entirely depends on precisely what one is talking about. Obviously some people are enamored with Ebay, but its just one very small place where coins are sold (yes, small. It really is). The topic is just too convoluted to make an assessment on the overall health of the hobby. There are too may segments we can divide it up into and as such one would have to delve into different aspects, like 12 Caesars, Greek gold, Byzantine silver, etc.

    Since Ras mentioned uncleaned coins is his post I'll offer my opinion. Ebay is just about the only place they ever sold. Prior to that they were not typically bought, sold or collected (though it is true some dealers would sell them in the back of magazines in ads, 100 coins for $4.99 shipped). After all, they are 99.9999% garbage and few can or would ever love them. Until Ebay came about of course and then things changed, but so do peoples tastes. And collectors evolve as well.

    Some of my observations: Personally as a dealer this has been my best year out of the last 31. But it has also been my worst year for coin shows. Again, two segments of the market and two measurements. I see that auctions are very hot right now, with most coins selling overall strongly.

    I dont see it as a dying hobby, but I think staying the course overall. Though I will say I think there have been some downwards trends in pricing.
  6. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    The only thing constant in life is change. Hobbies may seem to die but they are more likely to change so the casual observer they are hard to recognize. When I was a kid, many kids collected coins out of circulation. Today, kids see nothing wrong wit paying $100 for a nickel and another $50 to have someone grade it. The hobby as Ras knows it may die. So did the dinosaurs making room for new life forms. My fear is that someone will melt all the aurei rather than just packing them away in the attic waiting to be discovered by generations yet unborn that don't agree with their grandparents who would rather play video games. Perhaps some will 'discover' history and coins.
  7. Santinidollar

    Santinidollar Supporter! Supporter

    Interesting article but this hobby has been “dying” for decades. Seems to be truckin’ along well for an old fellow.
  8. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    I think the ancient coin hobby is fine and if it isn’t I’ll buy up all the cheaper ancient coins during the death spiral :woot:. There are more avenues available to purchase ancient coins than ever before thanks to the internet. I also don’t think the move to a cashless society will have as much of an effect on ancient coins. People who collect ancient coins are probably almost as likely to migrate to ancient coins from collecting antiques like old signs or something as they are to start from collecting wheat pennies.

    Many on here will vehemently disagree with me but instead of considering eBay to be a mark of the hobby’s health I consider it more of a leach on the integrity of the hobby. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent IDing obviously fake coins being sold as authentic and flagging them to eBay only to see almost all of them continue to sell from sellers whose negative feedback is quickly removed for some technicality or the other. Try the same exercise with fake Rolex watches or Luis Vuitton purses and you will see how quickly those items get addressed. That is why eBay is the first and last resort of the forger. It would be better if eBay stopped selling ancient coins all together IMO (or at the very least just take a more active interest in enforcing authenticity standards).

    My guess is that our hobby is more likely to die from cultural property laws than it is from lack of interest.

    Here is a random ancient coin and a modern one as well for good measure.
  9. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Gahh, I perish the thought. Then I would have to go to other auction websites and pay the high buyers fees, much high shipping, & worry if it even gets shipped.

  10. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    I can understand this sentiment and in theory eBay is great. In practice it is a wide open gate for forgers to hawk their wares. Even if collectors donate their time for free to flag the bad actors it seems like little is done. As you were responding to this I was actually already adding a qualifier that if eBay would just take even a baseline interest in enforcing standards then that would be better. Though I still don’t like how negative feedback is handled...
    Paul M. likes this.
  11. panzerman

    panzerman Well-Known Member

    I would say the hobby is alive and well. It used to be the collecting pursuit of the nobility, business tycoons, lawyers, doctors, movie stars. At the present day, even ordinary guys like myself can afford to build modest collections. Now with the new middle classes in China/ India/ Russia etc. we will add thousands of "new" collectors. But then, look at how the prices have gone up in past ten years.

    Of course, everyday I see "millenials" walking around like zombies glued to their smartphoneo_O In my world, its way nicer to have a nice "67 bigblock Corvette roadster", and a nice coin collection.:happy: IMG_0696.JPG IMG_0698.JPG
  12. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Well-Known Member

    As a new and "low end" collector eBay is a place to avoid Buyer's Fees and expensive shipping while having a huge variety of coins to choose from. I have followed advice and only purchased from sellers who offer unconditional returns. I have been "burnt" with a few fakes - but have always received my money back.. I really do wish that "recommended" eBay sellers were discussed and shared here to help new collectors navigate the minefield.
    I have also had a very difficult experience on a more "reputable" auction platform - buying from a VCoins dealer... That was a very sad situation for me and sort of shook my faith in the hobby (although I did get my $$ back).
    While these are all lessons learned... I believe the biggest threat to the hobby is not lack of new collectors - but fakes and altered coins that will turn many potential collectors away and end their interest.
    Paul M. and Theodosius like this.
  13. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    Shrinking, maybe. Sure. Dying? I don't think so.
    Nicholas Molinari likes this.
  14. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    We used to use the term 'School of Hard Knocks' for things learned in life. eBay serves a good purpose providing education that everyone needs to acquire one way or the other. There are many good coins and good sellers on eBay but is up to each of us to figure out which ones they are and which are selling fakes or overpriced garbage (which I consider as detrimental to the hobby as are the fakes). The fact is that no one working for eBay is going to help you with the fakes and they prefer that you pay too much for things you buy since it increases their cut. At least eBay does police, to some degree, things like slow or non-shipment and supports returns of bad items. The community of high end dealers has not come down on the bad actors in their group so you are required to decide which firm is worth your Buyers' Fees and high prices.

    I agree that one way beginners can be helped would be for us to discuss good sources but it seems a certain percentage of them are out looking for what Jamesicus called 'Free Lunch' (Ain't no such....) and despite our efforts will start their collection with a fake Didius and a worn slick overpriced Otho. Some will learn; some will go away badmouthing the hobby as a whole when the problem was their greed and stupidity. Perhaps this education will serve them in their future endeavors. Actually, in addition to there being no Free Lunch there is no Free Education either. We try to give free help here on CT but the easiest way to learn a stove is hot will result in some blistered fingers. Modern tendencies trend toward protecting everyone from everything and making hot stoves illegal unless marked 'May be hot!' Seventy years ago, children were told, "That was a stupid thing to do!" when they learned a lesson the hard way. At least they learned.

    Our pastor was explaining in the Children's Sermon how God comforts His children in times of hurt just like a Father and Mother does. She asked if anyone could give an example. A little girl said, "My mom just says to suck it up." Shocked, the pastor asked another girl who replied, "Both of my parents are doctors and they say if it isn't bleeding it isn't hurt." Pastor learned something about children that day.
    Marsyas Mike, lrbguy and lordmarcovan like this.
  15. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Suarez makes some solid points in his article This Dying Hobby. One segment of the hobby that's really in trouble is modern machine struck coinage. The over commercialization of these coins enhanced by 3rd party grading companies compiling census reports doesn't help matters either. If modern coins aren't slabbed there isn't a market for them :(. Expensive modern coins really need to be slabbed because the fake coin market is growing by leaps & bounds. Herein lies the dichotomy, if you don't slab them they don't sell & if you do slab them you make them more expensive :mad:. This phenomenon is a good thing for ancient coin collectors because many collectors are switching from modern to ancient coins. The ancient coin market hasn't been exploited like modern coins have, not yet anyway :smuggrin:.
    Terrifrompa and panzerman like this.
  16. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper Supporter

    I guess it was time for the monthly "The hobby is dying" thread on Cointalk. Even if it was, which I don't think it is, it still wouldn't keep me from enjoying the hobby. I collect coins because it's enjoyable for me. Who cares what others think.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  17. Andrew McCabe

    Andrew McCabe Well-Known Member

    I am not aware of any good eBay sellers who do not also sell on other mainstream platforms (in which case, use those other mainstream platforms). I check eBay every few months. It's probably five years since I bought a coin there. The best form of eBay navigation I could recommend for the inexperienced collector is to navigate to the account settings and delete your eBay account. Of course there are many inexpensive low end bargains on that platform but they require expertise to assess, and if one isn't sure what you are buying then just stay away.

    One point about the mainstream plaforms such as VCoins, MA, auctioneers on Numisbids etc, is that you do get your money back, and there's a generally reputable process. Naturally there'll be an occasional bad experience even at the best dealers, but they'll likely deal with it professionally which is what you want.
    Curtisimo likes this.
  18. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    I believe there are 2 major risks for the hobby:

    1. The greediness of auctioneers who have increased their combined buyer's/seller's fees to 35%-40% so the risk is that people are hesitating to re-sell their coins out of fear for such a loss. If the old houses in the 70's made it possible with half of that percentage and without having digital photography nor easy ways to publish, which are the increased costs of the modern houses that justify such fees?

    2. The greediness of a handful of collectors who swipe the auctions and won't let a small piece of meat to fall off the table to feed the dogs (including myself).
    Terrifrompa and Paul M. like this.
  19. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Well-Known Member

    If we are getting our points across through parable....

    Two men went up into the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this: 'God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, sinners and more or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn't even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  20. jamesicus

    jamesicus Supporter! Supporter


    (There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch)
    Sulla80 likes this.
  21. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Or “Nulla Mensa sine impensa”
    Sulla80 and Magnus87 like this.
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