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user_80832's Blog

29 Jul 2019

Maybe I'm in the minority...

Collecting Tips | user_80832

After reading exhaustive amounts of articles and book chapters on coin collecting basics, what to look for, and how to be a "successful" collector, I have reached probably the most unpopular opinion in all of numismatics. According to most everything I've read, you're only a successful collector if you turn your collection over for profit. And to me, that makes you a dealer, not a collector.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't have any problem with collectors that buy and turn to make money to buy the next thing, but why does that have to be the benchmark for what makes you 'successful'? Can't buying what you like, regardless of potential financial gains, be considered successful?
If you've been hunting for a particular coin for a long time and you finally find one, that's a positive result. Positive results to me equal success. Starting at your new purchase and then poring over sales records for the next several years to track margins over your purchase price sounds like a job, not a hobby. Like I said from the start, unpopular opinion.
Think back to when you first started collecting things as a kid. Not necessarily coins, but if you started young, good for you. I mean collecting things because you thought they looked cool. I knew kids that collected bottle caps, buttons - the sew-on-your-clothes kind, rocks, bugs, the list goes on and on. Was that for profit, or because you enjoyed it? Just because we're all grown up doesn't automatically mean we have to be motivated by money. My grandfather was a lifelong mechanic, and he collected Studebaker cars/parts to build a completed car off his own. He didn't do it to try and sell it, he was motivated by his love of the car.
I collect coins because I enjoy looking at them, learning about them, and sharing them on social media platforms. I collect for the artwork struck on the surfaces and because I enjoy history. I like to learn about the person(s) on the coin, what was happening in the country at the time it was struck. If there are animals or designs present, what, if anything, do they represent? Obviously from those descriptions, I collect coins from all over the world, and I do it for the variety. I collect for the love of the coins, not for any profit I could raise from selling them. Believe me, there isn't a lot of profit to be made unless there is some precious metal content and they can be sold for melt. (Just as an aside, I also am slowly building a "no gold" US type set, and I love Peace Dollars.)
I consider myself a successful collector because I collect what I like, and I learn about what I collect. Each purchase still feels like an accomplishment. I see a coin that looks attractive in design and I purchase it. I don't worry what they've sold for in the past, and I don't worry what I might be able to sell it for in the future. I enjoy my collection in the now - now is when I'm collecting, now is when I'm learning, now is when I'm sharing knowledge and images with others. That to me is success.
Anyone that my end up reading this will probably think, 'you're a novice collector', 'you're naive to what the hobby is about', or 'you're just a world coin collector'. And that's part of the problem with adding new collectors to the hobby; the, for lack of a better term, snobbishness of "serious" collectors that have been doing this for years. I personally don't belong to a coin club because I feel like I would be ridiculed for what I enjoy collecting. I was bullied enough growing up, I would hope at 40 years old, I could get beyond that. Maybe I could end up being the group's world coin guy, but maybe the derision of not focusing solely on US coins for profit because I live in the US would drive me out first.
I went to my first ever coin show a couple weeks ago in Austin, Texas. It was a small show, but I enjoyed the experience. Unfortunately for me, I had one dealer that treated me as if I had spent to much time in his chair because I was looking at world silver, and as I sat back to check my phone for values on a coin I was considering, he said "thanks for coming by" as a way of chasing me off. I was looking at coins (not bullion) that he had listed at higher prices that some of his US items. The show was saved for me though, by another dealer from San Antonio, ANA Life member 6463 Patrick O'Connor. We had a nice conversation about pieces I was looking at on his table, and I made a couple purchases from him and his wife. All-in-all I guess it was a successful trip for my first show, but I was still left with a sour taste from that one interaction.
Am I a successful collector? I believe I am. I am able to find what I like, buy it, learn about it, and enjoy the time I've spent. I post photos for others to see and I share some of the knowledge I've learned along the way. I encourage other people to collect what they like, not just what will make them money. Am I a dealer? No. I haven't ever sold any of my collection. To me that's the big difference. The popular opinion is that to be considered a successful collector, you have to be able to transition into being a dealer and sell your collection. I didn't get into this hobby to be a dealer, to worry about making a profit. I got into it to collect information, and the coins are vessels for learning that information. I collect because I love coins. I collect because I love the art they contain and the information they unlock. I collect because I love to. It may be the unpopular reason, I may be labeled unsuccessful or naive or even 'just' a world collector, but the knowledge and enjoyment I gain make me successful in my own right.

Comments

Some of the earliest buying advice I was taught was but what you like. Yes, making a profit may be good thing, and is a career for some, a means of extra cash for others, but it shouldn't be the end goal of numismatics.

Mike

Level 7

Hi I written this blog before. What are you here for collect or deal. If you want to deal your in the wrong place. Any new comer I always give some suggestions. You collect what you want. Don't let anyone tell you what you like. You run your site your way. Collecting should be enjoyable. Those who have money to make money good for them. They have every right to buy what they want. It's the shows retailer's TV. shows who want you to buy the oldest and expensive. I have been very lucky I have written blogs on coins I collected as regular coins I like have gone up in price sometimes in the thousands. It's like playing the market. I saw a book a set I put together going for sale for 700.00. Dimes. Who would of thought. Sometimes you buy coins the seller doesn't know what it is but you do. You read the book and know the value. It's happened to Many of us. Auctions. Sometimes your low bid wins. So here my motto Never give up. Enjoy collecting. That's why we're here I have learned more in history by doing research. That's how we learn. So relax. Some day you will have a great collection. My kids will get mine. Take care

PastorK7354

Level 4

Collect what interests you, and enjoy what you collect! Blessings!

user_9073

Level 5

My thoughts on your topic: If my hobby was golf, I might have paid $100 in greens fees this past weekend and enjoyed it very much. No one would ask "Can you sell it for a profit!!!" As a matter of fact, ALL of the $100 is gone and I only have a memory. If coin collecting is my hobby, I might have bought a coin for $100 and enjoyed it very much. Maybe I will sell it next weekend for $50. Then I would have $50 AND a memory of the coin. It seems to me that coin collecting comes out $50 ahead!!!!!

Longstrider

Level 6

Welcome. You are in the right place here. I feel you are a collector. You buy what you like and research what you buy. Those books are wrong. If you want to be an investor, follow those books. Not collecting. Carry on the way you are going and you will be fine. I have a couple of "investment" coins but they are in the minority. Just ran across good deals. You will learn all the "rules' of shows and such as you go. Don't worry about a rude guy. Most dealers love to share their knowledge. Good luck.

Prodigy Coins

Level 4

Great blog. Collect what you want. Don’t let yourself be influenced by others’ opinions. Although I mainly collect US type coins, I stray to world coins for variety every once in a while. Thanks for the blog.

World_Coin_Nut

Level 5

When I was young the local dealers tried to discourage me from collecting world coins, now that is all that I collect. I have never had more fun as a collector as I have since I made the switch. We are each our own purpose with our own likes and dislikes. Collect what you like and you will always get joy out of your collection.

Mike

Level 7

Hi first we have a rule here collect what you want. You don't have to listen to anyone but yourself. . It's your collection your free to do what ever you want. If you want to sell that's fine. Many members sell on ebay. Something catches your eye and you like it buy it. You make the choice sell and collect or just do one or the other. It's your collection. I was putting a set of rare 224 year old set of tokens. All MS. So you know some said don't bother you will never do it. I do what I want. Took five years and NGC put my name on the label. They had no idea of value of this set. They still dont. I had people here looking they didn't find any but they helped me the same.Listen to yourself. No one else. You want to sell , sell. My collection is going to my kids they can sell it all but that one set. Stays in the family. So you enjoy this hobby and you make your decisions. Take care and have a good time. Pat

"SUN"

Level 6

Good blog. I always believe if you want to check prices and references, you step away the dealers table.

It's Mokie

Level 6

I agree with you, it seems like every how-to-be-a-coin -collector book or article emphasizes the need to make the purchases based on their future potential for profit. I think most of us are happy to see a coin we bought years ago, appreciate in value. But that is not the reason I collect, I collect because it gives me uncountable hours of enjoyment and dovetails perfectly with my love of History and Geography. Regarding dealers at shows, like Gary pointed out, they are business people and need to ensure a profit whenever they attend a show, whether it is local, and they get to go home every evening, or distant, and they have additional transportation, lodging, and food expenses to consider on top of the table fees. We collectors have to be mindful of that fact and ensure we are not causing loss of business with overlong conversation or table hogging. There are always going to be a couple of AHole sellers and customers out there, luckily they are in the very small minority.

coinsbygary

Level 5

I agree with much of what you say especially that NO-ONE for any reason should belittle you for what you choose to collect and how much you spend on it. I to have felt rushed at a dealers table and at the time it seems like you are put off in favor of someone else who may or may not have deeper pockets than yours. It is times like these that I need to step back and perhaps put myself in the other guys shoes for a moment. This starts with everyone realizing that dealers need collectors and collectors need dealers. Dealers make a living from selling coins in the same way we do from our employers. At a coin show before the dealer turns the first penny of profit, he or she must pay the expense of transportation and a table fee and this without considering how much time it takes to prepare for the show. Depending if the dealer has a thin profit margin because of market conditions they have to sell a lot of coins just to break even. Of necessity this means that the dealers time with each customer has to be divvied up according to the time they have to sell coins. That said there is no room for being rude for collector and dealer alike. Most shows have what they call table etiquette rules for the dealers and the customers that if followed will make the show enjoyable for all the parties involved

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