Author Topic: Advancing as a collector  (Read 7640 times)

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Offline Prosit

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Advancing as a collector
« on: July 27, 2009, 02:34:39 AM »
When I was much younger, I collected coins, and after I had acquired them, I took them out regularly (daily) to admire them.  I admired the design mostly and spent much of my time looking for better examples and other designs that I admired and had not yet acquired.  Also, I was attracted to the history and used the coin as a launching platform to explore and learn about the history of the coin's time.  I spent a lot of time at the public library  ;)  Also, I was possessed with the desire to get every example from every year of that issue for that series.  Who might have used it and what was happening when it was minted was important to me as well.

Who might have used it and what was happening when it was minted is still important to me. I still get excited when I find a coin I am looking for.  However, now, I do not take them out and admire them after I have acquired them. Many of the items I have collected, I have never looked at again and I no longer feel a compelling need to get every example from every year although old habits are hard to break.

Examining my current collecting motives, I find they have changed considerably.

I am seriously considering selling out and starting over.  I know I am likely to take a loss on some (many) of them, but new areas to explore, and the funds to explore them is attractive and maybe I might be a bit more selective this time.  It might make a big difference to my heirs too  ;)

So what kind of collector are you?  Have your collecting habits changed over the years?  Do you:
Collect by series?
Collect by theme?
Like the art/design?
Collect by type?
Collect by country?
Collect by time period?
Like the history?
Like the prestige of owning a rare coin?
Have a "completion" bug?
All of the above?

I need to seriously address these question for my own sake over the next few months.
Actually, it is very refreshing thinking about it   ;)  Get rid of old baggage and habits.  If I consider my collection, only 15-20 items out of probably 5000 come to mind that I would not part with.  That might make a very good core to start with anew  ;D

Dale

« Last Edit: August 09, 2009, 06:19:25 PM by Figleaf »

BC Numismatics

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Re: Advancing as a collector
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2009, 06:16:31 AM »
Dale,
  I'm a specialist collector.

As I live in a British Commonwealth country (New Zealand),I specialise only in the banknotes,coins,postal orders,& traders' currency tokens from across the British Empire & the British Commonwealth.

I did use to try & collect coins from as many countries as possible,but it proved to be too hard & pretty difficult to store.

I sold my non-British Commonwealth banknotes & coins,so I bought my computer with the money.

Aidan.

Galapagos

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Re: Advancing as a collector
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2009, 01:31:05 PM »
As a very young child in the early 1960s, I was fascinated by the variety of our UK circulation coins. There were still pennies and halfpennies to be found from Queen Victoria's time: both bun head and "mourning" head, and even more denominations from the monarchs afterwards. I remember being impressed that my dad was able to explain to me the mysteries of the "FID DEF" and other Latin inscriptions, and why the "IND IMP" legend disappeared after 1947. As for our shillings, there were both "Scottish" and "English" variations in circulation

Then there were the differences in reverse designs: the George VI brass threepence showed a thrift plant, but this was replaced by a portcullis on QEII's threepences. My favourite design of these times was the Golden Hind on the reverse of the QEII ha'penny - halfpennies from some prior reigns showed Britannia instead. Another favourite was the wren farthing - all children love animals, of course. These had actually been withdrawn from circulation when I was only two, so I had no memory of using them, but plenty of households still retained a few.

Between the ages of five and seven I was given various foreign coins by uncles who travelled about in the military. This opened my eyes to the fact that there was a world beyond Britain. I was particularly fascinated by the Irish "barnyard" series coins. Here was a country that used a similar system to ours - their pennies and halfpennies were of the same specifications as ours, yet portrayed farmyard animals, and yet their threepence was round and nickel instead of twelve-sided and brass. Being a child, I was delighted by these designs (and still am!), and I also had the sense that an alternative reality lay across the sea - similar but different. Up until the age of seven, on visits to the seaside I would try my best to see across the other side of the sea in order to glimpse Ireland. Living in Newcastle upon Tyne, I would actually have seen Esbjerg in Denmark, had I been able to see all those miles across the curve of the Earth.

From the age of 11 onwards I had occasional trips to the continent and was pleased to bring coins back from France, Belgium and the Netherlands. From the age of 18, I took myself off an series of youth hostelling trips to France, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Luxemburg, etc. and these trips were often planned with the aim of bringing back sets I lacked. In France in 1979 I was able to pick up the new style 2 francs, and in 1980 or 1981 in Switzerland one of the smaller denominations of coins had morphed from cupro-nickel to a kind of brass, so I was able to pick that up too. In 1978 in Norway, I found their old animal designs were still in circulation, so I was pleased to have acquired another wildlife set.

Offline Prosit

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Re: Advancing as a collector
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2009, 01:54:27 PM »
When I was 7 or 8 the coins that facinated me were the US "Merc" dime, buffalo Nickel, standing liberty quarter dollar, walking liberty half dollar, Peace and Morgan dollar and Indian head cents.  Funny (odd) to think about those series...I have never seriously pursued them as an adult.

I didn't become aware that anything real existed outside the US until much later  ;D

Dale

Galapagos

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Re: Advancing as a collector
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2009, 02:01:15 PM »
From 1979, I entered a new phase of coin collecting. Anomalously, the pre-decimal sixpence still circulated and was accepted as two-and-a-half decimal pence. It had been saved by the public's affection for it, but by 1979 that affection no longer existed, and the government announced it ws to be demonetised from 1980. As a university student by this time, this sparked my interest, so I made sure to retain a few of the variations of the sixpences still in circulation.

After that, I discovered the now defunct "Coin Monthly" magazine, and was surprised to see adverts for sets from exotic sounding places such as the Cayman Islands and Papua New Guinea. For my birthday that year, my parents bought me Krause-Mishler's "Standard Catalog of World Coins", so I was able to see illustrations of these exotic designs. I was stunned by the beauty of many of the wildlife designs, and this recalled my childhood enthusiasm for wren farthing and the Irish barnyard series. Yet another surprise was to see how many of these coins carried QEII's effigy on their obverse, so there was a connection with my home country and another theme for me to collect. As an impecunious student, I now nervously set about ordering some of these sets from mail order coin dealers for the first time, worried that I might be scammed - though I never was.

My first aim was to collect all the current beautiful circulation wildlife designs I could get my hands on. After that, in the 1990s, my attention turned to pre-decimal Commonwealth/Empire coins of QEII and GVI's reigns, but whose designs may or may not have included realistic wildlife themes: Ceylon (GVI and one QEII design), Cyprus (GVI), India (GVI) and Malaya (GVI and QEII) largely didn't; Southern Rhodesia, Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Mauritius, Australia, New Zealand, etc., did include some (remember, I am talking *pre-decimal* coins here, though I also collected the *current* decimal coins of these states or their successor states). In the 1980s I went to a lot of coin fairs, but that petered out as I gathered up most of my "wants".

I also collected some wartime issues, such as the Nazi Germany set, the Fascist Italy set, the Slovakian "clerical-fascist" set, the Fascist-Occupied Albania set, plus some odds and ends from Vichy France and wartime Serbia and Croatia. I also have some superb designs from 1920s and 1930s Danzig, and just wish I could afford to own Danzig's highest denominations.

By the beginning of the 1990s, I had  purchased virtually all the historical stuff I wanted, but by now communism had collapsed and attractive new sets were emerging from Croatia, Slovakia, Macedonia, Russia, etc.

You'll see from my posts that I'm mainly interested in modern thematic, representational designs on circulation coins (wildlife, ships, architecture), but I do deviate from that and occasionally buy "trinkets", as I call them, (medal coins, pseudo-coins, tokens), if their designs interest me.

Galapagos

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Re: Advancing as a collector
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2009, 02:08:31 PM »
When I was 7 or 8 the coins that facinated me were the US "Merc" dime, buffalo Nickel, standing liberty quarter dollar, walking liberty half dollar, Peace and Morgan dollar and Indian head cents. 

It was the variety of coins in circulation that similarly grabbed my attention as a child in England. However, all that variety was swept away as the decimal system took hold, though shillings and florins, which circulated as 5p and 10p equivalents, were not got rid of until 1990 and 1992 respectively. By contrast, you in the US have not experienced such a numismatic revolution. What are the oldest varieties of coins you are now likely to find in circulation in the US? Any of the ones that fascinated you as a child?

Offline a3v1

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Re: Advancing as a collector
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2009, 02:47:35 PM »
Same here !! Born in 1941, I grew up in a transitional period of Dutch coins. Wartime-issued zinc coins still circulated widely, pre-war silver and bronze coins popped up again in masses, while newly-issued nickel and bronze coins started to circulate. It was an interesting time for a young boy starting to develop an interest in collecting coins. ;D An interest that never has faded since.

When in the late 90s the news broke that Europe would issue a common coin soon, I decided that the Euro in all its manifestations would be my main interest from then on.
Regards,
a3v1
Over half a century of experience as a coin collector.
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Money is like body fat: If there's too much of it, it always is in the wrong places.

Offline Prosit

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Re: Advancing as a collector
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2009, 02:58:57 PM »
..... What are the oldest varieties of coins you are now likely to find in circulation in the US? Any of the ones that fascinated you as a child?

None of the coins I was interested in as a child still circulate and haven't since about 1964.  IThe change away from silver drove all the older stuff out.  In the US nothing old or odd is now encountered in circulation except the ocassional Canadian cent or some other souvinir of someone's travels but those are not truly in circulation...they got in some till by accident   ;) probably.  In the Jefferson Nickels series, you can still find coins in circulation from the 50's and ocassionally earlier.

Dale

Austrokiwi

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Re: Advancing as a collector
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2009, 03:14:51 PM »
I started out as an eclectic collector...........focusing first on sovereigns............however I then discovered numismatics and then the eccentric interest of Re strike Maria Theresa talers.  Currently my interest is not just on filling gaps in my collection but in filling in blanks in the knowledge of this coin. Currently my latest track is to identify minting method to variety....... for me that a huge challenge.

Offline chrisild

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Re: Advancing as a collector
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2009, 03:15:09 PM »
As a kid I found it interesting that some of our older German coins did not say "Bundesrepublik Deutschland" (the country name) but "Bank Deutscher Länder". Learned that this was the Bundesbank's precursor (well, I probably did not really understand that as a boy, but so what), and then tried to find nice shiny pieces from that time, basically 1949. Also at roughly that age I was amazed that there are people, not too far from "home", who not only speak differently but also have different coins. So I wanted those (gulden and cent pieces) too. A little later my collection then focused on easily affordable pieces from here (Federal Republic) and the neighbors, mostly Austria, GDR, Netherlands, Switzerland.

As for the euro, for a long time I kept a gas station receipt dated 1-Jan-1999. That was the first day of the euro, and the receipt was in DM but also showed the amount in €. Oooh, how exciting! :) Unfortunately it took a long time until, in mid-December 2001, I got my first euro coins - a starter kit that I picked up in Rome. That is also the focus of my collection these days - euro coins, primarily the circulation and commemorative coins, by type. Don't care too much about regional collector coins, but if there is an interesting theme or design ...

I also have quite a few modern US coins (because I travel there fairly often), and pieces from the UK (again, modern stuff). Admittedly I do not care a lot about what happens with my collection when I am dead - it is my hobby, not really an investment. :)

Christian
« Last Edit: July 27, 2009, 03:52:42 PM by chrisild »

Galapagos

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Re: Advancing as a collector
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2009, 05:16:45 PM »
As a kid I found it interesting that some of our older German coins did not say "Bundesrepublik Deutschland" (the country name) but "Bank Deutscher Länder"....

Also at roughly that age I was amazed that there are people, not too far from "home", who not only speak differently but also have different coins.

I too noticed the different legends when in Germany. Didn't one 50 Pfennig type have a milled edge whilst the other was smooth?

Seems that for you too, coins opened your eyes at a young age to fact that there were countries and people beyond your own.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Advancing as a collector
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2009, 05:22:18 PM »
I started out like most collectors: modern coins of my own country. My big chance was the government deciding to give people one more chance to change their pre-war silver for copper-nickel coins. I posted in post offices, intercepted quite a few silver coins and I suddenly had a collection going back to the 1870's. Expanding on that was difficult, so I got bored and started a British Commonwealth collection, since I liked the long series of similar heads with different reverses. That area was thoroughly poisoned and my interest burnt to the ground by the pseudo coins of the likes of the Franklin Mint, Pobjoy Mint and many, many others. Euro coins made my interest flare up for a short while, but the euro mints tried their best to beat that out of me also with their pseudo issues. Well, on average they were at least better designed than the irritating sugar coated Norman Rockwell style of the Franklin Mint.

What brought me back were detectorist sites. People found coins in the ground they could not identify and I could. It made both parties happy. Today, I no longer collect any theme within coins, but I buy what I appreciate (mostly the bizarre, the seldom encountered, the spurned and those pesky little holes in earlier collections) and trade duplicates for anything traders have to offer.

Among the things I've learned along the way (in no particular order):

- coin collecting is no fun until you decide yourself what coins you want. You never need a coin.
- completeness is an illusion
- it is not necessary to own a coin in order to study one
- most of the fun is not the purchase, but discovering all there is to discover about a coin
- you learn more from a high-resolution picture all over your screen than from a coin on your desk
- coin collecting is a community thing
- time I enjoy wasting is not wasted time
- coins depend on people and events that are at least as important to know about as coins
- there are coin-like objects that can be much more interesting than coins
- there are coin-like objects that can be much less interesting than coins
- coins lie, catalogues lie - finding the truth is important

and above all:

- never judge what someone else collects and don't accept such judgements from others

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Bimat

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Re: Advancing as a collector
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2009, 06:53:50 PM »
When I started collecting coins,I used to collect only Indian coins as I didn't know how and where to get other world coins.On one of my B'day,one of my cousin brother gave me his small collection of coins as b'day gift which had some foreign coins.All were common,but I was extremely excited at that time! Later,my aunt also gave some foreign coins,majority of which were German mark/pfennig coins and a few U.S. and African coins.
But I seriously started collecting coins about 2 years ago.My main intention was to get at least one coin from each country.Initially,it was not so difficult.I was able to get them for a good price.But as I crossed 150,it became little frustrating.Then I decided to collect by theme.I was highly fascinated by bimetallic coins,so I decided to collect bimetallic coins with preference.My bimetallic collection has developed decently since then and I'm proud of it :)
Started swapping with collectors from other countries about year ago,and got some really good friends.(Most of my 1 and 2 Euro coins from them.)
And besides bimetallic coins,I do collect easy to find/affordable FAO coins and coins with animals on them.Fortunately,I was never involved in pseudo coins.
And I have never asked my parents to give me 'extra' money to buy coins.I just save some part of my pocket money for coins.That is another fun ;)

Aditya
« Last Edit: July 27, 2009, 07:07:38 PM by numismatica »
It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. -J. K. Rowling.

Offline chrisild

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Re: Advancing as a collector
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2009, 08:00:03 PM »
I too noticed the different legends when in Germany. Didn't one 50 Pfennig type have a milled edge whilst the other was smooth?

Right, but that came later. The BdL pieces, and the BRD ones until 1971, had milled edges. The 50 Pf edges between 1972 and 1996 were smooth.

Collecting domestic circulation coins requires some discipline, as I found out the hard way. I remember that the "Munich Olympics" 10 DM coins first went into my collection, were then taken out and used at face for, ahem, important purchases. Some time later, being mature and wise and all that, I bought them again. Of course there was a difference (not much fortunately) between the face value and what the dealer charged ...

Christian

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Advancing as a collector
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2009, 08:59:38 PM »
Re-reading, I realize I was too absorbed in my own situation and not clear enough trying to answer Dale's concern. Here's another go.

Point one. Dale, I don't think changing whatever you collect means you "have to" sell stuff because it no longer fits into your collection. I also don't think you "have to" buy stuff because it does. You simply change your priority and therefore the status of the coins you have. What was once an important piece in your collection now becomes less important or vice versa. What you were willing to trade for another coin once becomes a prized possession or the other way around. Changing your collecting focus takes no more than studying other things

Point two. What and how to collect? I think the answer depends on a preceding question or set of questions. One is why do I collect? To impress the neighbours / other collectors? To while time away? To learn new stuff? To write articles? To entertain visitors? To start my own coin museum? There are so many different motivations I can think of. Another preceding question is what's fun for me. Obviously, Overlord, Oesho and others find it fun solving the puzzles that are Indian subcontinent coins, while others may like nicely ordered rows of coins in albums and catalogue numbers crossed off. There's nothing wrong with either approach and there's a lot in between.

Maybe it helps to have a role model. There are many, but here are a few, mostly from the anglo world, to think about:

- Michelangelo: driven by curiosity. If it works in theory, that's good enough
- Benjamin Franklin: It's good enough only if it works in practice
- Isaac Newton: learning from predecessors, ordering and understanding is everything
- Oscar Wilde: only beauty and elegance matter
- Alexander the Great: see where fate leads you
- Heinrich Schliemann: you can learn anything if you put your mind to it
- Paul Getty: gotta buy, gotta sell

You can probably think of more and better examples yourself. The names don't matter. What matters is that you like the method. You don't have to become a great scientist or leader, but you can always follow one.

Once you've done the Big Thinking, there's plenty to glean from the answers given in this thread. We start from curiosity, we start collecting what's easy. We develop our taste, we change our collecting focus. We end up older and a little bit wiser and we collect what we have come to appreciate. What we appreciate depends on our nature, not on what other think/do/collect. There's always a reason for what we collect; that reason is ours and within us. Maybe most important: there's no reason to restrict your collection by a set of dates and a geographical area, but if that's what appeals to you FINE.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.