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Older and Wiser



I always thought it to be a shame if a person only grows older without growing any wiser. People often classify such a person as a fool. Concerning my relationship to coin collecting, wiser after so many years has finally come!


After going trailblazers buying Morgan Dollars several years ago, I had lost interest in the series and finally sold off much of my collection in 2017. Now my interest in Morgan Dollars only includes the following: MS-65 and higher Morgan’s, GSAs, and Carson City Morgan’s. The rest, more than 40 coins in all, were sold, most at a loss to acquire the coins that today represent my real passion.


At that time several years ago, I was adding Morgan’s to my collection at a rate of two or three coins a month. E-Bay was an addicting and all too easy venue for me to buy coins. It became as if, “I see, I like, I buy.” Never mind if I saw a coin, bought it, and only a few days later saw one I liked better and bought that one. I often rationalized that purchasing the new coin was subsidized by the old coin. To tell the truth, I was compulsively and indiscriminately buying coins. This no-win situation only robbed me of my numismatic passion and subsequently turned me into a numismatic fool.


My Laura Gardin Fraser collection has taught me the patience needed to not only enjoy coin collecting but to do it at a pace that is both reasonable and results in buying quality coins that will never need to be upgraded. You see, when the coins and medals you need in your collection rarely make an appearance on the open market, you have to learn patience. Patience  then is a good indicator of passion. If I have no patience, I have no passion resulting in burnout. So far, I haven’t lost patience with my LGF set and now don’t expect that I will. In fact, I just picked up two scarce pieces at bargain basement prices, one with a mintage of only 30! I will post more about those later.


That said, I will not be branching out into other numismatic ventures other than the following:

       Allegorical and inspirational women featured on worldwide coinage. Since my wife’s mother died of breast cancer, I will be buying the “pink” gold half-eagle going on sale by the US Mint in March.

       Seated imagery featured on worldwide coinage.

       A US gold typeset featuring all the major varieties from 1834-1933, less the 1907 high relief St. Gaudens double-eagle. (Only the prohibitive price tag keeps me from acquiring that one.)

       High-grade Morgan dollars, Carson City dollars, and GSA’s.

       Final upgrades to my 7070 US type set purchased on my behalf by a dealer friend of mine.

       …And of course my Laura Gardin Fraser coin and medal set!


My dealer friend buys attractive coins for my 7070 type set from my want list in the grades that I can afford. My want list is a five year plan to acquire the coins that I will never have to upgrade and so finally complete a set that I will be proud to own going into retirement. This dealer friend also attends all the coin shows that I cannot. Thus, I am learning to patiently acquire coins via one of the oldest of collector venues, “The Coin Show.”


Coins shows also give my dealer friend a chance to sell or trade my old coins at the best price possible. Therein is yet another opportunity for me to learn patience especially for my VG-10 1893-S Morgan. My friend held that coin for close to a year before finding a suitable buyer at the January FUN show.


In 2017 I spent most of the proceeds of my Morgan sale to purchase coins to fill my gold type collection. Now only the no-motto half-eagle and no-motto Indian Head Eagle remain. Additionally, I am waiting until the spot price of gold goes much higher to sell the gold coins I purchased long ago and recently upgraded. This again is another opportunity for me to learn patience since many of those coins I purchased when gold was close to $2000/oz.


In 2018, I expect my new purchases to be far fewer as I move more towards quality over quantity. So far this year with the proceeds from the 93-S Morgan I bought a beautiful E-bay purchased MS-64 1908 no-motto St Gaudens Double-Eagle and a FUN show pick-up, MS-66 1913 ty 1 Buffalo Nickel for my 7070 type set. I purchased both these coins with a couple hundred dollars to spare.


Needless to say these two coins are not subject to upgrades as they are absolutely gorgeous for their grades. Through the patience of selectively purchasing only those coins that fit my narrowly defined passion, have I finally become wise. 







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Great post Gary,

I can relate to so much of what you said.  For years, I was a series collector because that's what I thought I should be doing.  I remember reading an article in a magazine when I was first starting out in 1999, warning of becoming an accumulator or hoarder rather than a collector and series collecting was the way to avoid those things.  I was a whole 18 years old at the time.  And that stupid article stuck with me for the next 17 years!  But series collecting never really kept my interest or lit my passion, so I kept trying to go for crazy world sets that became increasingly more exotic and expensive to try to make it interesting.  Guess what? It didn't.  It didn't make it interesting at all.  All I was doing was spending even more money on a mode of collecting that really wasn't much fun for me.

So, this past year, I really started to think about what would make me happy hobby-wise.  I even went through a time for a couple of months where I purchased no coins at all and indulged in some other interests.  It was fun, but I missed coins.  I wanted to be back in the game, but it needed to be in the right way.  Then my life partner (after 10 years, girlfriend just isn't a good enough term), suggested that I do something with birds and other dinosaurs.  I've always loved dinosaurs for as long as I could remember and in 2014, I read a scientific paper that explained that birds are actually living dinosaurs! I was enthralled!  She said that I should combine coins and birds and other dinosaurs in a thematic collection.

So, I tried it.  And it was something that I hadn't had in coins for a long time.......it was fun!! It was a whole lot of fun!! Instead of buying the same type of coin with a different date on it over and over again, I could buy all sorts of coins from all over the world, each with a different animal with different artwork on it.  It was in starting this collection that I realized what I wanted from coins.  I wanted something unique, something done in a way that no one had ever done it before.  As far as I know, no one has ever built a collection of bird coins in the context of them being living dinosaurs before.  I was finally doing something that was done my way, and done just for my own satisfaction and the joy of sharing my love of both coins and dinosaurs with the community here.  The collecting was finally its own reward.

Here's the funny thing.....when I was doing all of that crazy, exotic World set collecting, I was trying really hard to do something that would win a major Registry award here......and none of them ever made the cut.  However, when I started this set and stopped worrying so much about that piece of it and just building something out of passion and love......then I won one!  I won one of the major awards this year for my dinosaur thematic custom set Avians-The Dinosaurs Among Us.

There's definitely a lesson here in becoming older and wiser.  I'm 37 now, and 37 has a way of seeing all aspects of life differently than 18 does and, thankfully, in my case 37 is seeing things in a better way than 18 did.  I finally broke the hold that stupid CoinAGE magazine article had on me for almost two decades!  And when I did, I achieved a major accomplishment!  I'd say the lesson I learned is that when you have the passion, the love and the drive all working toward the same goal, the rest will often follow.

Edited by Mohawk
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Hi Gary- well written article- as usual! That gold looks very clean- nice pickup! It is too bad we can't keep up with all your upgrades- unless they are NGC coins (a topic we discussed at the last CS show). Keep up the great work and keep us posted on your upgrades! take care- Dave

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