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How did you get your start in Numismatics?

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Hi all,


I have been collecting coins since I was around ten years old! I was fortunate to have met a dealer who was inspirational in getting me going in the hobby. At that time he was in his 90's, this was 1993, and he was a veteran of both World Wars. I was told later in life he was a highly decorated General. My story started with me begging my older brother to buy me a coin, he annoyingly gave in and slid me five dollars. I gave it to the General who was happy to sell me a circulated but nice 1934 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, that I have to this date. I have been hooked since.


I have a huge interest in early federal coinage, confederate currency, world crown coins, and Imperial and Republic Mexican coinage.


I collect because I feel like owning a particular coin connects me to the history of its time. A youthful perspective perhaps but it's what keeps me going in a sometimes unforgiving and expensive hobby.


So there is my story, I wanted to start it and this topic in the hopes that others will share their story.


Take Care



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It's hard to say exactly when I became interested in coins. But it was when I was just a little kid.


I had this small pocket factfinder, which I would read all the time. In the Government, Law, and Finance section there was a short part about money. This was one of the things that probably first sparked my interest. I still have that book in fact:




I also use to save change in this gallon liquor bottle to spend at the arcade on my family's summer trip to the beach. But before I'd roll all the coins up, I'd go through them looking for wheat pennies and silver coins. My grandfather gave me that bottle, which I also still have and still keep pocket change in it:




Believe it or not, that bottle can hold a few hundred dollars in change.


But as far as seriously collecting coins, I'd say that I got my start by buying junk silver for the metal content shortly after 9/11. This event really showed me how fear can affect the investment markets (among other things).


I would buy big lots of junk silver, then pick out the nicer coins, which I would turn around and sell on eBay for more junk silver. From there, I became more and more interested in higher grade silver coins and started a collection.

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I got my start collecting coins in 1957 at the age of 10. I was gambling in the local poolroom playing 9-ball with a 16 year old. I won $5, and I was given four ones and a silver dollar in payment. I had never seen a silver dollar before, but I found out later that it was a Morgan.


I left the poolroom and went to the bank where I had a savings account. I held it up and asked the teller if she had any more like it. She spread a bunch across the counter, and I picked out four more using the rest of my pool winnings.


I was good at pool, and I rarely lost. So, it became a routine for me to cash in some of my pool winnings for silver dollars from the bank. Within a few years, I had amassed about 800 Morgan dollars.



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I really got started when my uncle gave me the 13th edition of the Red Book and the two Whitman folders for the 1909 - 1940 and 1941 to 1959 Lincoln cents for Christmas in 1959. I still have the Red Book, which has now been well used, all be it from many years ago.




I was getting interested in numismatic items before that. I bought this 1938 Delaware commemorative medalet for 50 cents, which was the original issue price in 1938, at the John Dickenson Mansion museum just outside Dover, Delaware on my 5th grade field trip. It is now listed as a So-Called Dollar. This piece was left over from the celebration which had been held 20 years before!





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I was 6 or 7 when dad brought home some Blue Whitman books for Lincolns and Jeffersons. I would scrounge through my grandma's coin jars and try to fill the books. I was fortunate to be surrounded by people that always fed my interest. Friends of my dad would give him Liberty nickels, "Here, your kid likes coins, doesn't he ?" In the mid 60's I had an uncle who moved to San Francisco. He was always sending me 'S' mint Lincolns that weren't so easy to find here in the East.


You aren't going to get into the hobby by yourself as a kid. It takes other people to help you out.....



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You aren't going to get into the hobby by yourself as a kid. It takes other people to help you out.....




Not completely true!


No one in my family or neighborhood collected or even helped me get started in coin collecting. I got started in a poolroom, made a lot of money there, and no one in my family even played pool. It was 1957, and I was just 10!



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I got started in 1960 at 10 years old. I happened to notice a redbook at the corner drugstore while perusing comic books (trying to decide which ones to buy). I opened up the redbook and was hooked and bought it instead.


Since I had my own shoeshine route at the time and recieved mostly nickels and dimes those are the ones I started putting in the whitmans. I had a well established route and a fairly loyal customer base which enabled me to make about 20 dollars on a good weekend. I was astounded at the ease with which I could pull buffalo nickels and mercury dimes from the money I earned. Over a six year period I was able to almost fill the mercury dime book. Alas, no key dates except for the 1916D but that is a story unto itself. The buffalo nickel book was much harder since most of the buffs. I recieved were no dates.




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Wow some great stories here. I have been encouraging my 3 year old to pick up the hobby and he has accompanied me to many coin shows. It makes him feel really special when he can carry a big coin in his pocket. He has a little collection going already. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories. I hope to see more follow. A final thought as several have posted about how they collected sets of Mercury's, Buffalos, and Lincolns. I am mildy jealous because I feel as though doing that with today's bauched coinage is kind of pointless Since they are mass produced with cheap nonprecious metals. There are of course some exceptions.

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Never liked coins. Hated them. So boring!


A friend would bring his pennies album to school, inside would be these brown pennies in a blue album, and, well, they held no interest for me. ("How much is that one worth?" "Oh, about ten cents, and that's because it was minted in Denver!")


My interest was stamps. An old house, in the sixties, was spotted by a bunch of us kids when we were leaving the public library, and what caught our attention was the wrecking ball and crane alongside it, and that half of the house was wrecked already, literally in shambles. So, on a Saturday we went to take a closer look.


We wedged ourselves through some sort of barrier entrance, and in the basement were letters strewn everywhere. Old letters, with stamps on them! Hundreds of them. One of us had a World Stamp collection album, and he figured some of the stamps might fit in his album. Sure enough, an old 4 cent Lincoln, violet in color, would go in his stamp album. We looked up its used value in the Scotts catalog, and it was worth maybe 3 cents. The following weekend we were back at the site again, and we gathered up as many of the letters as we could, that looked like their stamps might be in good shape, and thus began MY stamp collection.


Well, stamps are difficult to collect. They're very fragile, too. And I've gone through three iterations of collecting US Mint condition stamps. And in my latest iteration of disarray, my collection is at a standstill, and has been for years. It needs repair, too difficult to explain.


But, due to my childhood interests, I'm a collector at heart. Always want to collect something.


Fastforward to two years ago. I remembered my older brother, when we were both young, having had one of those wooden puzzle cubes that have the interlocking pieces. I never knew how to take it apart, or put it back together, because it was his and he didn't like me fooling around with his stuff. But I wanted to re-explore that childhood memory, so I went online and ordered a really fancy version of it:




What a great puzzle! And 20 pieces, rather than the more simplified 12 piece version my brother had had.


This then led to me ordering a Mame size (Mame means "bean," so bean size; the smallest size.) Japanese Puzzle Box, and it came in, and it was really cool:




I was now into collecting Japanese Puzzle Boxes, and puzzles in general. Aluminum ones (Will Strijbos), and exotic Karakuri Creation Group wooden ones, that are just unbelievable. And I'm currently stuck on a Tucker Jones House disentanglement wrought iron puzzle that has blown my mind.


But throughout this, I kept coming back to that little Mame puzzle box, that always lay empty. What should I put in there, to add to its mystery. Why not gold?! But of course! I'll fill it to the gills with gold, and it will be really heavy, and valuable, too.


I thought of gold coins, at first, and that then morphed into the notion of gold bars, since they could fill up every nook and cranny...really fill it to the gills, so to speak.


But gold bullion was falling two years ago, and for little gold bars, there is a mark up of around $10 to $15 for a little 5-gram piece. And the pieces come in these certified inserts, which I'd be voiding once I removed the bars.


So, I delayed, and then just forgot about the gold bar idea. Sort of a sour grapes thing.


But when looking for the gold online, I kept bumping up against rare gold coins.


Rare gold coins would have much more value, per volume, than anything else, so I made up my mind to go in that direction, and in came my first gold coin: a Carson City $10 AU 53. It was in a PCGS holder. I pried at the edges, and couldn't get it open. How do you get it out? I want to hold it in my hand, not hold this stupid plastic thing.


I emailed a dealer asking about how to get the coin out, and his reply was: "Whatever you do, do not remove the coin from its holder!"


Well, he obviously would be of no help to me and my puzzle box micro gold collection. I kept at it, ordering more coins, and I learned more about the coin holders. They were my guarantee that the coins were genuine. Apparently there are counterfeit coins out there, something I hadn't considered. But I was still going to crack my coins out, once I got to the point where the little puzzle box would be filled.


As of today, I still have never removed a gold coin from its holder, and the little puzzle box still remains empty. I now have a much bigger puzzle box, one that holds complete NGC holders, or PCGS, though I've crossed over all my coins, or traded them back for better coins in NGC holders. The puzzle box holds 18 NGC holders max.


I now know so much about pre-1933 US gold, and after fits and starts, my collection goals have become clearly focused, the collection is well underway, and it has become a great hobby for me.

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