What percentage of active coin collectors read hobby books....
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118 posts in this topic

On 8/20/2021 at 3:11 PM, RWB said:

Can you photograph the pages, then convert the images to PDF, and OCR the PDF. That, I think, would be a lot faster and cheaper than typing....

I can't, but someone skilled in PC's and programs probably can. xD

I'm in no rush and if in a few months I have a few extra $$$ I don't mind paying someone to leisurely typ out the sections.  Figure it should take 30-40 hours or so....some nice PT work for a high-school or college kid with a few weeks to kill. (thumbsu 

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On 8/20/2021 at 5:39 PM, VKurtB said:

Because there is no editing function on the Internet. Too much utter garbage gets through to readers and it colors their perceptions. 

I find the back-and-forth nature of the Internet very useful.  I'm not saying I don't enjoy book, including GOOD books, but there's something to be said for picking the brains of various people who have been dealing in coins of interest to me for decades.

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On 8/20/2021 at 11:33 AM, World Colonial said:

I have never looked at any of these books.  I infer if it's your area of interest, it's quite useful.  Informs you on things like the strike characteristics, availability in different quality, major varieties and maybe the price history for each coin in the series.

Probably because of my training in financial analysis and investing....but I find even DATED books of interest because I then can see how things change over time as I read updated books and information (hence my interest in the HA archives and David Akers comments on Saints).

The time frames for the Akers/Ambio books are 1988 and 2008....Bowers came out in 2004...and Roger's book is from 2018.  While lots of the stuff is the same...and stuff pre-RWB is outdated (esp. pricing and pop census), I still find the earlier books with lots of outdated information useful.

Of course...nothing beats an updated book, esp. as pricing and pop census and new commentary is available.

One thing that I don't read that much about:  the use of Saint-Gaudens commons as bullion subsitutes beginning in the 1970's and later by telemarketers.  Would be interested to know if folks preferred the classic coins over new ones....how the distributors obtained the coins in bulk...any pricing discounts....etc.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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I assume that the number is very small. Like other members have already said, most collectors seem unable or unwilling to learn how to grade, much less take the time to study the history of the items they accumulate. 

In the past, I read almost anything that came my way. This provided a decent background knowledge of a host of U.S. coins. Since starting my graduate education, I have found it more challenging to devote time to do so. That being said, I still read relevant material very often, but it is much more tailored to what I collect. New publications on my area of focus are far and few. As such, I spend a lot of time reading out of print books, contemporary ephemera (e.g., newspaper clippings, parliamentary briefs, etc.), peer-reviewed journal publications, and lately, a considerable amount of archived personal correspondence in a mix of several different languages. Although I love pretty shiny things just as much as the next guy, it is often the historical context that captures and keeps my attention. 

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On 8/20/2021 at 8:04 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

One thing that I don't read that much about:  the use of Saint-Gaudens commons as bullion subsitutes beginning in the 1970's and later by telemarketers.  Would be interested to know if folks preferred the classic coins over new ones....how the distributors obtained the coins in bulk...any pricing discounts....etc.

Since there are more of the AGE and the spreads have usually been lower, I presume the AGE.  To the non-collector, bullion is bullion.  I'm not sure if both are eligible for self directed retirement accounts but I understand no and that's probably a factor too

I don't think you will find a book covering this, maybe prior articles partly.

For my collecting, the #1 thing I want to know is survival rates and quality distribution.  I want to know what's potentially available to add to my collection.  The survey data in one of my references is useful but insufficient.

Edited by World Colonial
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On 8/21/2021 at 1:39 AM, coinsandmedals said:

I assume that the number is very small. Like other members have already said, most collectors seem unable or unwilling to learn how to grade, much less take the time to study the history of the items they accumulate. 

In the past, I read almost anything that came my way. This provided a decent background knowledge of a host of U.S. coins. Since starting my graduate education, I have found it more challenging to devote time to do so. That being said, I still read relevant material very often, but it is much more tailored to what I collect. New publications on my area of focus are far and few. As such, I spend a lot of time reading out of print books, contemporary ephemera (e.g., newspaper clippings, parliamentary briefs, etc.), peer-reviewed journal publications, and lately, a considerable amount of archived personal correspondence in a mix of several different languages. Although I love pretty shiny things just as much as the next guy, it is often the historical context that captures and keeps my attention. 

Even the magnificent Red Rose Coin Club of Lancaster, PA is seeing a “qualitative” reduction of its membership. Fewer want to serve in any capacity. More want to assemble stacks of junk silver. 

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On 8/19/2021 at 9:40 PM, VKurtB said:

If the above responses are correct, it goes a LONNNNNNNNG way toward explaining my dismay about this hobby’s trajectory. Read. Books. Dammit. Attend events. Join a club. In short, get a clue. 

I beg to differ, there are hobbies and hobbies, people have different intensity, its nice to have information to cover those intensity levels but don't expect everyone to be die hard in whatever they collect, I don't read books on funko pops but I collect them, same with metal detecting, silver coins in general, im allowed to be a collector and just advance my knowledge organically rather then drag my rear to every library or drop thousands of dollars on reading material before buying my first Indian head.

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On 8/19/2021 at 10:38 PM, Lem E said:

I believe that the true collectors out there will educate themselves and try to acquire knowledge through books and other means of information as well. I think there are more true collectors than people think. They are just being overshadowed by the bombardment of treasure hunters looking for “the big score” and not worried about actually educating themselves.

Every collecfor begins somewhere, is it wrong to collect silver coins because of stories from your grandfather about the treasure ships wrecked?, each to their own, how, why or when they begin should not be judged by those who took a different path, a lot of people bought metal detectors to find old hordes but became detectorist who read books, study satellite pictures, are members of clubs and post questions and gained knowledge on forums but they are no more important then the amateur who picks up a machine from a pawn brokers and goes out in the field around their house at 10 years old, don't diminish the beginner just because you no longer are...different horses for different courses.

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On 8/20/2021 at 9:23 AM, Mr_Spud said:

I tend to read parts of coin hobby books when I first get them and later look up specific things in the books, but I don’t usually read them cover to cover like they are a novel. 

About is a collection of information not an I structure manual, people thinking we need to digest everything in order to begin anything are 'Bigly' mistaken, we can store them in things like libraries for study on one particular subject not have to learn about every coin ever minted to understand our one year of capped bust half penny.

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On 8/20/2021 at 11:25 AM, World Colonial said:

I agree. 

I also don't see why anyone thinks it should ever be any different.  Why would anyone expect more than a very low proportion to spend money for reference material that has nothing to do with their collecting?  A higher proportion will read it for free but  just because someone is an avid collector for their area of interest doesn't mean they have much if any interest in another they don't collect.

Myself, there are a few books I would like to read but have not seen it for sale.  Two examples include Bowers 1822 half eagle and another author for the Getz patterns.  I also considered buying Amato's for the 1796-1797 half dollar but did not.

Some of these books are also quite expensive.  It's either out of print or the print run wasn't sufficient for demand.  I bought one of mine (one of 500) for $65 back in 2002 and purportedly it now sells for $400.  If I did not own it now, I would consider buying it anyway but never at this price (or near it) for something I don't and never will collect.

It's like the magazine racks in Barnes and Noble, they have lots of car magazines but who is going to read about a BMW if they own or are interested in a Triumph, it would be mad to suggest toothat they read about the invention of the internal combustion engine to understand the Triumph herald, its superfluous to their particular interest..I read the coin mags, am an online subscriber to coin world, read archeology and history of particular times my coins may have come from and been handled and used in but I don't read it all or I'd have yet to buy my first coins.

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On 8/20/2021 at 3:13 PM, gmarguli said:

Most collectors can't be bothered to learn how to grade / authenticate / detect problems/alterations with the coins they collect. They've given that job to the TPG. Why would they bother to read up on the history of the coins? 

Besides, most coin books are awful. Them seem written for parents to buy their young budding coin collector child something to read. 

I think jts more a reverse interest where you buy a coin then if interested you buy more and then to avoid being scammed or interest alone brings you to reading up on grading, valuing, history of that type, etc...some come at the hobby from a general like of history, some from profit, some from just looking for a hobby even..whichever way they do it God love them for being interested at all in whatever way they are or it would gave gone the way of stamp collecting years ago.

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On 8/21/2021 at 11:55 AM, Dark Chameleon said:

I beg to differ, there are hobbies and hobbies, people have different intensity, its nice to have information to cover those intensity levels but don't expect everyone to be die hard in whatever they collect, I don't read books on funko pops but I collect them, same with metal detecting, silver coins in general, im allowed to be a collector and just advance my knowledge organically rather then drag my rear to every library or drop thousands of dollars on reading material before buying my first Indian head.

Your description is how most collectors approach collecting.

The whole purpose of a hobby is recreational.  This is what those who are taking the opposite position here forget or ignore.  With most US collectors who spend "meaningful" amounts of money, it's my inference that their primary motive isn't knowledge for it's own sake, but to protect their "investment" so that they can obtain value for what they pay and have a higher probability of getting their money back at resale.

Why would anyone expect or believe anything else? 

To insist on anything more is to turn collecting into work.  If a prospective collector had to learn what's being implied in these sentiments, there would be far fewer coin buyers and the price level would be much lower.   They would find something else to do with their time and money.  There are more options than ever and it's not like there aren't any alternatives.

As one example, the problem isn't that most collectors can't grade to TPG standards.  It's that US "collecting" has become so financialized and the Sheldon scale is one of the primary reasons for it.

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On 8/21/2021 at 1:46 PM, World Colonial said:

Your description is how most collectors approach collecting.

The whole purpose of a hobby is recreational.  This is what those who are taking the opposite position here forget or ignore.  With most US collectors who spend "meaningful" amounts of money, it's my inference that their primary motive isn't knowledge for it's own sake, but to protect their "investment" so that they can obtain value for what they pay and have a higher probability of getting their money back at resale.

Why would anyone expect or believe anything else? 

To insist on anything more is to turn collecting into work.  If a prospective collector had to learn what's being implied in these sentiments, there would be far fewer coin buyers and the price level would be much lower.   They would find something else to do with their time and money.  There are more options than ever and it's not like there aren't any alternatives.

As one example, the problem isn't that most collectors can't grade to TPG standards.  It's that US "collecting" has become so financialized and the Sheldon scale is one of the primary reasons for it.

And id assume that those who dive head long into the books are more like traders then those seeking to profit from purchases on a smaller scale where general knowledge increase matters most...id think the highest proportion of hobbyists books with coins would be the red book and blue book with perhaps a grading book as general reading...specific books are probably works of love like restoring cars, writing them will not produce a profit but might aid others or themselves (ego) because there are not going to be more then a few thousand people interested in early sumarian fake coin manufacturers comparred to early colonial types sets or treasure gold finds.

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On 8/21/2021 at 11:02 AM, Dark Chameleon said:

Every collecfor begins somewhere, is it wrong to collect silver coins because of stories from your grandfather about the treasure ships wrecked?, each to their own, how, why or when they begin should not be judged by those who took a different path, a lot of people bought metal detectors to find old hordes but became detectorist who read books, study satellite pictures, are members of clubs and post questions and gained knowledge on forums but they are no more important then the amateur who picks up a machine from a pawn brokers and goes out in the field around their house at 10 years old, don't diminish the beginner just because you no longer are...different horses for different courses.

I’m not trying to judge anyone or telling people what or how to do anything. My comment also has nothing to do with metal detecting. Maybe “treasure hunter” was a poor choice of words. I’m just saying that there is a growing percentage of individuals that have no interest in collecting, the hobby, or even the coins themselves. They are just looking to make a quick buck without doing any type of research, and even then, if you can pull that off, more power to you. Like you said, to each their own. I’m not saying you have to read multiple books cover to cover, but a quick 10 or 15 minutes of basic research from the right resources will generally tell you that the coin you think is going to bring in bags of money is most likely not what you have. I encourage anyone to ask questions because that is how we learn, but a lot of the time the only question asked is “What is this worth?”

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On 8/21/2021 at 4:06 PM, Lem E said:

 a lot of the time the only question asked is “What is this worth?”

Exactly.  And I personally refuse to answer those questions unless someone is clearly showing that they are a curious collector who wants to know a price for reasons pertaining to that.  And I never tell anyone who is new and possibly just looking for a quick buck how to sell.  If it's someone like me who wants to sell to help their collecting budget, that's a little different, as is if it's someone who is a member in good standing here, like Woods in his thread about selling at a coin show.  I won't help people who just want to try to make a million dollars with what they find in a parking lot, in a roll, in their change from the gas station or metal detecting.  Those people do far more harm to the hobby than good, and I won't help them do it.  

Edited by Mohawk
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On 8/21/2021 at 2:39 AM, coinsandmedals said:

I assume that the number is very small. Like other members have already said, most collectors seem unable or unwilling to learn how to grade, much less take the time to study the history of the items they accumulate. 

Learning how to grade is very difficult and subjective, IMO....and can be a bit tedious if not boring.  OTOH, I love absorbing good books on coins and reading about the personalities and dealings of decades ago during the Golden Age of Coin Collecting.  

Reading books by Bowers, reading Akers commentaries on Saint-Gaudens DEs, and now Roger's updated magnus opus....it's easy and fun reading. (thumbsu

Looking at a dozen variations of a coin with different markings in different locations and then seeing how they all grade out can be a bit boring to all but the most committed collectors and/or graders.

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On 8/19/2021 at 11:28 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

I agree books are a valuable resource, but what's wrong about reading stuff on the internet and gathering information that way ?

Because every Jim, Bob, and Larry can post on the internet. You ask a question on a forum, and you could get two or three really knowledgeable people give you an informed answer, but you could also get a dozen other schmucks just making stuff up.

Books are usually going to give you more detail and context as well, and a more complete reference. Sure, I could quote you a sentence or two from Mine to Mint in answer to a question, but you'll get a lot more complete answer if you read the whole chapter which explains that snippet. 

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On 8/21/2021 at 11:22 AM, World Colonial said:

Since there are more of the AGE and the spreads have usually been lower, I presume the AGE.  To the non-collector, bullion is bullion.  I'm not sure if both are eligible for self directed retirement accounts but I understand no and that's probably a factor too I don't think you will find a book covering this, maybe prior articles partly.

For my collecting, the #1 thing I want to know is survival rates and quality distribution.  I want to know what's potentially available to add to my collection.  The survey data in one of my references is useful but insufficient.

I know Blanchard pushed the Saints, usually in the low-60's for bullion and then trying to get you to pay up for the ones with more numismatic value. I had some clients at the time who purchased but I was oblivious to the specific coins, just focusing on how much they spent on gold.

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On 8/22/2021 at 2:40 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

Learning how to grade is very difficult and subjective, IMO....and can be a bit tedious if not boring.  

Looking at a dozen variations of a coin with different markings in different locations and then seeing how they all grade out can be a bit boring to all but the most committed collectors and/or graders.

Yes, except that what you describe here has little to do with actual collecting.  It's the financial side. 

It's not interesting to the collector who predominantly collects for recreation because it isn't recreational. It certainly has zero appeal to the non-collector.

It's more like work but has become more necessary to avoid losing your shirt.  Some knowledge of grading was always necessary for anyone spending "noticeable" money but the inflated price level and pricing structure makes errors potentially a lot more expensive.

Unless it's treated predominantly as a consumption expense, there should no mystery why more aren't eager to spend a lot of money buying (US) coins.  First, you've got to learn the grading minutia between one point MS increments, + grades, and CAC stickers.   Second, try to understand and keep current with the pricing environment.

Reminds me of one comment on the PCGS forum where the contributor discussed their lunch conversation with a specialist dealer about CAC.  Can you imagine that conversation?  It's about as interesting to most collectors and non-collectors both as watching paint dry or traffic lights change.  It's a financial planning session, not collecting.

On 8/22/2021 at 2:40 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

OTOH, I love absorbing good books on coins and reading about the personalities and dealings of decades ago during the Golden Age of Coin Collecting.  

Reading books by Bowers, reading Akers commentaries on Saint-Gaudens DEs, and now Roger's updated magnus opus....it's easy and fun reading. (thumbsu

Exactly

If this isn't enough to attract people to collecting, then the hobby ultimately isn't competitive for the public's time and money.  Otherwise, marketing and financial promotion will only maintain interest as long as the buyer at minimum gets most of their money back.

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On 8/21/2021 at 9:32 PM, Mohawk said:

Exactly.  And I personally refuse to answer those questions unless someone is clearly showing that they are a curious collector who wants to know a price for reasons pertaining to that.  And I never tell anyone who is new and possibly just looking for a quick buck how to sell.  If it's someone like me who wants to sell to help their collecting budget, that's a little different, as is if it's someone who is a member in good standing here, like Woods in his thread about selling at a coin show.  I won't help people who just want to try to make a million dollars with what they find in a parking lot, in a roll, in their change from the gas station or metal detecting.  Those people do far more harm to the hobby than good, and I won't help them do it.  

I have no problem helping people by telling them which books to get so red book, online, grade your own coin etc...ebay even but I'm not a calculator, I like to know too, but it's nice to know enough about my chosen types.

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On 8/22/2021 at 12:47 PM, Dark Chameleon said:

I have no problem helping people by telling them which books to get so red book, online, grade your own coin etc...ebay even but I'm not a calculator, I like to know too, but it's nice to know enough about my chosen types.

And alot of our more popular books -- and the ones that get new editions -- definitely need to be available on Kindle or in PDF/online format for the millenials and others who want to read those books.

NOBODY is going to bring RWB's Saints book -- which costs $100 and is a big, unwieldly book -- to the beach to read.  Folks want it on their smartphone.

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On 8/23/2021 at 1:11 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

And alot of our more popular books -- and the ones that get new editions -- definitely need to be available on Kindle or in PDF/online format for the millenials and others who want to read those books.

NOBODY is going to bring RWB's Saints book -- which costs $100 and is a big, unwieldly book -- to the beach to read.  Folks want it on their smartphone.

they mite if they need kindling....but obviously not enuf want it bad enuf to make anyone spend the bucks to put them on an app....

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On 8/23/2021 at 1:11 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

And alot of our more popular books -- and the ones that get new editions -- definitely need to be available on Kindle or in PDF/online format for the millenials and others who want to read those books.

NOBODY is going to bring RWB's Saints book -- which costs $100 and is a big, unwieldly book -- to the beach to read.  Folks want it on their smartphone.

All the modern books are copyright. One cannot merely scan and distribute.

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On 8/23/2021 at 3:28 PM, RWB said:

All the modern books are copyright. One cannot merely scan and distribute.

For the price of the books, they can include an online or PDF.  If not, I'd gladly pay extra for them like yours.

Should be a discount for the online version if you bought the print copy, though. (thumbsu

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[In response to my tepid, quite embarrassing admission that in my twilight years, I no longer own a SINGLE book, member @Oldhoopster  responded incredulously with a photo of two bookcases chock full of Red Books and every manner of other books and coin enclopedias to my enduring shame.]

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On 8/23/2021 at 3:58 PM, Quintus Arrius said:

[In response to my tepid, quite embarrassing admission that in my twilight years, I no longer own a SINGLE book, member @Oldhoopster  responded incredulously with a photo of two bookcases chock full of Red Books and every manner of other books and coin enclopedias to my enduring shame.]

even the ones that have been colored in?.....

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On 8/23/2021 at 3:48 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

For the price of the books, they can include an online or PDF.  If not, I'd gladly pay extra for them like yours.

Should be a discount for the online version if you bought the print copy, though. (thumbsu

I used the free download option for the latest book, Fads, Fakes & Foibles. I'll know in a month or two how that is working.

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On 8/23/2021 at 12:28 PM, RWB said:

All the modern books are copyright. One cannot merely scan and distribute.

Go to eBay. Type in the name of a popular coin book. Add (pdf,digital,download) to the search. Find lots of Russian sellers selling download links. The listings come and go. 

There are also lots of free sites online of scanned coin books. 

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On 8/23/2021 at 4:08 PM, zadok said:

even the ones that have been colored in?.....

My black-and-while primary school composition book, in which I ptacticed my a,b,c's was jettisoned along with everything else just 10 days before Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc in New York City. My brother had a storage unit and I passed all my valuables to him. As luck would have it, I was not listed as a co-renter, my mother died and my father, 96, went back to his native Turkey. The my brother died. I lost everything. I have a wife now, married in 2016 and I began collecting Roosters in 2018.

Edited by Quintus Arrius
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On 8/23/2021 at 5:45 PM, gmarguli said:

Go to eBay. Type in the name of a popular coin book. Add (pdf,digital,download) to the search. Find lots of Russian sellers selling download links. The listings come and go. There are also lots of free sites online of scanned coin books. 

Really ?  I'm surprised....didn't think there was that much demand to make it worth the crooks time. xD

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