Young numismatists benefit from their collector mentors

By Taylor Webb
Published : 07/20/12
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When you started collecting, hopefully when you were young, who helped you collect and with your collection experiences? As a young numismatist, this is especially important, because it helps you expand your collecting expertise, and it can also help you learn.

A lot of collectors have been started because of a neat coin-related gift, or a nice bit of numismatic knowledge. Whatever the reason, this can jump start both collectors and collections.

When I started collecting, at age 8, I was surrounded both with people willing to teach me and people willing to help me finish my collection. These people have helped me both by giving me a single coin and giving me large amounts of coins.

My first encounter with a gifting person was when I met my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Z. I was going to an open house from my school, when he approached me asking whether or not I collected. Of course I said yes, and he produced from his pocket a handful of coins. I don’t remember the specific dates, but I do remember finding among them a dateless Standing Liberty quarter dollar, a few Buffalo nickels from the late 1930s and a few common date Indian Head cents. I was especially interested in these Buffalo nickels, as they were new to me. I remember that they had glue on them. This encounter was especially sweet as Mr. Z went on to become one of my favorite teachers ever.

Another encounter with a great gifter came when I learned that my great-grandfather had a coin collection and was an avid numismatist. He was long deceased and I didn’t know much about him, but it made me proud that he too was a numismatist.

I learned that his collection resided with my great-uncle. I immediately wrote to him asking to view some of his coins if he could show me them. He replied a few days later on the phone telling me he would bring them to our next family reunion. I came home from the reunion with a big smile and a box full of coins. He had multiple modern sets, and coins dating back to the later 1800s. The most valuable coin is the 1872 Indian Head cent. I am proud to say I still have it to this day.

Another encounter came in the form of multiple opportunities. When I was little, I used to go to these nice and loving neighbors, older folks, who were great friends of my dad’s. The older man used to be a coin collector from the 1960s to the 1970s, and then dropped out for a lack of interest. I remember him bringing out a large bag of Wheat cents and pouring them out all over the table because he had heard of, in the newspaper, a 1943 copper cent that sold for a large sum of money, so he was looking for one. At this time, I wasn’t a collector, but this memory struck me as interesting, and it made me want to be a numismatist. We never found a copper 1943 cent though.

Ever since this time, when I started collecting coins, I had been pestering him to show me his coin collection. Finally, a few months ago, he showed me it. He let me buy what I wanted, at the current Greysheet prices, and then we took the rest to a nearby coin dealer, where we sold most of his silver scrap, along with a 1928 $20 gold certificate. I later became good friends with the coin dealer, even though I am still a YN.

I have one last person in mind, and this person is a longtime collector from New York, but unfortunately, I can’t say his name. I will call him “Green” since that’s what he goes by on the coin forums. I was browsing a coin forum, and “Green” and I were good friends, and he messaged me one day saying he would send me some “Stuff” and to send him my address. A week or two later, a huge package came, containing a bunch of old American Numismatic Association magazines, a bunch of old and new coins, and books. The magazines prompted me to join the ANA.

These are just some of the many people who have helped me expand my collection, by giving me opportunities and sometimes coins. These people are the people who bring new people to the hobby and are the backbone of it. I am grateful for all of them.

Taylor Webb is a 12-year-old young numismatist from Fremont, Calif., and a member of the American Numismatic Association.

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