I prepare to leave high school and attend college next fall, I have
been reflecting a lot about the things in life I have done and enjoyed
most. If you have ever watched the TV program, American
Pickers, that is kind of me! I am a serious collector of many
things, and my interests range from old cameras to vintage golf balls
to Civil War buttons. However, my first real love and true passion is
collecting American coinage.
as long as I can remember, I have had an interest in and fascination
with numismatics, or coin collecting. Unlike many young coin
collectors, who often collect brand new coins or modern series such as
State quarters (which, by the way, is a great way to learn U.S.
geography), I specialize in Early American coinage.
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very special coin in my collection, the highly coveted 1793 Flowing
Hair, Chain cent, was the very first U.S. cent minted and used by the
early citizens in this great country’s infancy. When I look at and
hold that particular coin, I feel like I am magically transported back
in time 200+ years. I can almost see, feel, smell and imagine what
life must have been like when that coin was fresh off the press (a
screw press). Just like my fifth grade school trip to Williamsburg,
Va., which was a phenomenal experience, collecting and handling old
coins lets me experience history in a different and more intimate way,
which books alone simply do not provide.
coins also provides a means for me to relate to and connect with
prominent figures in early United States history. For example, I own
one of only 200 Benjamin Franklin designed Libertas Americana medals
ever minted. Mr. Franklin commissioned those medals to commemorate the
end of the Revolutionary War. Knowing that Franklin not only designed
this important piece of numismatic history, but also personally
hand-delivered each of these medals, mine included, to one of the
original members of Congress as an expression of thanks, still gives
me chills. Through coin collecting, I am able to create meaningful
connections to not only Ben Franklin, but to the very citizens who
helped forge this great country. Now that is exciting, if you ask me!
truly important life lesson I have learned from this hobby is that a
person must be dedicated and have real passion to become truly expert
at something. This principle applies not only to numismatics, but also
to other activities like athletics, academics, or even writing for
your school newspaper. Numismatics has helped shape the person I am
today. What started as a seemingly innocent gesture, in which my
grandmother simply gave me a set of three very “old” coins, has
evolved into a major life passion and hobby that allows me to proclaim
that I truly have held history in my hands!
you do start collecting coins, and I hope you will, I suspect that
you, also, will start seeing the world and history in new and exciting
ways. Happy collecting!
Taylor Elwood is a senior in high school. He has been collecting
coins since he was 10. Coppers and Early American coins are among