Kevin Goldberg

Old World, New Ideas

Kevin Goldberg

Kevin D. Goldberg began collecting European coins as a Middle School student in suburban Philadelphia. Three decades later, he still collects European coins, but now in suburban Atlanta, where he teaches in the Department of History & Philosophy at Kennesaw State University. He earned his Ph.D. in European History from the University of California, Los Angeles, and was a postdoctoral fellow in the International Humanities at Brown University, 2011-2013. Kevin has been planning on expanding his collection beyond Europe for the past decade, but is only now getting around to it.   

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These are my Excuses

There are two questions from non-collectors that numismatists are accustomed to answering: What is our most expensive coin and why, of all things, do we collect coins? While the former question carries little interest for me, the latter is worth pondering. Really, why do we spend time and money in such a solitary pursuit? Why do we drive 50+ miles on a cloudless Sunday to perambulate up and down packed aisles in a fusty room atop a painfully hard concrete floor? There have in fact been times when I have questioned my attachment to the hobby, but I’ve never abandoned it, and I don’t suspect that I ever will.

Nevertheless, it is sensible to reflect upon what it is that motivates us. To some extent, it’s simply the gratification of the purchase, and in this sense there is little that distinguishes us within our consumerist society. But I want to ascertain what is unique about our hobby and to identify the specific pleasures that it provides. After some thought, I’d like to offer up five “excuses”:

Serendipity: This might be niche specific, but many of us, particularly world coin collectors, hunt with a shotgun, not a marksman’s pistol. I continuously encounter coins that I don’t own (many which I hadn’t known existed), but that still fit my core areas. For me, it’s less of a big game hunt and more about finding out what’s behind “curtain number 2.” I continue to be amazed at what’s out there.       

The Night Before: I admit it. I daydream about coin shows. And they keep me up at night, in a good way. Granted, as a collector, I don’t have the stress of moving inventory (literally or figuratively), but the night before a coin show is a splendid thing. It’s one of the few moments that remind me of lying in bed as an adolescent, seething with anticipation about the next day. We’d be foolish to abandon the few remaining chances that we have, as adults, to experience this emotion.      

The Krause World Coin Catalogs: Another confession. I enjoy speculating about the coins that I don’t own as much as I enjoy the coins that I actually do own. One of my guilty pleasures is an hour with a Krause catalog, eyeballing impossible to find goodies from distant lands and periods. While I may be alone in divulging this, I don’t suspect that I’m alone in reveling in this!

Data Entry: It sounds awful, partly because many of us do this in our jobs, but I relish the process of updating my spreadsheet and online inventory databases. I record just about everything (weight, diameter, mintmark, etc.). My online database includes scanned images of all obverses and reverses. It’s a great way to stay in touch with the collection while away…or at work.

The 1 in 100 Rule: It hasn’t happened yet, but I look forward to the day when somebody curious enough to inquire about my collection starts one of their own. All family members are out at this point. My siblings have other pursuits and my children’s eyes begin to secrete a wet glaze seconds after I reach for a box of 2x2s. There is still time, but for now I am left only to imagine the joy that comes with helping another partake in such a rewarding hobby.   

 

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