Steve Roach

The Art of Collecting

Steve Roach

Steve Roach, Coin World’s editor-at-large, has been deeply involved with numismatics for more than 20 years, starting as a young coin collector in Michigan. Two years spent as a coin grader, nearly three years at a major coin wholesaler and a stint as a paintings specialist at an international auction house have given Steve a rich understanding of the hobby, its market and the unique personalities and exceptional objects that make collecting meaningful. He joined Coin World in 2006 as a columnist, and has served as associate editor and editor-in-chief. He received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Michigan, a juris doctorate from the Ohio State University and is a Certified Member of the International Society of Appraisers.

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Teaching history through numismatics

History is the entry point for many new collectors in our hobby. 

Coins have the ability to take us back to points in time. None of our readers were around in 1815, yet as Bill Eckberg shares in his feature on the activity at the Philadelphia Mint in 1815, contemporary coins provide tangible evidence of the struggles of a new nation and Mint coping with war.

It’s a popular trivia question (at least among coin collectors): what year were no cents produced? 

The answer is usually 1815. 

But numismatists love the details, and as Eckberg explains, that traditional answer is likely not that simple. 

He writes, “Cents were struck in 1815, but no cents dated 1815 exist.” He suspects that the cents produced in 1815 were actually struck from a leftover die dated 1814, adding, “The surviving population of coins tells us that if the entire mintage for the date was the recorded 357,830, 1814 Classic Head cents are far more common, relative to the original mintage, than other Classic Head dates.” 

Alternate explanations exist, including one that relates to a rumor in the 1830s that erroneously suggested that 1814 cents had trace amounts of gold, which could have led to hoarding and melting. 

Questions like this keep coin collectors enthralled with our hobby and it is the connection to history that keeps many people involved in numismatics over the course of a lifetime. 

Coin collecting is often called a lifetime hobby and at the recent Florida United Numismatists show in Orlando, more than 50 collectors attended a roundtable discussion where we chatted about the top 10 stories of 2014 and how they could shape collecting today. 

From the discovery of the Saddle Ridge Hoard, the continued exploration of the SS Central America, to more recent issues like the questions surrounding the discovery of a 1974-D Lincoln aluminum cent, there is always something new happening in our hobby and discoveries abound. 

It keeps us busy, and we hope that each issue of Coin World’s weekly and monthly publication educates, entertains and inspires you to explore your hobby in new ways.

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1 comment
This is certainly intriguing! I love the history, and I love hearing how discoveries are confirmed and rumors put to rest. There is so much information to keep track of. Sometimes I love the complicated details; sometimes I look for simple beauty.