I enjoy collecting! This you know if you’ve been a constant reader
of my column, which dates back to 1961. I have to stop and think that
this was 50 years ago.
Most of what I collect is apart from the series of federal coins.
Prices are cheaper, but it takes a lot more hunting to find things.
The thrill of the chase, or “Getting there is half the fun” (as United
Airlines used to say when, perhaps, this was true). Often, before I
buy something, or after I do, I try to learn as much as I can about
Counterstamped large copper cents formed one of my first
collections. I started it in 1955 at a time when the coins had little
value. When as a beginning dealer (I started in 1953 at the age of 14)
I would go to a show, more often than not a collector or dealer who
knew of my interest would say, “Dave, here is one for you!” — and give
me a cent with a name or design stamped on it. Today, counterstamped
large cents are widely collected, and some are valued into the tens or
even hundreds of dollars.
Along the way I have been busy as a dealer, of course, and have
handled my share of “name” collections and great rarities. However,
when it comes to my collecting, I continue on obscure byways.
Obsolete bank notes of Maine and New Hampshire from the 1790s to
1866 are another passion. I also like national bank notes of New
Hampshire, and at the recent Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction in
Baltimore, I competed for a $1 note of the First National Bank of
Gonic. It is in Very Fine grade, except that the lower left corner is missing.
Needless to say I had no investors competing with me! Even so,
estimated at $1,250 to $1,750, the note attracted enough notice that
it cost me $4,600 to own it.
While those who discuss investments usually talk about gold and
silver coins, a little secret is that obscure specialties have done as
well or better!
Collectors of tokens and medals rarely consider them to be
investments when they are buying. Instead, they enjoy the art,
history, romance and other connections. Just about any example has a
lot of each to offer.
In recent years I have discovered a great new way to enjoy what I
have. I use an Epson Perfection V500 photo scanner (cost less than
$150!) attached to my computer. I scan both sides of a token, medal or
note in high resolution, then put the item in the bank. Then I can
enjoy seeing each item enlarged and in color on my computer. Try it.
Your collection is just the touch of a button away!
Q. David Bowers is chairman emeritus of Stack’s Bowers Galleries
and numismatic director of Whitman Publishing LLC. He can be reached
at his private email, email@example.com,
or at Q. David Bowers, LLC, Box 1804, Wolfeboro, NH 03894.