One way to collect is to buy coins, tokens, medals, or bank notes
that have interesting stories.
This can be a fun way to go. In the March Monthly Edition of Coin
World, Gerald Tebben contributed “Collecting History: The $100
Coin Collection.” His philosophy resonated with me. For a modest
budget, you can acquire a 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cent, an 1883 Liberty
Head, No CENTS 5-cent coin, and nice other coins, each with a story.
If I walked into a coin club meeting one evening and was told, “We
have no speaker. Can you say something?” I could talk for a half hour
on the 1909 V.D.B. cent and another half hour on the 1883 5-cent coin.
The “catch,” if there is one, to the $100 collection is that the cent
is “only” Mint State 60 and the 5-cent coin checks in as Very Fine.
In the same issue of Coin World, I saw that a Proof 67 Deep Cameo
Franklin half dollar is valued at $1,750 — or an amount that would buy
17 of Tebben’s $100 collections. If you asked me to speak about that
1955 Franklin half dollar and not digress into 1955 history in general
(such as what President Eisenhower was doing or the biography of
Franklin, or the 1955 Lincoln, Doubled Die cent) I am afraid that I
could not use up five minutes on the coin alone.
Many people have a completely different mind-set. More than just a
few would rather have that single half dollar at the 67 level than a
complete collection of Franklin halves of 1948 to 1953, Proof and
circulation strikes, in Proof and MS-63, for the same $1,750, with
enough money left over to buy a few of Tebben’s $100 sets. Unless you
have a large amount of money to spend on coins, if you concentrate
only on ultra-grade coins, you will have a very small collection. On
the other hand, if you don’t have to own the finest quality in the
marketplace, you can build a fascinating collection with many
different pieces, each with a story.
There is a nice advantage to this. So many buyers have rushed to
acquire ultra-quality coins that in such fascinating fields, at least
to me, as 1892 to 1954 silver commemoratives, Liberty Head 5-cent
coins, and Indian Head cents, such desirable grades as MS-63 and 64
are cheaper now than they were 20 years ago!
Some, such as MS-65 commemoratives, cost less now than they did a
quarter century ago, in 1989! I could probably speak for at least a
half hour on each commemorative design, and for some, talking for an
hour would be easy.
When you contemplate a coin, ask yourself, “Does it have an
interesting story to tell me?”