US Coins

Avoiding 'couch potato' numismatics to maximize rewards

This week’s “The Joys of Collecting” column by longtime Coin World contributor and hobby luminary Q. David Bowers touches on an interesting product of the digital age: the instant collector.

To paraphrase Bowers, since the Internet has provided a huge amount of information on nearly every coin out there, and as grading services have taken care of most issues involving grading and authenticity, some of the activities that characterized previous generations of collectors’ efforts to study and learn our hobby have become seemingly unnecessary.

He suggests that this wide dissemination (and standardization) of information has resulted in the creation of numismatic “couch potatoes.” What likely seemed unfathomable a decade ago is now possible. A coin collector can become proficient in our hobby without a numismatic library, without joining a local club, without subscribing to any hobby publications and without visiting a coin show or local coin shop.

That distance sure seems to take the fun out of the hobby.

Bowers advises that the numismatic antidote to the above phenomenon is to immerse oneself firsthand in our hobby, and I couldn’t agree more.

Our columnists share their personalized involvement with the hobby with you in Coin World.

For example, in this week’s issue, Gerry Tebben took his hobby with him while watching the movie Les Miserables and realized that many of the movie’s “gold” coins were actually highly polished bronze 10-centime pieces of Napoleon III. These were minted more than 20 years after the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris that serves as the setting for the action.

“Home Hobbyist” columnist Michael Bugeja took his hobby with him to England while he was presenting at a conference. Visiting a local shop in Oxford, he stumbled across a hammered silver fourpence of Henry VI issued during the king’s reign of 1422 to 1430, and made a friend in the process of buying it.

Fred Reed writes this week, “I’ve long been enamored with the Memphis Francisco & Wiggin Peabody Hotel store card” and this long-held interest inspired him to a research discovery.

Guest Commentary contributor Jon Amato shares how he took a decades-long interest in a two-year type coin to its limit, producing a book that will be an important hobby reference for generations to come.

How will you leave your mark on this hobby?

I sincerely hope that the stories that our columnists and contributors share each week profiling their journeys in collecting inspire you to start a collecting journey of your own.


Steve Roach

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