Coin collecting can be a hobby of ups and downs whether you collect silver, gold, copper, or coins made of any other type of metal. Here are three experiences, laid out in story form, that almost every seasoned collector has dealt with.
1. Finding that elusive slot-filler
Seasoned collectors know the agony/pleasure of spending years completing a set of coins. For instance, say a collector was working on a set of Mercury Dimes and lacked the 1916-D, the key to the series. Like most collectors, they cannot afford a mint state coin, because who really has an extra ten grand just laying around?
Our collector has been searching for a nice, slightly circulated 1916-D. They visit the local coin show annually and make an effort to find Old Winston. Old Winston is a hobbyist, not an active dealer, but he has always enjoyed coin shows and sets up a booth to help further the hobby with pieces from his own collection. Our collector sidles up to Winston's table and takes a seat.
"What'll it be?" Winston asks, sounding more like a bartender than a coin collector. But, let's face it, collecting can be every bit as intoxicating.
Our collector responds, "I'm working on a set of proof Franklin Halves, a type set of Half Cents, and just got into Civil War tokens. Oh, and I still need that '16-D dime."
Winston's eyes light up as he slips a hand into his pocket. He extracts a white cardboard 2x2 holder and offers it to our collector. It takes three seconds of looking and a quick check under Winston's magnifier to confirm this is the dime our collector needs.
The coin is bright but not cleaned, has been around the block but still shows a good amount of the features. It is just nice enough to ride the line between VF and EF. Our collector's stomach sinks as the notion that this coin must be priced around $5000.
"Where did you find this?" The collector asks.
"Just picked it up this morning before the show opened. Paid twenty nine hundred for it. I could let it go for twenty nine fifty."
As our collector's hands begin to shake, they ask, "Why are you only marking up fifty dollars?"
"Two reasons. First, I enjoy seeing coins go to collectors who will enjoy them. Second, I have had this coin in my possession for an hour. Fifty bucks for an hour's work, if you want to call it that, is pretty good pay."
Our collector hands over the cash. The coin show has already ended for them, having just spent over their full coin budget for the year.
2. Seeing a full album, your full album, for the first time
Our collector returns home. They carefully remove their new prized possession from its little, square cardboard holder; taking extra care to not let the staples, that had fastened the 2x2 flip shut, scratch the surface of the dime.
They pull an album from the bookshelf and blow a thin layer of the dust from the top. They open the cover and gaze down at the dazzling dimes. With hands still trembling, and slightly clammy, our attentive collector places the 1916-D dime in its slot. The set is complete.
Our collector stares at the first page of the album and allows the cozy feeling of completeness to envelop them. A nearly overwhelming feeling of warm pride bubbles up from within them as they slowly turn the album's pages.
"I did it," they think. "I completed a set of Mercury Dimes."
3. What now?
Unfortunately, nothing is permanent. The initial feeling of contentment and completion only lasts so long. While the dime collection will always be theirs, our collector will begin to notice a gnawing question at the back of their mind.
What do I do now?
The collector who completes a large set will sometimes feel lost or even slightly depressed. It can be tough to stay excited about the hobby when there are no coins to hunt. Luckily, our collector has a couple other things in the works (the Franklin Half and Half Cent sets they mentioned to Old Winston at the coin show) and these pursuits should be enough to keep the interest alive.
No matter what kind of coins you collect, or how you collect them, it is a good idea to know what you want to accomplish next. For instance, once I complete my 20th century type set, I am thinking seriously about completing a set of Franklin Halves (P, D, S) or venturing into the world of tokens. Perhaps I will do both, if my wallet can bare the strain.