Thursday, March 2, 2017
See the title of this post? Sounds strange coming from me, doesn't it? I'm the guy incessantly talking about how to blend numismatics, the internet, and technology. So, what gives with writing a post called "Unplug"?
At the end of the day, coin collecting is a tactile hobby. The greatest joy doesn't come from looking at hi-res images online, it comes from feeling the weight of a coin against the pads of your fingers. Picking up a coin and watching the light dance on its surface as you rotate it is the numismatic equivalent of fireworks. Examining a coin in detail, learning its history, reading the lore behind it, and coming to understand the coin in a way not many others have; well, that's romance.
I've done my fair share of bitching and complaining about numismatics, pointing at things I think should change and saying, "Here's how it could work." It's easy to focus on what is wrong with our hobby. But, damn it, how often do we take a moment to talk about what's right about it? I certainly don't. Not often enough, anyway. And if we want to bring people into the collecting community, what better way could there be? Maybe it is time to show folks that we're not a bunch of whiners grumbling about the market.
We share an interesting, educational, and, often times, emotional pastime. What matters is not metal prices, investments, third party grading, gradeflation, values, or even the coins. It's us who matter. The collectors. Even the rarest coin will always just be a thing, an object. Without people, a collection is simply a gathering of stuff. We give numismatics meaning and you can't place a price on that.
With this in mind, get the screens out of your face and dig in to some coins. It doesn't matter if it is pocket change, wheat pennies, bulk silver, mint state gold, gaming tokens, medals, or world coins. Imagine all of the people who have handled them before, the history and stories behind the designs, and everything that goes into the actual production of the coins. There are people at every layer and each one of them has their own unique story.
Unplugging for a while does a collector a world of good. I noticed this when I was sorting the wheat pennies I had ordered. Every time I found a 1909 I would think to myself, "This coin has seen two world wars and many others, the roaring 20s, the great depression, possibly both Roosevelts, etc." Not to mention, being engrossed in coins puts me in my Zen place. It's nice to take a technological time-out and just appreciate the act of collecting.