So, here it is, a few weeks into this website thing. A bit more wine and a time for another blog.
Last time I mentioned that my collection is 'incoherent in scope', but there is a BIT of a reason why I ended up here.
First of all, there is definitely a collector gene. There has to be. Some people collect things, some people don't. Someone I know is a Flintstone collector--he pursued all things Flintstones for many years. That's great, except in a way the collector base is aging out. Great for the younger collectors, but ultimately a money losing proposition. Other collectors go for the trendy-at-the-time...Hummels and Beanie Babies come to mind.
Which brings me to a second point. No matter how sure you are that something will always hold value or be desirable, face it--it won't. Baseball cards, stamps, art...trends wax and wane. Coins are not immune. Mint products and lots of the modern NCLT (non-circulating tender) is made in such abundance it's nuts. If you happen to love the superhero coins, the guitar shaped coins, the shark coins etc, then by all means, buy them...but don't expect them to provide for your retirement. Classic US coins SEEM to be a good way to collect--but do look around at the collector base. Getting older. The super rarities will probably always do reasonably well, and it does make sense that a portion of the kiddos collecting State quarters might move into more 'serious' collections...but still...NO GUARANTEES. Buy what you like, what speaks to you, stirs you mind, or something. Just don't buy it expecting to retire from it.
So, how did I get my weirdo collections? In the mid to late 1990s I began taking an interest in investing for retirement. As a contrarian by nature, and convinced of diversification, I really wanted a bit of bullion. So I scraped up a few dollars for the tiny bit I could afford and the 90% silver coins were of interest. I ended up in Japan and had the bright idea that a Japanese silver or gold coin might be an interesting way to get something. Interesting turned out to be an understatement!
I stumbled on the forums at PCGS and ended up looking at US coins and buying a 7070 Dansco type set album. I liked it, but could never focus on one series. I also found the 'darkside' forums--non-US coins and medals, and that was where I got hooked.
There is the concept of 'One From Every Country' (OFEC) that was mentioned there. Pretty descriptive, so I tried to make a country list, and started focusing on Japanese coins (including some out my pocket change). I found an out-of-print Dansco Japan type set album and bought it, later finding out how hard those are to locate, that was quite a feat. The Japan type set became my core focus in between work, family and other coin/medal distractions (there are always distractions).
Turns out the OFEC is easier said than done. Just what constitutes a country? Do the German, Indian and Italian states count as one country each, or just Germany/India/Italy? How far back to go? Does a major shift in government count? And (most seriously) what happens if one cannot decide WHICH coin to collect from the country. That's how I ended with all those Albanian coins--couldn't just pick one. I tried, but that just didn't take so I gave up and started pursuing the Zog coins. Basically, I had a hard time getting past the "A" section of the catalog and kept upgrading. There are more to buy, but this is a pretty good set so far.
I also fell in love with themes...how about coins with griffins (but what about the OTHER mythological beasties??), or from a particular year? Popular ones are lions, eagles and (at least for awhile at PCGS) the BBLs (bare breasted ladies). The last one had me looking for 'nekkid guys' or 'nekkid guys on horses' which was a nice crossover with bullion by the way (sovereigns). Add in medals and now there's a real multiplier when going after themes.
Several times over the years I've done the 'refocus'. The things that stick have been (for the medals) a few cool themes, or just some kind of art I like. For the coins it has been the Japanese coins, which is probably what I know the most about, plus the coins of King Zog's Albania. US coins fell by the wayside...no one series called to me and the relative prices are generally higher than a lot of non-US coins. I have kept the 7070 and occasionally have added to it, but it is not complete. It turns out I get way more bang for my buck with the non-US material. I can't spend unlimited funds on a hobby, so the dollars have to count.
As apparent by my so-called 'Professor' and 'Mary Ann' sections, I have a few leftovers on pages named for the two leftover characters from Gilligan's Island. If I ever rename those pages this paragraph will make no sense, but suffice to say, in both coins and medals I have several items that 'should' be sold, but won't be because I just plain like them.
Collecting coins and medals has led to a lot of reading on history, politics, and even economics and language. It's not as bad as throwing money away on Beanie Babies or a ridiculous wardrobe (I hope), and collecting can keep a mind active. It also feeds the collecting gene. Those that don't have it may confuse collecting with hoarding...but it's not the same , I'm sure of it.