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.
Putting together a website is completely outside my comfort zone. Every year, my goal is to do a few things that are just that--growing vegetables, adopting a crazy dog, or perhaps putting together a website. Stagnation is the road to brain rot. As my computer skills generally go no further than Google, email, hobby sites, and shopping...well, this is a HUGE step. By the way, my idea of 'code' involves a crypto geek in the military.
The start of this has been a completely ridiculous conglomeration of collectible numismatic items. "Incoherent in scope" might be a good descriptor, but the types of things included on this website is fodder for another post. After seeing several of my fellow collectors putting together some pretty fascinating websites, somehow I was inspired.
So, the steps were pretty easy (or not).
1. Decide what the heck you might want to do on a website.
A show-off site? An information site? Photos? Sell stuff? Blog? (In my case I had no blogging plans, but here I am). Mostly I want to share photos, plus some of the numismatic trivia I have learned.
2. Pick a domain name and make sure it's available.
Easy enough to do with Google. In my case, I looked no farther than my goofy dog (not the crazy one mentioned above). He also serves as a good mascot at the top of the page.
3. Pick a host and decide if you are going to go for a freebie or pay for it.
Sounds easy, but really a pain in the rear to figure out. I wanted something user friendly (ie drag and drop) and solid/likely to be around awhile. I spent a far too vast amount of time deciding. Sorting through the chaff...and realizing that my goal is pretty much making a website I will look at and maybe about 10 other people, I did not have to work so hard figuring this out. I went with Weebly, came close to choosing 1&1, and thought Wix looked good too (Wix had something about not being able to change themes once you start, if I'm not getting my sites mixed up).
Turns out tons of them have the same overlord, I mean owner...so really, whatever. I like Weebly as it has been super easy, and I'm sure 1&1 (and dozens of others) would be just fine. I THINK Weebly may have some restrictions on upgrading your account if you plan on selling stuff in volume. I'm not planning on selling so that did not bug me as much.
One thought is whether or not you will want to use WordPress. That started as a blogging thing, but sounds like it has done quite well being able to use building blocks to do stuff. It sounds great, I just didn't bother.
The only thing I haven't been able to 'find' so to speak is a way to add a guest book page. Of course, that is so old school now, that is probably my answer. Oh well. Comments will have to do.
4. Bite the bullet and just register.
It was super easy, and gets one moving. Many of these sites have a freebie version, but that can be limiting in terms of features, space/pages etc. Also, then you are apparently a 'subdomain', namely instead of starcityhomer.com, I would have starcityhomer.weebly.com or something of the sort. Nope, if I'm doing this, it needs to be mine. I think I paid about $150 to include at least 5 years of my domain as well as services for 3 years?? I'd have to check. Kind of cheap as hobbies go.
Oh, and speaking of 'it has to be mine', I did NOT opt to do the obscured registration. When you have a domain you have to provide email, address, phone # etc. This information is available to the public. You can have the honor of paying extra to have your host register in their name. Unfortunately that does mean in the legal sense they really are the owners if there is ever an issue. I sincerely doubt that the big guys are going to start stealing website domains out from under people (not really a good business practice), however my occasionally conspiracy theorist brain just can't handle that. So, I used one of my throwaway emails (and have gotten all of about 4 pieces of spam in 3 weeks) and used a PO Box...even though that is not 'allowed'. Well it took, so I did it. Okay, end of digression.
5. Put up a 'landing page' of some sort and just get started.
I have one, it points out how this is barely getting started, but it's okay if people look around. I started off with a page of one collection that I had professionally imaged. Then I had to do some work.
In the Weebly case, building the site has been easy. Super intuitive, and easy to find things when I have a question. Again, Google is my friend (except when it's not). But, this leads me to the next part...
6. Learn how to make content.
By that I mean, either start your blog, put up your information, or in my case, TRY AND LEARN TO TAKE PICTURES. My hobby is picture centric. In only the last two weeks I have learned a ton. Someday I may end up getting a more professional set up, but for now a stable table, a newish phone (mine is an iPhone 6), a box to rest the phone on, and some lighting has done wonders for my pathetic photo taking. It's not outstanding, but it's good enough to get started. In only a couple weeks I can already see which photos need to be retaken (someday).
I also started using PicMonkey which is an online photo editor with just enough features for me to do what I want. No fancy Adobe program, no $$$ DSLR...yet. My photos are already improving with only a bit of effort. There are other photo programs, but their names escape me at the moment.
The lighting consists of a couple of LED gooseneck desk lamps from Home Depot. A lot of numismatic folks who post about pictures seem to like LED or halogen. Lots of technical things and something to learn about another day. Maybe next year's comfort zone expansion can be some actual photography knowledge. As in, the science and technical aspects.
8. Decide when to tell people about what you are up to.
I have only told one person outside my immediate family about this, and I don't think he has done more than a quick peek from when I had only 1 or 2 pages. Once I start filling in some of the actual information, I may start sharing this, but until then, this is public, but pretty private. I'm a long way from search engine optimizing!
9. This blog thing.
I had no intention of starting one, but after a bit of wine, it suddenly seemed like fun. At the very least put down the steps of getting started.
So until next time (or the next bit of wine)...