In looking through Numismatic
Scrapbook Vol. 1, No. 6, published by Lee F. Hewitt in November 1935,
I was captivated by a brief article by Robert K. Botsford titled “Health
and Happiness in a Hobby.” Coincidentally, Mr. Botsford was important to me
during my early days in collecting and dealing coins in the mid-1950s. From his
Pennsylvania home he wrote me many letters about how a young man should conduct
his business affairs properly, adding his personal observations about the
market and human characteristics in general. At the same time, I purchased a
steady stream of coins from him, including a number of rare 1896 patterns that
once belonged to William H. Woodin, who lived near Mr. Botsford at one time.
Mr. Botsford’s words in the Numismatic Scrapbook are just as relevant today as they
were 85 years ago, and I take the liberty of reprinting them herewith.
Hopefully, they will provide some inspiration for you or a friend, as they have
done for me.
“As the years roll by, men learn and discover many
features pertaining to life that astonish them into a sense of wonderment as to
why these features were not noted before and duly exercised. It has been
customary to state that man should have an avocation as well as a vocation. Not
much was done about having both. Some developed an avocation as a side line,
while the vast majority went along completely satisfied with a mere vocation.
“Times have changed and so have men. The stress and
strain of modern life have brought about entirely different conditions at home
and in business. Life is rushing, and mankind is swept along with the vast
activities. And the family physician and the famous psychiatrist emphatically
assert that now, and as never before, do we all need an avocation—a hobby—to
balance our other activities. It is no longer a request. It is an imperative
order or command from those who really know what is required. Of course, men
may need food and clothes and shelter, but they also require variety and diversion
and recreation. No amount of hard work is too much, providing such is followed
by plenty of rest and recreation. And the right attitude toward work, which is
done without a sense of strain, realizing that sooner or later will come the
period of relaxation and opportunity to ride a hobby.
“Riding a hobby is the best exercise for the mind and the
body that has come to light in these many centuries. It makes little or no
difference what the hobby may be, providing it is the source of unlimited joy
and pleasure and satisfaction, coupled with a sense of doing some real thing
that is worthwhile to the individual mind. Like your hobby and ride it hard.
Give it the time and the thought that it requires. The pay in happiness, the
dividends in satisfaction, the compensation in pleasure will be more than
surprising. Truly, one reaps what he sows in the hobby field.
“No Kentucky Derby with all its horses is more
interesting than a survey of the hobby horses of an intelligent people. Men go
in for many and varied lines of hobby activity. Women go into the same field
with just as many variations [in] their hobby activities.
“There is no need to tell you what to collect or what to
do or how to do it. Find a hobby and follow it through. And in turn it will
follow you through the years and be a constant source of pleasure and
remuneration. Collect sea shells or butterflies, gather together the old coins
and stamps, seek the Ives prints, pick up Indian relics, work for the histories
and improve them if possible, do just what you wish and when you wish—but by
all means, have some sort of a hobby. Have an avocation as well as a vocation”.
With the bustling world
about us and the ever-changing panorama of economic reality, crime,
depersonification of the individual, loss of traditional old-time values and so
on, it is indeed comforting to know that a hobby such as numismatics provides
fellowship, a fascinating challenge, the opportunity for research and new
discoveries, and, if investment must be mentioned, a good track record of