A New Year of Collecting

Welcome to 2013 — in the offing as you read these words. We are all here — escaped the Mayan prediction, just as we all escaped Y2K over a dozen years ago. Other than asteroids, war, and the like, civilization seems to be safe for a while. Seriously, I hope that 2013 will be a year of good health, happiness, and prosperity to your and your family.

As to numismatics — collecting coins, tokens, medals, and paper money — I foresee a nice time ahead. The weakness in the American economy is unfortunate, of course, but if anything the low return on money market accounts and uncertain movement in the stock market, have prompted more people to invest in things they enjoy owning. This is probably why so many expensive watches are featured for sale. A Timex for $20 probably keeps time as well as a $20,000 watch hand crafted in Switzerland, but the latter may be more fun to own and display. As for me, my watch cost all of $150 and seems to serve its purpose well.

This has resulted in numismatists concentrating on filling the gaps in their collections. Go back a half dozen years and if you were to spend $30,000 on an 1856 Flying Eagle cent, you might think to yourself something like, “Well, I am losing the 5% interest earned on my money, so it cost me $1,500 per year to have this coin.” Today, that is not relevant. Beyond these thoughts, gold and silver coins have a special appeal. The other day I was talking to a stockbroker who was about to write a market report for clients. He asked me what he might say about gold coins and bullion as they are not securities, but a lot of people ask him questions. I suggested that, indeed, they are not stocks and bonds and they do not pay dividends, but there is a comfort level in owning, say, a nice pile of American gold Eagles. Following what I have heard others say, I suggested that someone with a lot of funds available might put 5% to 10% into such coins. I also suggested that by all means they take possession of them and put them in safe deposit box — not leave them in some hands elsewhere, as having others store coins has resulted in many disappearances over the years. I suppose if I were living in one of the European nations that is experiencing great economic problems and very unstable currency, I would up the percentage to perhaps double or triple.

The hobby of coin collecting is meant to be enjoyed. One way in 2013 to enhance your pleasure is to buy some interesting books. I have mentioned this before, but it cannot be repeated too often. A good place to start is to look on the Whitman Publishing LLC website and, perhaps pick out some titles that I have written. I have done my best to combine useful narratives, nice photographs, and interesting information. Two “fun” books are The 100 Greatest American Currency Notes and The 100 Greatest Medals and Tokens, both of which have nothing to do with federal coins but will introduce you to a panorama of other items in numismatics. Of course, most of my books are on federal issues. The Expert’s Guide to Collecting and Investing in Rare Coins has been a best-selling favorite. Although I don’t want to overstate its usefulness, I do suggest that if someone buys this book and spends a few days reading it they will be well on the path to being an expert in buying, selling, and other aspects of coins.

Again, to you the best of 2013!

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