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The Joys of Completion

For years I wrote a column in Coin World titled “The Joys of Collecting.” Many of those columns, as well as columns and articles I have written for other publications, addressed those things about numismatics that are appealing – the reasons why I wanted to collect and those that attract others to the hobby.

Of course, there is not one set answer, and over the years I have often said that it is the combined allure of art, history and romance, coupled with a store of value and the possibility of a nice return on your investment. For me, these are all factors and over my nearly 70 years in the “business” they have all contributed, not just to success but also to great satisfaction in my work.

However, in my personal collecting, I was always extremely motivated by the aspect of completion. This is true for many others, as is shown in the great enthusiasm for Registry Sets of various designs and denominations. Perhaps for me this was enhanced by getting my start in the days of coin albums and folders – physical reminders of what was in a collection and, more importantly, what was not. The fulfillment of a goal was very important and could be very satisfying. I recall putting together a set of Proof Indian cents, and from the beginning, finding the prized 1877 was my prime objective. Once I had obtained one of those, which happened surprisingly early in my quest, finding the others was not much of a challenge and, for me, a little bit of the excitement was lost. It was still a great thrill, however, when that last hole was filled in my “National” coin album. Once that thrill was past, however, I was ready to move on to something else. For me, often a complete collection would be sold in order to move on to my next goal.

Outside of collecting coins, I guess this love of completion affects other areas of my life. Each book I have written also goes through similar stages. There is the planning, the early stages where it seems it will never be done, the times when you have to “cut the cord” and say a chapter is complete even though there could be so much more and, of course, those final moments when the manuscript is sent off to the editor or printer and you have the knowledge of a job well done and finally completed. I also enjoy crossword and other such puzzles and am very pleased when I can finish a particularly difficult one without using a dictionary or having to ask for help. Of course, even the most difficult New York Times crossword puzzle ends up in the recycling bin, whether every space is perfectly filled out or not. The fun for me is in the process, not the finish.

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