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To the Veteran Collectors - How has your collecting strategy evolved over time?

I am very curious how long-time collectors have evolved over time... what spurred this change in direction? What lessons have you learned along the way that you don't mind sharing? If you could start collecting again anew, would you do things differently... and is any of that translatable to a "new guy" like me?

I am a newer collector (started April 2020), and I primarily focus on U.S. Half Cents and Type Coins. Early copper is my favorite.


  • silverpopsilverpop Posts: 6,563 ✭✭✭✭✭

    never has changed i keep it simple collect what gets my notice and why do things differently when they work?

    lessons: keep the collection simple, never stick with just one type of coin or grade and always make sure you set a price range for coins

    41 packages sent and got

  • percybpercyb Posts: 3,266 ✭✭✭
    edited May 19, 2023 11:46AM

    @MidLifeCrisis said:
    Like many, I collected when I was young and sold my collection when I was a teenager. I started collecting again around 2005

    Here are some things I've learned about collecting and about myself:
    - In coin collecting, the three most important considerations are eye appeal, eye appeal, and eye appeal.

    • With few exceptions, I don't care for coins in grades below XF.

    • Less is more. I would rather have a few coins that are truly rare, eye appealing, high grade, and otherwise desirable, than a lot of coins of lower quality with fewer appealing attributes.

    • Trading up is a good strategy. Coins in your collection today may be the stepping stones to better coins in the future.

    • Buy the book before you buy the coin.

    • Auction catalogs are extremely valuable and useful resources. You can learn A LOT from them.

    • A grade is just an opinion. PCGS provides an opinion. Other grading services provide their opinions. CAC provides an opinion. The more valuable the coin, the more these opinions matter. The more consistent opinions you can get about a coin, the better.

    And some thoughts specific to colonial era coins (but may apply to other coins):
    - Stay away from harshly cleaned coins...but realize that a lot of early copper has been brushed, oiled, lacquered, waxed or otherwise "conserved" and you may be ok with buying those coins. Personally, I shy away from them and seek out coins that I believe are original...but I recognize that conserving copper has been a widely accepted practice in the hobby for years and there are a lot of nice coins to be found this way.

    • Lots of wisdom here.
    "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world." PBShelley
  • gumby1234gumby1234 Posts: 5,172 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Well when I started aa a young kid I would just save coins from change. I got my first Red book in 1975. I read it and learned a little.

    Later in my late teens to early 20's I started visiting coin stores and buying coins that I could afford. I got some more books. One on grading and another on counterfeits and read those. When I got new coins I would compare them in the grading book to what grade the dealer had assigned. Finding out many dealers had overgraded the coins I delved deep into learning how to grade them myself.

    In my 30's I got interested in error coins. Bought a couple of books and read them. Learned about how coins were minted and how certain errors happened. I bought some really nice error coins for decent prices. I also decided that my slabbed Roosies set would be all MS 67 or higher and the hunt was on for any upgrades I could find.

    These days I collect whatever catches my eye that I can afford. I bought a nice raw 21 Peace dollar last year. I bought a bunch of nice Buffalo nickels, a nice IHC, a couple of 1982 no mintmark Roosies. I am all over the place, but only buying nice quality material.
    Also upgraded a bunch of Roosies in the set recently with some 67+ coins. You wouldn't believe how hard it can be to upgrade these from 67. There are 4 MS68 in my set as well, including the 49S. I learned a lot about toning over the years as well. There are some beautifully toned dimes in this set as well.
    Here's one example. MS67+

    Successful BST with ad4400, Kccoin, lablover, pointfivezero, koynekwest, jwitten, coin22lover, HalfDimeDude, erwindoc, jyzskowsi, COINS MAKE CENTS, AlanSki, BryceM

  • CharlotteDudeCharlotteDude Posts: 2,785 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Originality… if it’s been brightened and/or tightened, it’s not for me.

    Got Crust....y gold?
  • BoloBolo Posts: 105 ✭✭✭✭

    The only two things that have really changed is that I have more money than I did 40+ years ago when I first started collecting, and I've learned to be a bit more patient and wait for the right coin rather than get the one I can find right away.

  • erscoloerscolo Posts: 353 ✭✭✭✭

    I would second or third several of the comments. I am close to 50 years on and off in the hobby, and I have more money, more patience and more experience than I did all those years ago. You cannot take it with you, so enjoy what you collect and be picky and educated about what you collect.

  • WCCWCC Posts: 2,188 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @NeophyteNumismatist said:
    I am very curious how long-time collectors have evolved over time... what spurred this change in direction?

    I had three intervals in my collecting up to 1998. Mostly lack of money. When I resumed in 1998, I evaluated what I could afford and liked, somewhat as you described in your other thread. I focused on a low but somewhat increasing number of series up to 2010 which is when I changed to my current interest. I sold most of my prior primary collection to "cash out" due to a big price run-up. I had been able to buy coins ungraded cheaply but wasn't about to pay "full freight" at much higher prices.

    @NeophyteNumismatist said:
    If you could start collecting again anew, would you do things differently.?

    Given what I know now, I'd collect what I do now in 1998 or shortly afterwards. Problem is, I didn't know what I know now and had less money. I missed buying coins I didn't know were available for sale and passed on others I could have bought. Unlike most collectors, few to no second opportunities, as I haven't seen the same coins or anything close to comparable since.

    @NeophyteNumismatist said:
    is any of that translatable to a "new guy" like me?

    The approach you outlined in your other thread makes sense to me. You're ahead of where I was in 1998 for sure.

    One thing you will likely find is that your tastes will most likely migrate "upward". That's how I'd describe my collecting. It's partly related to money but not entirely. That's the primary reason I don't anticipate changing my primary interest. I don't like any other series more anyway but other coins where I have a high interest are mostly too expensive.

  • ms71ms71 Posts: 1,432 ✭✭✭✭✭

    After paying way too much tuition, I finally learned my key lesson. Don't settle. Just about any acquisition provides a "fix", but only for a short time. Until you learn how to properly assess a coin, and how to forego the periodic "fixes" and wait for the really special ones, you assemble a bunch of stuff that you look at later and ask yourself "what was I thinking".

    Successful BST transactions: EagleEye, Christos, Proofmorgan,
    Coinlearner, Ahrensdad, Nolawyer, RG, coinlieutenant, Yorkshireman, lordmarcovan, Soldi, masscrew, JimTyler, Relaxn, jclovescoins

    Now listen boy, I'm tryin' to teach you sumthin' . . . . that ain't an optical illusion, it only looks like an optical illusion.

    My mind reader refuses to charge me....
  • BoloBolo Posts: 105 ✭✭✭✭

    I realize I only answered half of the question so here is part 2. I don't know that I would do much differently if I could go back. Some of the series that interest me now were simply unaffordable when I first started out so its not like i could specialize in early bust coins with my allowance :smile: . Slabbed coins didn't exist so it was raw or nothing. I did buy a few very obviously dipped coins but they weren't very expensive and I think everyone needs to get burned a time or two to learn. Sometimes I'll still take a chance tho...

  • OAKSTAROAKSTAR Posts: 4,856 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @NeophyteNumismatist said:
    To the Veteran Collectors - How has your collecting strategy evolved over time?

    Thanks to this forum, fortunately or unfortunately a lot.

    Whatever @ricko says, I agree with!

  • NeophyteNumismatistNeophyteNumismatist Posts: 739 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ricko - I am going to have to ask you to weigh in here. :smiley:

    I am a newer collector (started April 2020), and I primarily focus on U.S. Half Cents and Type Coins. Early copper is my favorite.

  • AUandAGAUandAG Posts: 24,349 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I focused on two things in collecting once I reached maturity................ uh maybe.
    In the beginning it was kids stuff as I had kids money.... pennies and nickels from circulation.
    Then once I got out of high school and went to work it was stacking silver ..... This was 1964. That lasted a few years at most as silver dried up in circulation. I accumulated about 3,000 ounces before it ended. (200 lbs).
    Then the wife and kids came and coins were on hiatus.... Once the last kid left, 30 years ago now, I decided that CC dollars were my passion. Of course the GSA sales of the 70's was a spur but I did not get in on those sales. I started about 1992 and bought as many GSA dollars as I could afford. That continued for just about 20 years and was paying $150 per dollar at the end. What they looked like did not matter as they had to meet my price target and as long as they were in the GSA box with cert, I was happy.
    I sold 95% of them off to pay cash for a home when I retired in 2011. They served their purpose and I was able to let a lot of collectors carry on where I left off.
    Somewhere along the way I decided that I wanted to try some other coin collecting and filling books. So, I put an ad in the paper to buy coins/collections. Wow, that was a kick. Bought a lot of stuff and flipped most for a small profit and then put the profit into the GSA coins. Filled a bunch of books along the way as well. Those became my rainy day fund for vacations and splurges. Have done a lot of traveling with that fund and now most is gone on to other collectors.
    It was a great hobby but I've come to the point were interest has waned due to eyesight problems and just plain getting old.
    I would do it all again.
    The only thing I have regretted is not keeping the gold I got along the way. I could have but gold was not my interest.... but it should have been. As many times as I have moved that silver, gold would have been a damn lot easier.

    Registry: CC lowballs (boblindstrom), [email protected]
  • Dave99BDave99B Posts: 8,240 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I was pretty scattered early on, and was purely a type collector. I had a little of everything. Loved it.

    Over time, I sold most of the type material, and focused more of a few specific series. I'm thinking that's where I'll be from here on out, but who knows.


    Always looking for original, better date VF20-VF35 Barber quarters and halves, and a quality beer.
  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Well... Over the many years I have been collecting, my focus has shifted.. For a while, as a kid, I collected only from change (paper route, lawn cutting, snow shoveling), then later it was coin shows and shops for series that interested me. Now, and for the last fifteen or twenty years, I collect just those special coins that interest me for design, quality or scarcity (or some combination thereof). I like this style of collecting - no restrictions. Cheers, RickO

  • Pnies20Pnies20 Posts: 1,862 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As a kid, I would look at my red book and see all the different type coins and wanted em all! I came pretty close to filling an old Whitman type album.

    As I got older, I gradually became more focused on a series. As I was learning about the series I was okay with problem coins in details holders to research coins.

    Now I’m pretty set in my ways about what I want and won’t entertain most that don’t fit in terms of eye appeal.

    BHNC Associate member #AN-07 … 88 and counting.

  • Tom147Tom147 Posts: 1,303 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Like most here I started collecting with the Whitman Lincoln cent folder my late father gifted me. Then cents, Jeff nickels & my beloved Roosies from pocket change. Bought a crap ton of silver Roosies 2 for .25c in the late 60's. Like many here, my coin collecting budget didn't allow for early coinage. Stuck with 20th century series. Only in the last several years have I got into slabbed coins. Advice, buy what YOU like and can afford. Mistakes I made along the way, I focused on completing a set in ms65. Then decided ms66 was affordable. Now I'm up to ms67 with over half the series in ms67+. NOT the way to do it. Buy the best you can afford. Yes it'll take longer but you'll be happier in the end.

  • SmudgeSmudge Posts: 9,057 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I switched to gold, especially old dirty gold.

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