Why I'm selling 95% of my collection - Details Update in OP
Ready for a long read?
Over the past 12 or 15 years I've had a tremendous time assembling what is in my mind a pretty cool coin collection. It has been a wild ride and I've learned a TON about the hobby, met amazing fellow collectors, worked with tremendous dealers, and it's just been a blast. Truly, the whole process has been so very enjoyable. I've probably been to a dozen major shows and another dozen smaller ones. I know at least two dozen dealers and an equal number of "big time" collectors by name. Although many of the regulars here have disappeared over the years, many of you have come along on this journey. I've enjoyed sharing (oversharing?) my acquisitions and the overall experience.
Why sell? Well, it isn't because anything is "wrong" or that I've fallen on hard times. The number one answer is that the opportunity cost of owning these things has just gotten too high for my comfort. Over my span of collecting I've purchased and sold probably close to a million dollars worth of coins. I've tried to let a few nice ones go, at times, and many truly stellar coins have fallen into my lap at other times.
Maybe three years ago I had an epiphany of sorts about life in general, my relationships, and my financial goals. I should say "our" financial goals, because part of this epiphany has been that my wife has spent a good part of our almost 30-year marriage not having enough of a voice when it came to financial things. She's been tremendously patient and kind, and never once complained about time away at shows or money disappearing into shiny trinkets. So now, it's my honor and pleasure to turn that around a bit. I'm not that old or sick in any significant way, but it also occurred to me that our time here on this planet is finite, coins are just things, and they certainly don't love me back.
To be clear, I'm not dropping my ANA membership or abandoning the hobby. I certainly don't intend on forgetting the hard-gotten knowledge I've acquired "in school". Some of the tuition was expensive, but not too much, and many kind mentors kept me out the ditch on many occasions. I thought about naming the dealers who were instrumental in all of this, but I'll just mention Mark Feld as a person without whom I'd have never had so much fun or gotten so deeply involved. His approach to collecting and his "rules" have pointed me the right way. A few years ago I sold my top-ten registry set of Peace dollars and Larry Shapiro handled that for me. Just a handshake and a few phone calls. No contracts. Everything worked perfectly. I love that stuff.
Why else? Well, I've been acquiring a few coins here and there these last couple of years, but in reality, not enough that I really have my finger on the pulse of the market. I've been away from shows for a while, and if your axe isn't sharp, it's easier to get hurt.
Here's a few more random thoughts in no particular order:
- Auctions aren't as fun as they used to be. I can't say exactly why, but the ever-increasing percentage of seller fees and buyer fees and shipping fees really turned me off to the big auctions houses. Ultimately, all of this is built on the backs of collectors. Many collectors have unhealthy habits surrounding their passion, and extracting too much from them bugs me a little.
- I sold a big part of my core collection on two prior occasions - the Peace dollar set, and a bunch of coins that weren't "all there". With the exception of a coin or two, I've never thought much about it, and never regretted it. It was surprisingly easy to let them go.
- Selling is actually pretty fun. I've used virtually every format out there, and there is "no perfect way" to liquidate things. I enjoy seeing them go to people who will appreciate them.
- It has become enormously clear that for me "the chasing" is more fun than "the having".
- I have been tremendously blessed to have enough disposable income to participate at this level. That this is a rare privilege is not lost on me.
- Quite frankly, this forum isn't what it used to be. For the time and place, you all here (and hoards of good people who aren't here any more) have been a big part of the fun. Recently, it isn't so uncommon to see only 3 or 4 people here at times. Third-party grading is also changing, and not every part of that sits well with me.
- Not-so-secretly, I intend to use some of this capital to fund some other hobbies. Coins have never been my #1 hobby, and it's time to re-adjust.
- Hollis Pincock ran a nice little B&M not too far away from where I live. He recently passed away and a very nice obit is in the latest Numismatist. I certainly didn't make him rich, or even stop by that often, but I don't think our area will see the likes of his B&M again anytime soon.
- Photographing coins is almost as much fun as the coins themselves.
- It is enormously possible that I'll jump in with both feet again at some future time. I'm probably done with type collecting and collecting by series, but a really meaningful "box of 20" sort of project could be fun.
- I gained a HUGE appreciation for classic silver commemoratives. I gained an enormous distaste for modern commems, and just about anything else the mint has done in my lifetime.
- Coins might actually disappear from our daily lives before stamps do.
- I'm keeping a few coins (about 10) that are meaningful, for various reasons.
- I'm letting many coins go that are very dear to my heart. Mostly, it's because of the situation or people who were instrumental in acquiring them. It's a healthy thing.
- Someday I intend to own a nice Small Eagle 1/2 dollar.
- The method of dispersal has already been arranged, but I'll share more about that later.
- I shut down all of my registry sets. What an actual relief that was. I loved playing that game, for a time, but no longer! If I get back in, I'm going to collect whatever random thing suits me.
- I invite all collectors to take an honest look at the finances behind collecting. Even when I've made "a bunch o' money" selling, the actual yearly return on investment lags considerably behind almost every traditional investment class. The difference represents the "rent" you pay to own and enjoy these coins. To this point I've been perfectly satisfied, but the balance has shifted. Time to act.
Here's the first coin I ever purchased, at the time of issue:
Details of the sale will be posted in a separate thread in the BST area of the forum.