Coin Collecting on a shoe-string budget
Probably everyone at one time or another has collected coins. Some people save old wheat pennies they find in change and throw them in a jar. Other people collect state quarters, and some others collect certain coins like nickles or dimes, and try to build a complete collection over time. A lot of folks think coin collecting is the hobby of king's and truthfully, it's often called that. A king may be able to build a giant collection of coins, but I promise you, that the small collection a young boy has that may only be worth a couple of dollars, is worth just as much to that boy as a King's coins are worth to him.
I can tell you right now, anyone can collect coins and you don't have to be rich. In fact I have quite a large coin collection, and I have had a very low paying job all my life. There are a lot of ways someone can build a great coin collection over time, while still paying the bills.
Coins are so neat looking, I remember when I was a young boy, my grandad would go upstairs and open a safe we had, inside was a metal drawer containing some old Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars. My grandad would let me sit and play with the coins often. I would hold one by the edge on the table top and flip it on the side with my finger and the coin would spin wildly around on the table like a toy top. The coins were frosty silver or whitish colored and were beautiful to look at, they were large and heavy, not like the little coins we have today. I often wondered how many folks actually carried these things around in their pockets everyday, it only took a few of them to weigh quite a lot.
After my grandad passed away back in 1969, my dad sold the old silver dollars, I don't think he really wanted to, but my grandad had left the family farm pretty deep indebt, so dad had an auction and sold about everything except our house and the barn, to pay off the huge bills. It wasn't too long after that when dad got bitten by the coin collecting bug. At first it wasn't coins but paper money that got dad started. I remember dad saw an ad in the back of some magazine, where a guy was offering to pay for every dollar bill you sent him that had a certain treasurer's name on it, that name was: " Joesph W. Barr ". My dad looked in his wallet at some dollar bills he had, and sure enough he had one that had the signature " Joesph W. Barr " on it. Dad took the dollar from his wallet and kept it in an envelope in his old roll top desk, and after checking his money for several days afterwards, dad found some more of them. Sometime later dad mailed the dollar bills to the address in the magazine ad, and sure enough he soon got a check for the dollars plus an extra dollar each. Dad continued searching and sending in them " Joesph W. Barr " dollar bills for awhile, then after a period of time, the guy no longer was accepting them.
Dad then started buying a few Indian head cents and some buffalo nickels. Then as he got older and money seemed to get a lot more tighter, dad quit buying coins and turned to a new hobby, doing sweepstakes. But by this time, I was hooked, I just loved the look of the old coins, the silver ones and the old copper large cents, they just seemed so neat compared to the boring coins of everyday use. Now as I am writing this article, I stumbled across an interesting article about the " Joesph W. Barr " dollar bills from the 'American Numismatic Association' it said, the following: "At one time, it was speculated that the notes signed by Treasurer Joseph W. Barr would eventually hold a high numismatic value since he was in office for only 23 days in 1968-69. However, during that period, a total of 484 million notes were produced with his signature. The high quantity produced dictates that the notes will never be considered rare in our lifetime. Interestingly, in 1995, numismatic author Alan Herbert stated, "A Barr note deposited in an interest-bearing account in 1969 would have been worth over .00, figuring 6% interest compounded annually. A circulated Barr note kept in a safe-deposit box for 26 years is worth today."
So that explains why that guy probably quit buying the " Joesph W. Barr " dollar bills, it seemed they might of been collectible for a little while, but they just never caught on. Today you can still buy them on eBay and other places, sometimes for slightly more than .00. Oh well, it is something that has stuck in my mind every since I was a little boy, I will always remember dad checking his wallet for " Joesph W. Barr " dollar bills. Now as I wipe the tears from my eyes, yes I am sad to say dad has been gone a few years now, and I still miss him very much, especially when I sit here alone and think about the times we spent together in the years gone by, oh well, at least it's always great memories when it comes to you, dad.
Now as I regain my mental composure, if I ever had one, I want to say that I never lost the desire to collect coins. And as I got old enough to work full time, and live on my own I started and built a fairly large coin collection. I didn't have much money as I never went to college or trade school, and I have always had a job working as a laborer, so I had to fine ways that I could build up my coin collection cheaply.
One day, I was looking in the back of a Coin collecting magazine that I had purchased at a local news stand, and I found an ad where you could join a coin collecting approval service. They would send you certain coins once a month, and you could select the ones you wanted to buy and keep, and if you didn't want them all, just mail the others back to them, and the next month they would send some other coins for you to examine. What made this program better than the other approval services I had often seen was, you could tell them what type of coins you were interested in, and what price you were willing to spend monthly. I selected miscellaneous U.S. coins, everything from old large cents from the 1800's to silver mercury dimes and buffalo nickels etc. And I chose to only spend a month, for me this was perfect and for about a year or more I stayed in the program and over time I got a nice bunch of coins from them, then something happened and the company folded or went out of business, as I never received any more coins from them and I no longer saw their ad in the magazines.
Overtime I discovered other cheap methods to aquire some nice coins, one of the methods I still use, is something that anyone can do to start building a nice coin collection. Just start searching and examining your pocket change, I still find wheat pennies and silver war nickels, and many pre 1960 nickels, and sometimes a silver coin in pocket change. One time about two years back, I was at a local store and got some change back, I noticed two of the quarters I received looked kinda white in color, examining them closely after I got back home, I discovered they were both pre 1964 silver Washington quarters. I figured somebody must of needed money to buy some cigarettes or milk or something, and must of used some of their old coins, I was just lucky enough to had been there at the right time and place to get them in my change.
One place to find a lot of nice coins is to go to different banks and buy rolls, search through them carefully, and you will be surprised of the neat finds you may come across, plus just add a few out of your pocket change to replace the ones you want to keep from the rolls, and you can turn them back into a different bank for some different rolls of coins to search through.
Another place that is fairly good for finding some rare coins is at local flea markets, be careful though as many of the folks at these places are very aware of a coins value, and they often ask for much more then what the coins are worth. Read up on the coins you are interested in buying, or better yet, take along a pocket coin price guide with you when you go to buy coins, it's better to be thrifty then foolish.
Anyway, now after collecting coins for fun over the years, I have almost every Lincoln cent that was made from 1909 up to present, and I have every Jefferson nickel from the first one that was made in 1938 to present, and I have a nice sized wooden chest full of miscellaneous U.S. coins, including silver dollars, mercury dimes, buffalo nickels, Large Cents and many more unique and rare coins. I figure the coins will make a nice gift someday, something to leave to my daughter and her children, and maybe I can spark that fire in them, that my dad started in me, the joy of coin collecting. So start checking your pocket change today, you just never know what rare finds you may come across.
There are several different types of computer software that are made for coin collecting. One program that stand's out is ' Coin Collector Professional ', it is made for any coin collector, from novices to professionals, and it cost under . ' Coin Collector Professional ' may be downloaded and tried for free at this website address:
By Robert W. Benjamin
Copyright © 2006
You may publish this article in your ezine, newsletter or on your web site as long as it is reprinted in its entirety and without modification except for formatting needs or grammar corrections.
About the Author: Robert W. Benjamin has been in the software business on the internet for over 5 years, and has been producing low-cost software for the past 25+ years. He first released software on the AMIGA and C64 computer systems in the late 1970's-80's.