The Hobby of Kings
Coin collecting or numismatics has been enjoyed for thousands of years. Usually it was a hobby reserved for kings and nobility, and throughout history has been known as “The Hobby of Kings.” Fortunately today numismatics can now be enjoyed by “kings and queens” from all walks of life.
Collectors have many choices when they begin collecting coins, which can sometimes be overwhelming. Many collectors seek our advice about where to start. Our philosophy is simple. Find your passion and follow it. This may include deciding your favorite coin series, whether it be gold coins, Lincoln Cents, Morgan Dollars, Error Coins, State Quarters, foreign coins, tokens, or paper money.
Many non-collectors are puzzled by this passion for coin collecting. “Why?” they ask, and “From where does this passion come from?” Although perhaps it is impossible to fully convey to non-collectors, when a collector sees a certain coin, it makes them happy. There are many forms that this happiness can take that vary from person to person, and depending upon what images and feelings various coins evoke, whether it be history, nostalgia, geography, the Old West, patriotism, moral character, integrity and history of those depicted on the coins, power, or any number of other feelings.
For me it started at age 6 with going to the bank with my brother and father once every six months or so to view the five or six gold coins that his father had given to him. It was such a thrill for us to see something old, gold, and beautiful. When viewing the coins it made me think of the Old West (even though all our relatives that I knew were from Wisconsin!) It was fun for my father to show us, too. It also led me to discover that our great uncle actually did leave Wisconsin in 1849 for the California gold rush.
After you have decided on what coins pique your interest, be realistic about your goals and objectives as well as your budget. Depending on your specific objectives, you will need to decide if those objectives are attainable. Prices to acquire specific coins can range from ten cents to thousands of dollars.
In the back of your mind, always be thinking, “What is the most fun I can have with coin collecting given my budget?” Some cost-free ways to enjoy collecting are to attend a coin show, make a coin exhibit for school or a coin show, join an area coin club, attend a numismatic talk or give a talk, read or write an article relating to your interest in coin collecting. Some coin clubs also give travel, educational scholarships, and other prizes for participation. Some recommended coin clubs are The Madison Coin Club, which meets the first Monday of each month at 7:00 PM. Contact Tom Gallway (608) 238-1722, for more details. At the state level there is Numismatists of Wisconsin (NOW), which hold meetings, have coin shows, and publish a quarterly periodical. For more information see www.numismatistsofwisconsin.com. There is also a national coin club, the American Numismatic Association (www.money.org). Other specialty clubs can be found under Collectors Resources section on this site. See also resources for new coin collectors.