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In Praise of Dirty Coins

Tom Becker


Canadian collectors are fortunate because it is still quite possible to acquire coins that have not been altered since being saved by non-collectors. Let's see if I can explain what I mean by offering another example.

I enjoy antique furniture. I'm especially fond of what is often called “country furniture” those being pieces made by less than famous craftsmen from readily available material. These items were produced to be used daily by average citizens residing in New Hampshire prior to the Civil War.

One of the problems associated with collecting this furniture is that because of its modest value and utilitarian purpose it was often refurbished. When grandfather's kitchen table began to look shabby it was given a new coat of paint. When Uncle Zeb consumed too much hard cider and broke the table's leg when he fell, a new leg was made from a fresh piece of pine. That's the sort of thing one usually finds at country auctions or in the back corner of a several century old New England barn. Same as originally made pieces are rare.

People who collect this furniture tend to be fanatics about originality and other things a normal person cares nothing about. It's much like a coin collector looking at a Canadian 1884 five cent coin in VF condition and wishing one owner hadn't attacked the coin with baking soda and the next didn't decide to dip it to death.

At least for me, discovering a coin that has not been intentionally altered since leaving its time in circulation is great fun. That it has come to me in this state is exciting. I can imagine the coin being part of the change found in Zeb's pocket. When he died, Louise put the coins in a worn leather purse and there they stayed for more than a hundred years.

My point in mentioning all of this is to suggest that as a coin collector you could assume the responsibility for passing on to future generations the same enjoyment you received from owning a coin that looks the same as when it came from Zeb's pocket. I've come to realize most coin collectors would be horrible collectors of New England country furniture. I'm delighted the coin people have mostly stayed away. If the average coin person found a rickety old table that has been in the barn since 1850 the first thing they would do is sand off that awful old paint. I hope you are an exception.

 

Tom Becker is a regular contributor to the Canadian Coin Reference Site, you can direct your questions directly to Tom easily by E-mail:tom@tombeckeronline.com or visit Tom's website @ http://www.tombeckeronline.com

 




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