Coin prices frequently make headlines in the hobby press. It's news when a coin auction brings $20 million or a single coin sells for more than it would cost to buy a luxurious home.
With all of this hype about rising coin values, run away markets and fortunes being spent by the rich and temporarily famous, it's easy for some collectors and a dealer like me to feel insignificant, if not downright inferior.
It may sound like a bad case of sour grapes, but being old fashioned, I still think of numismatics as a hobby. For centuries, people have been attracted to collecting coins because they found these objects curious and interesting. There was and still is something fascinating about these coins that extends beyond what the thing might be worth in money to the next guy. It's fun to look at a Canadian token and think about how this form of money served the needs of rugged settlers who were determined to survive in an uninviting land. When a collector looks at a set of the Canadian Centennial coinage do they admire the beautiful designs and think about the heritage of a great nation or are these objects boring to a “serious” numismatist because they aren't worth $10,000?
Early on, I was fortunate to meet some fine people who loved collecting coins. They spoiled me. They taught me to respect these numismatic treasures for the enjoyment collecting them can offer. They provided the inspiration. I needed to learn all I could about what it was I was collecting. I soon discovered coin collecting was a hobby enjoyed by intelligent and inquisitive people. I wanted very much to become part of this group. It never occurred to me that only wealthy people should populate the hobby. Please excuse my lasting innocence.