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That Nasty Why Word

Tom Becker

Why do you own certain coins? Acknowledging the contents of your collection is entirely your business and you needn't justify it to anyone, I hope you can supply a quick response that satisfies you.

I've had the great pleasure and good fortune to have spoken and corresponded with thousands of coin collectors. Based on this experience, I've reached the conclusion that the vast majority of collectors don't seriously analyze purchases before they make them. They are often far too casual about spending money and rarely consider all the alternatives. Certainly the worst mistake most collectors make is to buy one thing while really wanting another.

As we prepare for the next numismatic season, now might be a good time to take a serious look at your collection with the “why” word in mind. As an active collector, I'm constantly reviewing what I have. I've found coins can be divided into three categories. Long term keepers, okay coins and things I really no longer care about. My experience has been that once I've tired of owning a particular item my interest in it is rarely renewed. About the only regrets I ever have about disposing of something has to do with the selling price and that should never be the true collector's top priority.

When doing my sorting I'm often reminded of why certain coins are special to me and this helps me refine my focus prior to making any new purchases.

I often suggest to even experienced collectors that there is always more enjoyment and satisfaction to be gained from owning 100 coins you really love than 500 you like. At the same time I am quick to admit that having quantities of the right stuff can be very enjoyable. I get great pleasure from collecting Extremely Fine Victoria Large cents. I collect these by grade rather than date. When I encounter the ideal coin that matches my particular criteria it goes in my keep box. Nearly every time I review my keepers I will find a coin or two that upon reexamination isn't quite as pleasing as it once was. This probably shouldn't happen but it does.

At least for me, reviewing every last coin I own on a regular basis is not only wise but provides a good excuse to have fun. I can honestly say that I've probably looked at the favorite coins in my collection a hundred times and they are still my favorites. When a coin passes that kind of test I know I've made the right choice.


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


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