We can always learn from the past. And with numismatics, this is still relevant. Waldo C. Moore wrote this in The Numismatist in December 1918:
It is difficult to give any general advice about collecting; it is a matter of taste. If one means to become a collector, and not merely a possessor, it is wisest to choose perhaps a somewhat limited field. To collect everything numismatic means to acquire much that does not interest, and therefore one often becomes discouraged. The more acquired the more one finds there is to be gotten, and the farther one seems to be from a constantly receding goal. Decide what interests most and then make the tackle. In this way the collector may in time be able to assemble a collection that will be worthwhile.
Now and again the collector may hear of a certain specimen of numismatic art fetching a very large price indeed, and so be led to believe that that represents its market value; the consequence being that should another piece of the same design be placed within reach, he may think it a very good stroke of business to buy it for something less than was paid for the first. The fact is, that until one is made fully aware of all the circumstances, and perhaps sentiments, associated with the sale of any numismatic item for what seems to be a high price, one cannot pronounce any opinion as to whether the price was excessive or the reverse; and it is most unsafe to take it for granted that because a thing sells for a certain price to a certain collector today it will sell for the same price to a different collector tomorrow.
It is in the possession of some special line, after all, that the real joy lies. Numismatics is a broad term. The average dealer in numismatics has a hotchpotch of unrelated specimens on tap. The collector does not want his collection to be like that unless he be the proprietor of a town museum. The average collector should choose some special line in numismatics and follow the same consistently, seeking for the finest examples in season and out.
A collection is desirable when it means something. The collection should be made a means, not an end. There is a charm and beauty in it when it is chosen with good judgment, which the devotee can never adequately express nor the Philistine ever understand.
Notes: Waldo C. Moore, born in West Baltimore (now Verona), Ohio, July 23, 1874, followed a career with the People’s Banking Company of Lewisburg, Ohio, from 1899 onward. He followed his own advice and specialized in several areas including obsolete paper scrip, Civil War tokens, and other fields with interesting stories attached to the various issues. In 1919 he was elected president of the ANA. For a long period of years, he was a prolific contributor to The Numismatist.