I am continuing to go through old Coin World columns and other items in connection with writing my autobiography. I came across this, published nearly 20 years ago in Coin World in April 2001 (if you don’t subscribe to this newspaper you should; plus, you might enjoy my weekly “The Joy of Collecting” column, which has been running there since 1961! Also, see my 2019 comments at the end:
Enjoying the Trip
Coins are interesting to collect in any market season. Recently I’ve been discussing the coin market as opposed to the stock market. In terms of cycles, the two rarely travel in synchrony. More often than not, when coins are “hot,” stocks are soft. When stocks are “hot,” coins are sometimes soft—but the stock market has had more soft spots than the coin market has.
Come to think of it, this lack of traveling in the same direction probably has spelled opportunity or at least a perceived opportunity for many people. No doubt, back in 1999 and 2000 when “dot.com” and “e-commerce” stocks were all the rage, probably many dedicated coin collectors held back on their purchases so they could buy some E-Toys, Webvan, Priceline, or one or another of the “hot” stocks.
Today in spring 2001, probably some stock market players are holding off sending checks to Wall Street and, instead, are thinking that an 1879-CC Morgan silver dollar sure looks nice!
There are many differences between coins and stocks. Coins do not pay dividends. Coins are not dynamic, in the sense that coins to not merge or become acquired by other coins, nor does their management change.
Stocks just “sit there.” One does not take out a stock certificate, study it under a magnifying glass, and show it enthusiastically to a friend who has read about such things, but never inspected one in the flesh.
Such comparisons could go on, but there is no point. Stocks and coins, although they are quite different, are often compared with each other as investments. However, they are as unlike as a fig tree is from an Alphonse Mucha poster.
Forming a coin collection is like going on a vacation trip—such as on Amtrak across the scenic stretches of the Feather River, continuing into Wyoming—or on the Delta Queen, leaving port in Cincinnati, cruising by Rising Sun, Indiana, and calling for a time at the old-time river port of Madison. The experience of forming a collection is a lot of plain old-fashioned fun, a “trip” filled with pleasure.
The next time you are at a coin club meeting or a coin show, seek out an old-timer, say someone who has been collecting for at least 10 to 20 years. Ask the question, “What have you gotten out of being a numismatist?” Then listen. The bottom line is that most people have enjoyed collecting. Some have made money, often a lot. Others may have lost money, but it is a very rare old-timer who has done so. But, all have found numismatics to be what has been called “the world’s greatest hobby.”
The coin market never sits still. There are always new fads coming into favor and old ones slipping away. Technology changes. About 30 years ago Jim Ruddy announced in one of
You do not have to send us your credit card. Just send us a copy of all of the information printed on the card, plus your signature authorizing us to use it.
Today, credit cards are more common than anything except freshly-minted Lincoln cents! Even my pet turtle receives credit card approvals in the mail (including a recent pre-authorized credit limit of $50,000, as she belongs to the National Trust for Historic Preservation).
Back in 1984 we installed a fax machine. Our attorney asked something like this: “I’ve heard about fax machines. Do you think I should get one?” (I am not making this up!).
Then for a period from about 1985 to 2000, or 15 years, we received dozens of faxes each day at the office. Today in 2001, very few faxes are received, and perhaps they will go the way of Western Union telegrams (when is the last time you received one of those?). Who knows?
Today in 2019
Hmm. Today, as I write these words for Coin Update, I can mention many changes since 2001. E-commerce and communication stocks, mostly in the pits in 2001, are now hot again. The names of yesteryear are history and have been replaced by Amazon, Facebook, and more. Cell phones were around in 2001, such as the Palm Pilot, but few people dreamed that iPhones with high-quality still and movie cameras would be everywhere, including in the pockets of schoolkids? And, who had ever heard of a selfie?
Drones were male honeybees back then, but today the bees are largely forgotten and a drone is a mechanical device with a camera that you can use to take pictures of your cows in the field (assuming you have a farm).
Taking a trip in April 2001? Get to the airport 15 minutes or a half hour before boarding time, go directly to the gate, wave your ticket and hop aboard. Going to New York City? Check out Windows on the World, the beautiful restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center.
As to Whitman Publishing, in 2001 it was a shadow of its former existence when it was headquartered in Racine, Wisconsin. In that year a drawer in a filing cabinet of a New York City publisher was devoted to Whitman and the yearly issuance of the Blue Book and Red Book. Meanwhile, way down in Florence, Alabama, the Anderson business empire had not yet thought of buying Whitman or, for that matter, having me as a numismatic advisor and director.
And, I could say much more. Today in 2019 so many things are different from 2001. Now, make a note to check in with me 18 years from now for another update!