The following is excerpted from Clifford Mishler’s Coins: Questions & Answers:
Q: Is there any course available which would teach me the “know-how” of the hobby of coin collecting?
A: Not in the academic sense, but neither is there a school to train presidents. Desire is the motive and application is the means to acquiring a working knowledge of coin collecting. There are, of course, valuable aids to a thoughtful program of self-application. The better-run coin clubs include lectures and panel discussions of hobby community perspectives in their activities. Authoritative books, embracing virtually every phase and field of the hobby, are readily available from coin shops, mail-order dealers, and at coin shows and conventions, as well as being frequently available for purchase at bookstores and on a loan basis from libraries in even small communities. Subscribe to one or more of the national coin publications. They will keep you informed of the references currently available, and through the book reviews they publish, they will acquaint you with the theme of the latest offerings that become available. You should also build yourself a personal library as you build your collection. “Growth through knowledge” is more than a catchphrase.
Q: It seems to me that this hobby of coin collecting is based entirely on dollars and cents. Is this correct?
A: If your premise were correct, there would be little collector interest in Conder tokens, which have appreciated but slightly, relatively speaking, over the past 200 years, nor an expanding interest in transportation tokens, minor Mint errors, wooden nickels, and literally dozens of other specialized categories within the numismatic realm. The hobby collector — one who is motivated to build a collection chiefly for the pleasure, relaxation, and increased knowledge that it affords him — is the kingpin of the hobby community. Without him, the dealers, coin press, and numismatic speculators would not exist for an hour. The collector came first; the others followed to serve his need. It is collector demand that underpins the market; absent that factor and the value ingredient would not exist.