I used to be interested in numismatics. I don't mean that I just had a collection of pennies or nickels, I mean that I was seriously interested. I studied books about the history of coinage, the history of the U.S. Mint, I learned about and even owned a few "pattern" coins (these are coins minted outside of their actual release date, usually to show to Congress for approval).
I lost interest after prices started going sky high in the 80's. It didn't help that it became harder to see small details as my eyes aged. I sold off almost everything a few years ago and now only have two remaining coins: an 1878 silver dollar and an 1855 one cent piece. That's all I kept, and I can't even tell you why I kept those two: they aren't particularly rare or unusual.
I came across those two coins the other day and realized that I still have some interest in this subject. However, even though prices have calmed considerably, I don't want to invest any money in this hobby and I really don't have any place to keep and display a collection anyway. I filed that under "impractical".
This morning I had an epiphany. I can "collect" coins again - I can do it virtually. There are thousands, maybe millions of coin photographs on line now. Most are copyrighted, but for a virtual coin collection, the thrill is in the hunt: all I need to keep is a link to the pictures I "collect".
I think this could be a lot of fun. Creating a virtual "type set" (one each of each major design and type) would be trivial; creating a date set (one of each date and mintmark for a particular series - like all Lincoln cents from 1909 to 1958) might be a little harder, especially if you search for better condition. Finding die varieties could keep you hunting for years..
Here's a picture a a Flying Eagle Cent. This was the first "small" cent minted in the U.S. The first year of issue was 1857 but patterns exist from 1854 to 1856 - I owned one of the less expensive patterns at one time.
The owner of that picture asks:
That was easy enough to find. Finding pictures of all the various Flying Eagle patterns is going to be much harder.. setting a Google alert could be helpful once you think you've exhausted all existing resources.
You could use the same idea to collect stamps, antique cars, whatever. Your collection only needs a little disk space and isn't an attraction for thieves. Put your collection in a slideshow and enjoy it whenever you want.
I've started "collecting" already. This is going to be fun.
Got something to add? Send me email.
More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2009-11-07 Anthony Lawrence