Saturday, August 20, 2016

Old Hobbies Die Hard


Throughout my life I have had a multitude of hobbies and collections from baseball cards and comics to music and movies to books and coins to firearms and watches. Of course, these are in addition to the accumulation and collection of random information and facts which is a lifelong endeavor. While I don’t know exactly why I have enjoyed so many different hobbies I think it is due in large part because I need to keep myself occupied. More specifically, I need to keep learning about different things… I need to think. This helps to explain why there is such a variety and also why I keep returning to some of those previous interests.

The mechanics, ingenuity, and artistry found in firearms and watches have maintained my interest for years. While many, especially these days, would see these two as completely different from one another my appreciation is quite similar and my interest in them is rooted in some very basic concepts. This is what keeps my mind active as I study how they operate and simply appreciate the functionality and aesthetics of these items.

However, what I have found lately is that coins and currency have a stronger hold on my attention than all the other interests that I have had. The unexpected consequence of taking my son to a coin shop this past weekend is that it has once again piqued my interest in numismatics. As he was going from case to case studying each of the coins nearly organized on the shelves I couldn’t help but think about the time I used to spend searching for that one interesting coin.

Bear in mind that I was never one to collect the high end pieces that are purchased more for investment rather than appreciation. I gravitated to what interested me both in the actual coin itself, both design and origin, as well as the history that comes along with it. I would much rather study a well worn penny that has been used and witnessed a hundred years of history over an encased silver dollar in perfect condition minted this year.

It is also the different countries and periods in history which some pieces represent that fascinate me. This is the perspective that led to my interest in German States, Italian States, French States, Swiss Cantons, and British Palestine coinage. They all speak to a completely different time in history and aren’t immensely popular among collectors so they are usually affordable… and the stories and designs that can be found are compelling. It is that potential for a story that keeps me coming back to this hobby.

However, some things stay the same. We usually begin with the simple wheat penny which is where I started many years ago and where I am starting my son. Who knows, maybe this is something that we will enjoy doing together. Only time will tell but, at the very least, there are a lot of pennies for a lot of thoughts… and stories.