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More than a grade: Any coin can hold a special place in a collection
By Robert R. Van Ryzin
September 28, 2017

The “Coin Finds” column in the December 2017 issue of Coins magazine (on newsstands in October) includes the report of some fun a mother had hosting a coin party in which she allowed four of her adult offspring to take some coins from a cloth bag.

The coins, which were by report nothing rare, included such classics as Walking Liberty half dollars and various silver coins.

The mother had inherited some of the coins from an aunt and had used them as a springboard for launching into collecting after her daughter bought a coin price guide at a bookstore.

To my point of view, the real story here is not one of rare or great finds, but that any coin, no matter its grade or mintage, can be a cherished item.

As those who search through rolls of coins know, part of the fun is in the hunt. It is also in knowing that the coin played a role in your life.

I enjoy looking at and collecting coins in high grade. There’s something about a gem Morgan dollar that attracts me more than its circulated counterpart. However, some of my favorite coins are ones that have seen circulation.

There are four double-row boxes of coins I put together in the 1970s that I’ll never break up. These were coins I carefully stapled into two-by-two cardboard holders, graded and cataloged.

They were the coins I learned to grade with. Most were wheat cents and the like, recovered from circulation.

All remain in the boxes as they remind me of my early days in the hobby. I even used them years ago in a photo shoot for the cover of Coins magazine.

My favorite coin in those boxes is a 1928-S Peace dollar. It’s a worn coin and not worth much more than silver value. (I remember, as a kid, having consulted an old coin value guide and realizing the 1928 was the valuable coin, not the 1928-S, and wishing there was a way to get rid of that “S.” Fortunately I never went down the path to coin alteration.) The reason this dollar is special to me is that it relates to my grandfather on my mother’s side.

I didn’t know much about him. I remember he passed on a Christmas eve in the early 1960s. But when I was around seven years old, on my birthday, he pressed this coin into my hand as a gift.

Now, having heavily delved into my own family history on both sides, I can appreciate this piece for its connection to my grandfather. Nobody else will, but I will.

Collecting is, thankfully, more than just about a coin’s grade, rarity or value. It’s about lives and memories. This is why “Coin Finds” remains one of the most popular columns in Coins magazine. It’s a chance for others to share their cherished memories with those with similar interests.

Thus, you don’t have to be a skilled writer or storyteller to share here. It’s something everyone can do and everyone else appreciates reading. This can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be. Even the scruffiest, doggish coin can have a special place in a collection.

Happy collecting!

This article was originally printed in Coins magazine. Subscribe today.



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