U.S. & World Coin News and Articles

The Happiest Days of a Coin Owner's Life

There’s an old saying that the two happiest days of a boat owner’s life are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it, indicating there is not much enjoyment in between, or that the costs and maintenance associated with owning a boat can take much of the fun away.

Not so with coins. There’s a certain level of happiness associated with every day of owning a coin. The day you buy it and the day you sell it are merely bookends to what can be a long period of enjoyment.

One of the first coins I ever purchased for more than its face value was a low-grade 1803 Large Cent. I can’t remember the exact year in which the transaction took place, but it was sometime in the mid-1960s because I used the money I made from culling silver out of circulation to buy the coin. It was at an auction held during a meeting of the St. Petersburg Coin Club, and I remember falling in love with the coin at the auction preview. It was glossy brown and low grade, but all of the details were clear and it was so, so old, especially compared to the "modern" Buffalo Nickels and Mercury Head Dimes that were the mainstay of my collection at the time. I remember being so anxious waiting for the lot to come up, then the tension of the battle itself, and the thrilling taste of victory as I handed over my $10 bill in payment and accepted my treasure. Those enjoyable memories have stayed with me for decades, and have been repeated many times over. I could not tell you what happened to that 1803 Large Cent, but I’m sure I pulled it out of my coin box many times to admire it and relive those moments. At some later date, I eventually sold the coin for what must have been a small profit, as I don’t recall any seller’s remorse from having taken a loss, or any wild dancing for having sold it for a windfall profit.

Unlike a boat, the cost of owning a coin (apart from the original purchase price) is low. You don’t have to rinse off the salt water, change the oil, pay slip fees, paint and wax, buy a big truck to haul it, or watch as it depreciates in value over the years. Inexpensive coins can be kept at home, where you can enjoy them at your leisure. You might have to pay for a safe-deposit box for your more valuable coins and you may have to visit them at the bank, but they’re always there to remind you of how and when you purchased them, the friends you’ve made along the way, and the things your coins have taught you about history, geography, finance, biography, metallurgy, and so on.

Want to have a happy day? Go buy a coin!

Ron Guth is President of PCGS CoinFacts. He has been active as a coin collector, dealer, writer and auctioneer since his introduction to numismatics in 1964.
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