Why You Should Be a Collector

May 14, 2020

By Patrick A. Heller


With so many people today facing sudden financial hardships and possible time constraints, it may make sense to consider whether to pursue a pre-existing or new hobby.

This could apply to every hobby, not just numismatics.

Hobbies can involve a financial cost for references, memberships, supplies, and objects.  Such costs for a “discretionary” activity might be hard to justify right now. Also, those who have more demands on their time because of family or work responsibilities imposed on them may have to limit forms of recreation.

Despite these possible negatives, I think pursuing a hobby now makes a lot of sense for most people. Here are some of the advantages.

With many people working reduced hours or having lost a job, they have a lot more time available to find something to do with their day. A hobby can introduce something new and different to the routine.

  1. Even if finances are a problem, you don’t necessarily have to spend anything, or at most very little, to pursue a hobby. You can do free online research to make plans for any future expenditures. If you already have a hobby such as numismatics, it might make sense to review your holdings for items to sell for cash flow. Even if you don’t plan to sell anything, it is still sensible to periodically review your holdings to plan future activities.
  2. Hobbies are often an activity that can be shared with children, grandchildren, and others. Some families are now spending more time together than before, so take advantage of the opportunity to pursue a hobby with each other.
  3. I think one of the basic benefits of pursuing a hobby is it expands your mind. You could learn about and experience a greater appreciation for nature, history, art, physical fitness, culture, geography, foreign languages, science, technology, and a whole host of other subjects. Obviously, different hobbies would only involve some of those categories and none of them would encompass all subjects. Note, though, that numismatics can include a wide variety of these categories.
  4. Pursuing a hobby can also be relaxing. Very little about most hobbies involve time pressure or a rigid schedule. Individuals can be as active or passive as they desire. Devoting time to a hobby can take the mind off of the current almost non-stop mostly negative news coverage.
  5. There is the potential to meet new people, even if mostly virtually, that could develop into continuing friendships.
  6. Pursuing a hobby could impact a future career. I don’t think there would be any chance that I would have spent most of my working days as a coin dealer if I had not first been a collector. It is possible that, in the process of pursuing a hobby, you could develop skills, specialized knowledge, or make contacts that lead to a more rewarding future work path.

In the early years of this century, I was a member of the American Numismatic Association Future of the Hobby Committee. In one of the meetings, I proposed the thesis that children who become coin collectors and stick with the hobby, on average, will be more successful adults. As a measure of success, I suggested that numismatists might achieve greater educational attainments and average a higher income in their work life. While we were unable to figure out any means to actually measure this data, the committee members said the thesis made intuitive sense.

The reason behind this idea is that young numismatists learn about the subject as they acquire skills in commitment, organizing and classifying, budgeting, mathematics, and even social behavior. When describing my thesis later to teachers and Scout leaders, they generally agreed that it made sense, although a few pointed out that the same or similar skills could be developed through a number of other hobbies.

For the question of should you be a collector, I think the answer is a resounding yes.

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