Partly it was the challenge. Little or big. This is something that never changed in my life. I enjoy taking a concept and develop it. Not to completion, to me nothing is completed. Only finished. And this fits very well into coin collecting.
Imagine that you close your eyes and hold a piece of metal in your hand. That’s a piece of metal, nothing else. Then you start examining it; it has a shape, a texture, weight size, smell, etc. It is still just a coin, it could be anything. Real, fake, old or new, you may even find out that it isn’t really a coin just a piece of metal.
Then this coin had to come from somewhere. All I knew first was where I got it from, I found it, somebody who cared about me gave it to me, I traded it for something else, etc.
Now it is time to figure out what it is. In most cases you know exactly when you get it. But sometimes it is part of a pile of unknown coins from an unknown source. For that matter, I still have some coins labeled unknown.
Then I find out, hopefully exactly, what it is. Somebody reads the information to me, or just identifies it when I trade a coin by sending me a KM number, so that I can look it up in the catalog.
One could think that that’s the end of it. Now you know what it is. But no. This is when it starts.
Then I hold that round piece of metal in my hand. Let’s say it is a 5 Pengo from 1938. A large piece of silver coin. From the time when my grandparents were kids. They were poor. I wonder if they had a chance to hold any of these coins. Probably not too often. Maybe they had to work for a whole week to have one of these. The quarter of a monthly income.
Or let’s take a US dime. Say from 1977. When I was born. While this baby was crying in Hungary not knowing anything about the world, it could have been any one of millions of people who may have had this dime. Those days you were still able to buy something with it. They have used it in an exciting country, during some interesting times. People who used are about my parents’ age, or even older. They are close to retiring. Who are those people? What can they tell you? What have they seen? What was around them when they used this coin?
And the associations never end. I can spend hours with one coin. It is not just about touching it and examining it. Maybe that coin is back in the book and I’m still influenced by it. I’m looking up the history of the country which used the coin, trying to find words in a dictionary to figure out what is written on the coin. Then I wonder off to read some articles about a language and the people.
Sometimes I feel that what I’m doing is not even coin collecting, the coins are just inspiration to find interesting things in life.
The more I learn about a coin, the more it means. The next time I take it out of the holder, I associate so much more to it.
Of course when you work with hundreds of coins or even more, it is not possible to research all of them. Some are more interesting than others. Some inspire more than others. Some need to stay on the shelf for years until they become inspirational or interesting.
And let me admit: some are there because I just want to own them, I want to have the most possible number of unique coins in my collection. Yes, that’s why it’s a hobby and not a project with a completion.