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The Advanced Collector

Originally published in July 10 2015

I received Blog feedback yesterday from a GFRC customer and consignor. Included in the email was an important question concerning what I believe to be an Advanced Collector since this term is frequently used when writing individual coin descriptions. This question is simple but yet the concept of an Advanced Collector could be interpreted in a host of ways depending on the GFRC customer's numismatic experience. Therefore, today's Featured Topic will focus on what I believe constitutes an Advanced Collector.

Let's start the essay with a Google search for the definition of "advanced". Dictionary.com provides the following definitions:
  1. placed ahead or forward

  2. ahead or far or further along in progress, complexity, knowledge, skill, etc.

  3. pertaining to or embodying ideas, practices, attitudes, etc., taken as being more enlightened or liberal than the standardized, established, or traditional and,

  4. far along in time.
The second definition well summarizes my perspective on the personal characteristics of an Advanced Collector. This is an individual with years of collecting experience and most likely, a numismatic library with concentration on topics of interests. However, collecting may be an inappropriate word choice with respect to experience. Rather knowledge accumulation better expresses the capabilities of a collector who possesses the necessary skills to evaluate individual coins in terms of rarity, surface conditions and striking characteristics. Let's explore this thought further...

Rarity - Numerous printed guide books and online resources are available towards pricing ranges for graded coins. But these publications fall short when rarity comes into play. Does a high guide price translate into rarity...in many cases yes, but it takes years of knowledge to recognized when the guides are inaccurate. Collectors of Liberty Seated coinage have learned that the guides are not well maintained and a deep understanding of the individual dates and their grade rarity are paramount to locating fair prices and value.

Surface Conditions - The grading services have done a reasonable job is sorting out the problematic coins from those that are unmolested original. But the entrance of "market acceptable grading" to maintain the TPG business model requires that collectors look beyond the TPG holder label and develop some working expertise in metallurgy. There are silver coins in holder that have never been cleaned and others that have pretty secondary toning. Many coins in TPG holders have been dipped to secure the highest possible grade. Advanced collectors have developed the visual skills to quickly identify those coins that have original patina. Many original coins may not have the best eye appeal so there are trade offs to consider.

Striking Characteristics - This is probably the most challenging for collectors to understand when deciding to move into the early type denominations. There are a host of variables that impact the striking of an individual coin. Working die hubbing quality, die preparation and maintenance, planchet quality and striking force are not often considered by those collecting 20th Century coinage. But for Bust and Seated collectors, these parameters will vary across mints and dates. It is a complex situation that requires years of study and the inspection of hundreds if not thousands of coins to have the expertise in recognizing the best possible struck specimens for a personal collection.

When I use the term Advanced Collector in a coin description, my mindset is that of...

An individual with years of numismatic experience inspecting coins of the design and denomination being pursued on my price list. Armed with this knowledge, the individual is able to properly evaluate coins towards being a source of personal pride coupled with being a sound long term financial acquisition.

Having strong financial means is also helpful but working knowledge is the primary consideration with I use the term Advanced...