On Collecting


I guess I have always been a collector.  In fourth grade I had a stamp and a coin collection.  Not sure how I started.  I remember my father taking me to visit a friend of his who collected coins.  I was amazed as he brought out binder after binder filled with silver dollars, Indian head pennies, Washington quarters, Liberty coins.  The visit may have reinforced the hobby but I was already a collector when I visited.

There was a coin and stamp shop on Pond street toward the Mill Street parking lot.  Although I frequented the shop, I didn’t buy much.  In the 1950s it was still possible to find collectable coins in change.  One of my fourth grade “jobs” at school was taking money to the bank in the early afternoon.  Joe Crosson went with me.  Joe was a pretty big guy; I joke that he was my body guard.  Before going to the bank (First Federal on Mill)  I stopped  at our house and quickly went through the coins, exchanging anything I thought worth collecting.  I actually ran a small business selling coins to fellow students.  John Mundy was doing the same thing.  We must have started a lot of kids collecting coins.

Some Saturdays I would go to the bank and get $50 in quarters (or dimes, or nickels).  I would go through them looking for anything to add to my collection. Then I’d go back and get another $50 in quarters.  Some days I would go through the change in the cash register at Profy’s appliance store.  And then a friend of my Uncle Frank’s  collected tolls for the bridge commission.  Bill N. Would bring me buffalo nickels for my collection.  For several years coins was probably my most serious collecting.


Every year I bought proof coins and a few  years saved rolls of uncirculated pennies.  I probably got the collecting bug from my mother.  She was buying proof coins at the same time and actually continued it much longer than I did.  She also had many “collections.” Unfortunately proof coins did not make a good investment.  Although they only cost a few dollars in the 1950s and 1960s, by 2000, they were over $15.  If I sell them I won’t even get back the cost price.  The exception is pre-1965 sets which are silver. I am hoping to get a better price for them.  In addition to the proof sets, we bought some commemorative coins — some are silver and a few are gold.

My coin collecting habit faded but did continue minimally in more recent years.  As well as buying proof sets, I would occasionally go through my change bank adding recent dates to the collection. I was particularly interested in Washington quarters since I almost had a complete collection. The state series was a challenge.  Don’t have all of them.   Even today I’d be tempted to buy any quarters missing from the Washington quarters book.

Although Eli will inherit my main coin collection if interested.  I don’t think he needs several hundred proof sets and commemorative coins.  I just finished an inventory and plan on going to a coin shop in Doylestown to sell them.

I was a stamp collector and post card collector the same years I was doing my heavy coin collecting.  My Aunt Lucy fed both the stamp and post card interest.  She had a small stamp collection which she eventually gave to me and would frequently bring me postcards from trips that she made to Philadelphia.  Another Aunt Annie (the 3rd Ward hairdresser) also gave me many old postcards that had been sent to her and family in the early 1900s. Maybe it’s the Irish that are collectors?

Stamps came from a variety of sources.  Regularly I raided the Bell Telephone trash cans for envelopes that yielded a lot of current commemoratives.  I had collector friends and so there was a lot of trading.  Relatives saved and bought stamps when they traveled. And I took advantage of stamp companies “free” offers.  I subscribed to some first day covers and sometimes bought entire sheets of commemorative stamps.

Like coins, up through the early 2000s, I added to these collections.  Some years I bought the collection of commemorative stamps for the year.  I began to buy Bucks County postcards on eBay due to my interest in local history. And that spread to cards of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, even Nantucket.  For a year or so I sold some unwanted post cards on eBay.

Coins, stamps, postcards aren’t my only collections.  Books obviously.  Then there are buttons, original paints, crafts. Should I consider all the LPs in the basement a collection?  Or the cameras, lenses, and other photographic equipment I have saved.

Time for sorting, organizing, and some selling.




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