My first coin show. Your average American probably has never been to one so for most of America it's not a significant event on their life rictor scale but, for me it was a much needed experience in a hobby I look forward to being a life long endeavor.
Before I bore you with the intimate details of being at my first show let me tell you a bit about why I collect what I do. I started out as a stacker of silver in early 2013, I viewed it as a chance to stash money away without being tempted to spend it, like in a savings account. As I bought my silver rounds an even better reason popped into my head, "what if I re-built my families fortune?" (My family was an early prominent farmers and store owners back 1800s, changing times purged us of any significant wealth and lands) and with that I buckled down for a greater propose. Now using the internet to educate myself like much people do, I stumbled across the idea of "junk" or "constitutional" silver, early American 90% silver coins you can buy in all sizes and shapes when your budget asks you to be more flexible. I held on to the idea but, it wasn't until I was in Maine on Pre-deployment leave that I picked up my very first 1878 Morgan dollar coin while I was out at a local jeweler with my grandfather and there was the moment my silver stashing attitude would come to an end.
The longer I held on to that Morgan the more the beauty started to change my ideas on what value really meant. I started looking past metal content and started to really feel the history. I started to romanticize about the stories and the changing of hands of each piece and it was then I realized what better way of passing down a fortune, something that already had histories attached to them, a story within a story of Americana. So fast forward a two years and you'll find me with a small yet precious collection tucked away and stepping through the sliding doors of the Econolodge in Jacksonville, NC all starry eyed at the modest exposition.
I honestly had only a vague idea of what I wanted to walk out with, which was a few pieces to add to my budding 20th century type set in MS64-70. I looked around at all the tables, so many people smoking and joking about the hobby, some vendors talking about the struggle in keeping up shop, some going on about the gold standards and I loved it. All the conversations aside I still had a mission which I accomplished. I picked up four pieces for my 20th century set at a bargain price and was returning to just browsing when I saw it, an 1872 Seated Liberty Dollar. It has been the last one I had been needing for my seated liberty set and I never could find one for any less than $400, this one had been graded by NGC so it was certified but, held a purple tag because someone had botched a cleaning job but, I didn't care...I need one and this price on the table was $260, I wasn't over the moon about condition but, I needed it.
I called my wife to ask if I could snap it up (after dropping $165 on completing the Kennedy halves in MS I only thought it polite) and after much weighing in her head she reluctantly agreed but, only because it was one I'd been looking for so long and ONLY because it was cheap, (she is the best wife ever) and she drove to the bank to withdraw $260 bucks in cold fiat cash. I ran out to meet her in the parking lot and grabbed the bills and ran back inside, how ever in the minute it took me to run in and out the vendor had acquired a line and I was forced to stand by and wait.
It was I that waiting that I got caught staring at the one metal that exists to ensnare men's hearts....gold. I knew I was suppose to be waiting for the line to disappear but, that soft sun like glow really just caught my eye. More specifically it was a set of Indian Head quarter eagles. They ranged from VF to AU, just beautiful specimens. Not realizing that I was staring like a fool, the vendor has mistaken me for one of his customers (after all in my zeal, I forgot to put the was of cash in my pocket and had it in my hands) and took out the coins to show me.
Now I the mental scales started to come on balanced. The dollar coin or one of these beautiful quarter eagles? Well...I was building a type set.....but my wife had only given me the money for that dollar....but, I would have change left over if I got the eagle....she would like change right? I've been looking for a reasonable seated dollar for the last 7 months....would I find one again? But....gold....1908....type set.....while I was standing there the vendor eventually made me an offer I couldn't refuse, that sealed the deal...another day for that dollar, which I was happy about because after thinking about it the dollar piece really didn't make me happy, I needed it but, that one didn't have the appeal to my heart that ones in a better grade did so, it kept me from a bout of buyers remorse.
Speaking of remorse, it wasn't until I sat in the car and my wife asked to see this coin I've been searching the past 7 months for did I realize I hadn't informed her of my change of heart. Uh, oh. The first and wrong answer was to sheepishly tell her I had change from a better buy and that I had spent the money on something else. Let's just all imagine what the rest of the of that car ride.....and okay. I was able to show her the finer points of the 1908 quarter eagle and she didn't rake me over the coals to bad but, I learned a lesson about not spending vast amount of cash under false pretense or in laymen's terms, keeping her in the loop.
We even went to the show the next day, except this time I held a fussy 3 year old while she finely found her nitch in the coin world, which happened to be world coins. It was a great feeling to at least for a moment share in a hobby together but, that story is a different post for another day.