I used to be interested in numismatics. I don't mean that I just had a collection of pennies or nickels, I mean that I was seriously interested. I studied books about the history of coinage, the history of the U.S. Mint, I learned about and even owned a few "pattern" coins (these are coins minted outside of their actual release date, usually to show to Congress for approval).
I lost interest after prices started going sky high in the 80's. It didn't help
that it became harder to see small details as my eyes aged. I sold off almost
everything a few years ago and now only have two remaining coins: an 1878 silver dollar and an 1855 one cent piece. That's all I kept, and I can't even tell you why I kept those two: they aren't particularly rare or unusual.
I came across those two coins the other day and realized that I still have
some interest in this subject. However, even though prices have calmed considerably, I don't want to invest any money in this hobby and I really don't have any place to keep and display a collection anyway. I filed that under "impractical".
This morning I had an epiphany. I can "collect" coins again - I can do it virtually. There are thousands, maybe millions of coin photographs on line now. Most are copyrighted, but for a virtual coin collection, the thrill is in the hunt: all I need to keep is a link to the pictures I "collect".
I think this could be a lot of fun. Creating a virtual "type set" (one each of each major design and type) would be trivial; creating a date set (one of each date and mintmark for a particular series - like all Lincoln cents from 1909 to 1958) might be a little harder, especially if you search for better condition. Finding die varieties could keep you hunting for years..
Here's a picture a a Flying Eagle Cent. This was the first "small" cent minted in the U.S. The first year of issue was 1857 but patterns exist from 1854 to 1856 - I owned one of the less expensive patterns at one time.
The owner of that picture asks:
If you would like to use any of the images for your own personal numismatic web page, club web page or numismatic newsletter then please do so. The only thing that we really ask is that you not redistribute them, by themselves or with any other collection of images, in a commercial manner or in any other similar virtual library of coins and/or tokens web site. If you do use our coin scans then it would also be nice, however not required, if you would give credit to us or our web site with a link back to this web page.
That was easy enough to find. Finding pictures of all the various Flying Eagle patterns is going to be much harder.. setting a Google alert could be helpful once you think you've exhausted all existing resources.
You could use the same idea to collect stamps, antique cars, whatever. Your collection only needs a little disk space and isn't an attraction for thieves. Put your collection in a slideshow and enjoy it whenever you want.
I've started "collecting" already. This is going to be fun.
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