I’ve seen it happen many times in the past few years. An avid new collector storms into the hobby and buys lots of coins but then hits critical mass and thinks about leaving numismatics. What can you do as a collector who has reached the “burnout” phase to rekindle your passion for numismatics? The first thing I would suggest is to get all of your coins together and lay them out on a table or desk. Take a good hard look at them and decide what deserves to be in the collection and what does not. If you are like any new collector, it is likely that in your initial burst of enthusiasm, you bought coins that you shouldn’t have. In retrospect, they may be ugly or they just don’t fit in with the core collection you have. My best advice is to jettison them.
Now I’m not suggesting a fire sale. The best way to sell the coins is an orderly, organized fashion. You might do it yourself or select a dealer to help you. Or, you could always choose to put the coins in an auction. If possible, give yourself at least 90-120 days to plan and execute a strategy that makes sense.
It is likely that some of the “duds” that you originally purchased are going to be losers when it comes time to sell. Assuming that you are out of love forever with a specific coin, it’s alright to sell it for a loss. Just make certain that use this as a learning experience and try not to repeat this specific mistake in the future. (FYI, even smart dealers sometimes have to sell coins for losses. Really smart dealers get out of their bad deals as quickly as possible and reinvest their money in other coins that, hopefully, will be better deals).
The next thing I would suggest to recharge your battery is to take the next $500-1,500 you were going to spend on a coin and use it to form a basic library. Buy the five to ten essential books that should be in every collector’s library and then buy useful books in your chosen field(s) of specialization. I would also suggest buying a core group of auction catalogs from the 1980’s and 1990’s as well. Find a numismatic literature dealer and tell him that you collect Liberty Seated quarters or Type Three double eagles and the chances are good that he can recommend some older but still very useful catalogs that can greatly enhance your collecting experience.
Taking the numismatic literature theme one step further, get a current auction catalog from a specialist dealer like George Kolbe, Charles Davis or Fred Lake and buy some interesting 19th or early 20th century books or catalogs. As an example, the upcoming Kolbe sale of the John Pittman library has some really wonderful books and catalogs that will make a great test for your numismatic DNA. If you find everything in the catalog to be boring and the history of numismatics and its personalities has no appeal to you, maybe you are being sent a message: coins just aren’t in your blood. But if you find some of the obscure books, catalogs, letters and manuscripts to be very exciting, then you can take this as a message: coins are in your blood but you just need to reinvigorate your interest.