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Contemplating the Future of Type Collecting
July 03, 2008

Starting the day off in the dentist's chair is no fun, but it happens more and more as my teeth age and fillings age and need replacement.

It gives me a chance to ponder the great questions of the age.

The one I chose today has to do with an e-mailed question that was thrown out to me to think about by Mack Martin, a type collector who puts together great exhibits.

I happened to give him the Bank Note Reporter Most Inspirational Exhibit Award down at the Memphis paper money show on Saturday. It was a great Baby Bonds exhibit (Southern state bonds with a vignette of a baby on them).

But Mack's question to me yesterday is another one of those coincidences I wrote about on Tuesday. It had a lot to do with state quarters, which I wrote about Wednesday.

He said he was a type collector. That means collecting just one of a given design instead of a whole series. But Mack asks, with the proliferation of state quarters (50 types), and Lewis and Clark nickels and its successor design (5 types) and other denominations starting off new design series, how will a type collector in 100 years cope?

The whole point of being a type collector is to have some of the fun and variety of the many series of coins struck by the U.S. Mint, but not the expense of having to buy all of them, including expensive key dates.

What will type collectors do in the future? Will this approach to collecting still exist?

They are all good questions. I will probably have to think about them again after I get out of the dentist's chair because I don't think I can quite trust any thoughts I might come up with during the treatment.

What do you think?

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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