More of the same. Parcels. Customers. Miserable weather. The only difference was that the car got covered in a fine spray of dirt thrown up by cars passing by the shop on the main road, and a bird, which appears to have dined on something quick-setting and durable, deposited the digested remains in the middle of my windscreen.
I spent 27 minutes on the phone at one point, being cross-questioned by a customer with “jut one last question” being promised more than once. In the end he said “Well, why do people collect if you can’t make money from it?” My reply was that collecting is about the pursuit, the assembling of a collection which is greater than the sum of the parts and, with luck, the knowledge you gain.
If you want to make money you take a second job, put the wages in the bank, buy shares or buy precious metals.
He said: “Oh!”
It’s a good thing the boss wasn’t in. That’s half an hour of my wages down the drain just so that my pearls of wisdom can bounce off someone who thinks numismatics is the way to get rich.
Before that we had someone in who kept asking for dates of coin which don’t exist. He couldn’t get his head round the idea that there were no pennies minted in 1941, 42 or 43 as there were thought to be too many in circulation. In 1949 most of them were held back, and they were still being issued as new coins until 1956. In 1950 and 1951 very small quantities were struck and were stored until 1956 when they were sent to Bermuda (all the 1950 mintage and most of the 1951 too). They say that British dealers started travelling to the island and offering £1 for 1951 pennies – 240 times its face value (there were still 240 pennies to the £ in those days).
There is one coin known from 1952. I don’t know why, some arcane Mint purpose. In 1953 they struck pennies for commemorative sets. Only one is known from 1954, used for die testing. Somehow it escaped melting and ended up in circulation. Then there were no more until 1961. They were struck every year until 1967 and all the pennies struck in 1968 and 1969 were dated 1967. Again, I haven’t a clue why. After that they minted them in 1970 for the final £sd sets and, after a thousand years, the old penny made way for the decimal issue.
It’s amazing how many we have being brought in , and even more amazing how many collectors haven’t bothered to learn that there are years when certain denominations weren’t stuck. The saying “Before you buy the coin, buy the book.” does not seem to have reached everybody.
The pennies in the picture are Australian pre-decimal pennies – but they are the same size and shape, just that they have a kangaroo instead of Britannia.
Interesting history of the penny in the last century.
Yes, much under estimated. They were the coins of my childhood – searching my change for Victorian and Edwardian coins and rare varieties. All worn flat and worthless of course! 🙂
Well, I now feel very knowledgeable about pennies. Like your customer, I would have just assumed that they minted some every year. I will seek out an opportunity to introduce my new knowledge into a conversation.
The classic is the 1933 penny. People are always saying “Do you ever find 1933 pennies in the ones you buy in. No, we don’t. We also don’t find many crocks of gold or hen’s teeth in our daily grind.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think their collection–stamps, coins, carnival glass, whatever–is worth more than they would likely get if they sold it. The penny minting–and its irregularity–is fascinating.
I was once talking ab security for my collection when someone asked “Who would want to steal that?” It occurred to me then that it had no real value except to me and a few other keen collectors. 🙁
Actually, that was very good advice. And as I read your columns, I am struck by how much there is to know in your business.
Not so bright, these numismatists
It attracts extremes – some are brilliant, others would struggle to beat an amoeba in an IQ test, or a personality contest to be honest.
Sometimes people ask how to make a small fortune in the wine business. The answer is “start with a large fortune”.
Ha! Very true. 🙂