Q. David Bowers Shares from The Numismatist, December 1918

Still relevant today, 102 years later

We can always learn from the past. And with numismatics this
is still relevant. Waldo C. Moore wrote this in The Numismatist in
December 1918:

It is difficult to give any general advice about collecting;
it is a matter of taste. If one means to become a collector, and not merely a
possessor, it is wisest to choose perhaps a somewhat limited field. To collect
everything numismatic means to acquire much that does not interest, and
therefore one often becomes discouraged. The more acquired the more one finds
there is to be gotten, and the farther one seems to be from a constantly
receding goal. Decide what interests most and then make the tackle. In this way
the collector may in time be able to assemble a collection that will be

Now and again the collector may hear of a certain specimen
of numismatic art fetching a very large price indeed, and so be led to believe
that that represents its market value; the consequence being that should
another piece of the same design be placed within reach, he may think it a very
good stroke of business to buy it for something less than was paid for the
first. The fact is, that until one is made fully aware of all the
circumstances, and perhaps sentiments, associated with the sale of any
numismatic item for what seems to be a high price, one cannot pronounce any
opinion as to whether the price was excessive or the reverse; and it is most
unsafe to take it for granted that because a thing sells for a certain price to
a certain collector today it will sell for the same price to a different
collector tomorrow.

It is in the possession of some special line, after all,
that the real joy lies. Numismatics is a broad term. The average dealer in
numismatics has a hotchpotch of unrelated specimens on tap. The collector does
not want his collection to be like that unless he be the proprietor of a town
museum. The average collector should choose some special line in numismatics
and follow the same consistently, seeking for the finest examples in season and

A collection is desirable when it means something. The
collection should be made a means, not an end. There is a charm and beauty in
it when it is chosen with good judgment, which the devotee can never adequately
express nor the Philistine ever understand.

Notes: Waldo C. Moore, born in West Baltimore (now Verona),
Ohio, July 23, 1874. He followed a career with the People’s Banking Company of
Lewisburg, Ohio, from 1899 onward. He followed his own advice and specialized
in several areas including obsolete paper scrip, Civil War tokens, and other
fields with interesting stories attached to the various issues. In 1919 he was
elected president of the ANA. For many years he was a prolific contributor
to The Numismatist.

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