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July 18, 2006: One Vote for the ‘Box-of-20’ Concept


We have been around coins for a long, long time, and we’ve seen people collect coins of all different kinds in all different ways, from type sets to die varieties to date and mint runs in all series to the odd. And weird. And frightening.

We know people who (fanatically) collect NJ copper coins by die variety, some who collect only wildly toned commemoratives, many doing early gold coins by type, a few building sets of off-metal patterns, we’ve read about one person doing clipped Lincoln cents by date, another who buys only mint red large cents, a specialist in circulating counterfeit Barber coinage by date, and even one guy who collects those bakelite US mint patterns of 1942 by color. Seriously. I didn’t even know they came in different colors until I met that guy.

And you know what? These widely varied collections are probably all interesting, all equally enjoyable, and likely quite challenging for their owners. But for us, its hard to narrow down our interest to just one specific area like that. We’ve also never been fond of the rigidity of set collecting, or the fact that complete sets of coins – even spectacular sets – nearly always include some mundane, relatively common pieces.

We’ve always been partial to the ‘Box-of-20′ concept whereby you collect one box (i.e. a PCGS or NGC box which holds 20 coins) which could be most anything but must be one thing: Really cool and interesting coins of any series, type, date, metallic composition, country or condition.

The idea being that, regardless of your budget, its preferrable to have fewer, better coins, and to focus your limited attention and resources onto a smaller range of carefully chosen, especially appealing pieces.

We find ourselves buying by the same criteria. If we see something really interesting, especially appealing and cool, we buy it – which explains why we have a rather eclectic mix on our website at a given time. If we see a beautiful, wildly toned, counterstamped British Dollar over a Spanish 8 Reales, we can’t resist. Ditto a mostly red unc. Hard Times Token with a cool design and a transcendent motto. Or a brilliant, lustrous original $20 Lib with exceptional color.

Anything goes and its all good.

In theory, the Box-of-20 concept suggests that you maintain just the 20 coins. What happens if you buy a new coin? Well, then you’ll need to sell an existing piece – presumably the one you like least, or have grown tired of, or perhaps one that has increased in value sufficiently to entice you to take profits.

Of course this is our Coin Commentary, and so we can make our own rules. Maybe your Box-of-20 should be 3/4 of a box. Or a dozen boxes. That parts up to you. As is what goes inside them.

Our suggestion is to try it. We think you’ll like it. Its easy, and fun and you’ll never, ever get bored. And if you want, your Box-of-20 can even include a bakelite pattern in the color of your choice.