Do you remember the very first coin you ever got for your collection? For some unexplainable reason most collectors do. At a recent coin club meeting, I asked a dozen seasoned collectors if they could still identify the coin or group of coins that started them collecting. Every one of them knew exactly which coin was the first, and most of them still had that particular piece in their collection even though it may have been upgraded by a better specimen years ago.
My first coin was a funny looking copper piece from China. A neighbor gave it to me many years ago when I was probably no more than four years old. It was fascinating because it did not look like any other coin I had ever seen. This one was about the size of a quarter but it was thin and had a square hole in the middle. I later learned that it was called a “cash”, and the hole was there so that large batches of them could be strung together for easy carrying.
The collectors who took part in this survey were all very specific in describing what got them started in their hobby. They seemed to remember everything about that first coin and what it meant to them. It didn’t seem to matter if it was a rare and valuable piece, or just something of no particular worth. It was the fact that there was something different and intriguing about that coin that caught their fancy. Nearly everyone remembered exactly where, when and how their treasured introduction was acquired, and they talked to me enthusiastically about the event.
Reminiscing about my Chinese cash coin always brings back fond memories of the long departed neighbor who gave it to me, and what it meant to me then, and even now. It makes me realize that it was that chance acquisition that started me on a life-long interest in money from all over the world. I am just like all the others in that survey, in that my first coin is something that will always have a special place in my collection, even though it is still worth less than 25¢!
For many these new coins will be a novelty, but others see them as an opportunity to invest in a metal that has numerous unique uses in industry, and one which is in short supply throughout the world. The limited number of working mines that produce this precious metal can rarely keep up with demand, and there is no other metal that has the same properties as platinum.