on coin-collecting

2005 Netherlands 10 Euro Beatrix ...just one of Tiffany's many fine coins
2005 Netherlands 10 Euro Beatrix ...just one of Tiffany's many fine coins

(This interview was e-mailed in March with Tiffany Follett.  I found her on flickr & was entranced by her coin collection.  I had to find-out more & here’s the result)

 Aurelio: …just looked at your coin collection on flickr again (out of 7 or 8 times & counting), before I writing back to you & noticed some more coins I hadn’t looked at before.  Wow, this collection must be something to see in person, but the flickr way is great too, and perhaps not as much work to sort through manually.

 Your collection is very impressive & also the archiving of the coins is not to be overlooked, as I said before, great work!  How did you get involved with numismatics?  Are there certain coins that started your fascination?–or was it something else that got you going?

 I am also trying to see a theme to your collection, geographical, historical, aesthetic &c., but I cannot detect one, other than that you seriously love coins.  Is there a theme?  What drives you to accumulate these treasures?  How do you buy them? eBay & other on-line auctions?  Have you heard of V-Coins? (…the other night I couldn’t pull myself away from looking at all the nice coins available from the different sellers)

 I had been scanning my little collection, rather than photographing them.  It seems the detail is softer when the coins are photographed.  Do you have a special set-up for the coins?  Or do you just point-n-shoot?

Tiffany: My involvement started when I was a kid.  My father loved coins and gave me my own penny folder for a collection.  He didn’t have any vast great collection, but he liked to collect unusual circulating change.  I have sort of gone in cycles of collecting for 15 years.  I’m only marginally active at this time only getting my yearly US coinage. I do not have any theme whatsoever.  I collect coins that I just basically like the design of mostly, but that’s not always the case.  I do have to say that my favorite area of collecting is commemoratives.

 I have many different sources for purchasing, eBay is one of them, but I am a member of the coinpeople forum and purchased vast amounts from its members, also certain websites such as chervonets.com.  I had not heard of  V-coins before, but as I said I am not in an extremely active cycle right now.

 Scanning is good, it’s hard to get the coloring right, such is the case with photographing as well.  I have yet to find the perfect setup to capture the coins perfectly, but it gives me something to strive for.  I never had a real setup per se, but I had a book and a gooseneck lamp with a compact fluorescent bulb I use as well as a macro lens.  I just recently purchased a light box but have yet to set it up and try it out.  That’s my next stage. 

 Where are you from?  Tell me about your collection.

 Aurelio: …so your dad started you off with your 1st penny folder [these folders are used to organize & categorize coins, usually within a period of time &/or theme].  I wonder if you still have those pennies, or any part of your dad’s collection.  It sounds like you have been involved with numismatics for sometime & your theme for collecting coins is basically numismatics itself, you just love coins, you love collecting & that’s great.  I have not yet looked at your commemoratives yet.  I’ll have to do that soon.

 I think my 1st fascination with coins started when was a kid too.  It has become more pronounced now that the internet makes it so easy to buy them (sometimes).  My grand-parents had a small general store in Southern Colorado & I’d have to help count change, from time to time.  Grandma would have these little brown bags packed with change (along with a coffee can or two…don’t ask me why she kept change in paper bags) & I would sort it count it out & put the coins into their rollers.  Then we could go to the bank to make a deposit or whatever.  Once she pulled out a few bags that apparently had been in a storeroom for sometime & while sorting through it I found a couple of Indian head pennies, a buffalo nickel & a mercury dime.  I was so intrigued by these little finds.  I’d stare at them for hours, imagining the stories they could tell.  I wish I still had those coins, they probably wouldn’t be worth much, but their personal value would be huge.  Now that I think about it, the sense of intrigue has not diminished.  I still stare at coins a lot, whether they are mine, yours, or someone else’s.

Unlike you, I have not archived my whole collection & if I did it still wouldn’t match the size & depth of yours.  The bulk of it consists of circulating world coins, from all corners of the world, a lot of notgeld from Germany & Austria (some of these notes can be really fun to look at) & growing collection of European coins from the 16, 17 & 18th centuries.  I love handling these old coins.  I know this might be a no-no for the purist, but I can’t resist touching them & imagining the hands that have touched them.  I will sometimes carry the coin in my pocket for a day, just to get to “know” the coin better.  Of course it should go without saying that the nicer the coin, the less it’s been handled, therefore most of the good-looking coins haven’t been handled too much & probably have spent most of their “lives” in drawers, boxes, &c.  Do you handle your coins; touch them to feel the texture & that sort of thing?  Do you have any coins that you linger over?

Another of the aspect of the coins I love is that they are miniature artworks.  With the bas-relief format it is amazing how much can be depicted, kings, queens, presidents, animals, monuments, buildings, battles, births, &c., &c. 

I live in Denver what about you?  I have the Denver Mint here that I have not been to for a long time I need to go soon.   

 Tiffany: I do still have that penny folder.  A few years ago my mother took me to her safety deposit box and gave me my father’s collection.  That was actually what got me started collecting foreign coinage.  He had coins from all over the place and I was captivated by the designs.  This is why I like commemoratives so much because of the different designs.

 I don’t handle my coins extensively I generally only handle by edges only.  I too, though, like to imagine who’s hands the coins have passed through, especially ones that date back to the earlier centuries.

 Aurelio:  I’ve realized that it’ll be fun to list my top 11 picks from your collection & hyperlink ‘em too.  (If you have any thing to say about these feel free).

 1848 German States Rostock 1 Pfennig Obv

1706 German States Padderborn 6 Pfennig Obv

1749 German States Bremen 1 Groten Rev

1712 Sachsen Gotha Altenburg Heller Obv

1504 Hungary Sil Denars Rev

1892 Spain 50 Cents Obv

1555 Lithuania Obv

1623 Poland Quarter Thaler Obv

2005 Netherlands 10 Euro Beatrix Obv

1583 Poland 3 Groschen Obv NGC

1990J Germany 10 Marks Teutonic Order Proof Rev

 I wish we had time to touch on all your other passions, but if someone reading this wants to check-out your beautiful photos & tons other fine stuff, they can find you at: Tiffibunny’s photostream.  I guess your from the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area, I asked & it should’ve been clear once I took a tour through your other pics (yes, I was only looking at the coins, before).  Thank you for the help & we’ll talk again…

 Tiffany: You picked some of my favorites.  German States are probably my favorite, probably because I’m from a mostly German heritage.  And yes I am in St. Paul.  Sorry, I thought I mentioned that before….

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