I was fortunate to have help in entering the coin collecting hobby...
I did collect coins as a child, but it was more of a curiosity than a hobby. While serving in the US Air Force, I was given an opportunity to learn from a few coin dealers in Montana. Montana is a silver state and silver dollars were very plentiful.
A Montana coin dealer told me to read up on the subject before buying any coins. After reading the Comprehensive Catalogue and Encyclopedia of U. S. Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars (1977)(several times I have to say), I went back to this dealer and he showed me his silver dollar inventory. He offered to sell me silver dollars at his cost (remember the Gray Sheets?). I cherry picked his inventory and ended up with ten silver dollars. I was keying on luster and strike. Each coin I picked had original mint luster and was well struck. The dealer make a comment that I had a "good eye" in picking out the nice ones for "a beginner".
I studied my new silver dollars. Compared them with the "VAM listings". I somehow picked up two 1900 O/CC errors from this dealer. Excited in making a quick profit to purchase more silver dollars, I sold one of my O/CC to another dealer in the same city. I went back to the first dealer and purchased additional silver dollars.
By this time I was hooked. Curious in my aptitude and skill in grading silver dollars, I visited additional dealers. They critiqued the grade I assigned. Each dealer was subjective. I started to build-up my confidence in grading silver dollars.
Eventually, my silver dollar interest started to focus on proof-like dollars. This is were it gets interesting. I made a trip to Deer Lodge, Montana to see Dean Tavenner's coin shop (this dates me). You have to remember that back then there was no encapsulation of coins. He was eager to share his knowledge with me. I handled and viewed my first proof Morgan silver dollar. He gave me a lesson on proof-like silver dollars. A lesson on toning, grading, etc... I finally purchased several proof-like silver dollars from him after spending several hours in his shop.
Eventually, my time in Montana came to an end. I had a new duty station to move to. I really was fortunate in having several coin dealers who took the time to share the coin collecting hobby with me.
The picture below is old, but ANACS became the first to grade coins and provide a photo certificate. I had a few silver dollars graded and the results reinforced my silver dollar grading skill set. The certificate's date indicates the time period in which I was stationed in Montana.
In closing, I recommend reading as much as you can on the subject or coin type and gain experience in grading raw coins. It will provide additional fun and be highly profitable. Happy cherry picking! Also, remember that a true hobbyist will share their knowledge with you.
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