My grandfather gave me my first Whitman coin album when I was five years old. It was for Lincoln Wheat pennies and contained about a dozen coins. I was immediately entranced with the information on a single coin to which I had never previously paid attention: year of strike, mint mark, tone, and grade. The empty spaces in the album were an open invitation and challenge to what became a lifelong adventure of discovery, imagination, and appreciation.
I began collecting sports cards at nine years of age. It was 1968, the Year of the Pitcher, my family was living in Missouri and the St. Louis Cardinals were the defending world champions. What a time to discover baseball cards as an information resource to peruse while listening to games on KMOX radio.
Fifty years later, I realize that collecting and trading coins and sports cards has been as much about making friends, learning history, and developing organizational skills as it has been about completing a collection. I can still remember the names of my fellow students in the seventh grade who used to gather on the front steps of the school building every morning before the first bell to compare and trade coins and cards. Now, thanks to the Internet, I have friends from all over.