You probably have many methods of keeping a record or note regarding your collection. Perhaps you keep key information written on a coins holder. Maybe you include notes on the receipt. Whatever the method, I’m going to suggest that without a notebook – it’s not enough! You may be missing out on the biggest opportunity to improve your collecting experience. It all centers around being in the moment.
I will focus on coins for this discussion, but it could certainly be applied to any collectible.
Let’s begin the discussion with this question: How much information is enough?
The short answer – all information may be important. Although my answer may seem cavalier, or convenient as a catch all – A simple notebook provides the perfect place to record all your information.
My notebook contains the following critical factual record keeping, sort of like the “business end” of the record.
- Date of purchase
- Who I purchased it from, complete with contact information
- How it was originally described in advertisement, listing, website, etc.
- The original details that were recorded on any coin holder or envelope. This may include all the information above plus attributions, etc., but I record them separately so I can understand later where the information came from.
Getting past the obvious.
All this information, I am sure you already keep, so why the need for a notebook and record keeping? Because in addition to the “business end” information. I add the “personal” end of it as well.
Information that I needed later, sometimes 10 years later were:
- How did I acquire it – was it a gift? Christmas present?
- Why did I purchase it – Did I purchase it for a collection I was forming or hoping to form? Did it replace another piece I sold or traded? Was I planning on using it for Sunday school lesson? Was it low grade because it was going to be used for show and tell?
- What do I think of it – how do I grade it or attribute it? Keeping good notes is essential, especially if attributing is taking any length of time – Read about one of my attributing journeys!
In the world of ancient coins, I also record my research:
- All the information, letters, symbols that appear on a coin. Read one of my Roman Coin Resources
- I then translate it all, whether it’s Greek or Latin or even Paleo-Hebraic so I have a record of what it says, or rather what I believe it says (as sometimes, years later with the addition of a new reference book – I realize I might have been wrong).
- I identify the coin in any of the reference books I own. I record the book, edition, and page number from each work it appears.
Finally, and this may seem a bit much, I do a hand drawing of the coin. I draw the coin as it should have looked, copying it from a reference book, then I draw my actual coin. This tip can help you years later when looking at your coin and not understand what the full image or legend would have said – you can just flip to your notebook and check, rather than pull out all your reference books.
In summary there are times when I look at coin in my collection and ask – why did I buy this? Or learn that I made a mistake in how I attributed it, and don’t understand how I made such a mistake? But when I open my notebook, I instantly learn what I was thinking when I purchased it, and maybe my notes show I didn’t have a reference book at that time which led to the wrong identification.
Notebooks as a collecting record, are a valuable component of your collection. My notebooks represent years of study and research and I could never replace them.
After all – isn’t one the best part of collecting is the research and knowledge you gain, and then the opportunity to share it?
Please let me know if you another method, I would love to hear from you.
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