Matt Curtis grew up immersed in the world of numismatics. His father, a director of a London-based numismatic dealer and auction house, and the General Secretary for the International Association of Professional Numismatists (IAPN). Amongst Matt’s earliest memories are his visits to the IAPN Annual Congress as a six year-old and then again aged 10. Later, as a teenager, Matt earned summer holiday pocket money working alongside his father.
Matt’s combined experiences in the numismatic industry have contributed to his considerable skills and expertise in the world of historic coins – knowledge that he brought with him to The Royal Mint when he joined us in 2017.
In his new blog series, Matt will be taking us through the journey of collecting; from buying old coins and beginning his collection, to adding to his collection through scouting out specific coins. In this first installment, Matt tells us about the moment he realised he was a coin collector.
Do you know you’re a coin collector? It’s surprising how many people don’t! It took me years to realise I was. I’ve worked in the coin world since 2005 and have been surrounded by old coins all my life but it is only very recently that even I admitted to being a coin collector.
How interesting is it that you can become a coin collector without even knowing it? I think most people who collect coins started off with a gift from a relative or somehow inherited their first coin. Of course, this is quite obvious when you think about it. How many of us have been given coins when we were too young to go shopping and buy our own. Now, this doesn’t make us all coin collectors but for those of us who buy our own coins later in life, this is how we will remember starting out.
The first coin I remember being given was actually two coins fashioned into a penknife. I was a cub scout and excited at the thought of having a penknife of my own. When my dad gave me this very special and probably unique “coinknife” it was very interesting indeed. It was of course too special to use and I still have it to this day. Did owning that make me a coin collector? No, not yet.
I didn’t get my second coin until I was 18, I had asked my dad for a sovereign from the year I was born. When I got a sovereign dated 10 years before I was born of course I wondered why. I discovered that sovereigns were not minted every year, I was learning about coins but not a collector yet.
Several years later when I was working in the coin world and exposed to many interesting coins five days a week was when I started to accumulate coins. Often coins would catch my eye but they were always very expensive. Although I could not afford them I took comfort in the fact that I must have good taste because popular coins always command a higher price. I did not let this put me off, every now and then a nice coin would come up that I could afford so I would snap it up. Now I was accumulating coins but they did not follow a theme in any way so I still didn’t consider it a collection.
My moment of realisation came not from the purchasing of coins but when I started to purchase coin accessories. I needed somewhere safe to keep my coins, I wanted a decent Loupe (magnifying glass) to examine my coins with and I wanted books to look them up in. At this point, I finally conceded I am a coin collector! I still maintain I do not have a collection because what I have is so varied but I will admit I am a collector. One step at a time…
Every collection has a story; whether you collect historic coins, coins from a particular reign, year, or even from your change! We would like to know about the moment you realised you were a coin collector, perhaps it was a particular coin that did it? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
In his next piece, Matt will be telling us about what to do with your accumulation of coins, to make it in to a “proper” collection – stay tuned!