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Collector’s Items

Yisrael Rutman

People have been collecting things since there have been people and things to collect. They do it for fun, for profit, and in some cases, they don’t know why they do it!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

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People have been saving things since there have been people and things to save. They do it for fun, for profit, and in some cases, they don’t know why they do it.

If you save or collect things, it’ll be easier for you to relate to some of the things we’ll be talking about; although some are weird and challenging. And even if you never saved anything (except maybe some potato chips for the way home), you’ll soon find out that there’s at least one thing that everybody saves.…

Great Mistakes

The most popular type of collections are stamp and coin collections. There are literally tens of millions of people around the world who collect these items. Why are people so into it?

Some collect them just for the fun of it; others make money buying and selling rare stamps and coins. (They think making money is fun, too.) How can you make money on stamps? After all, once a stamp has been used, it can’t be reused. So it’s worthless, right? Not always.

Some rare stamps are worth a lot of money. Just the fact that only a few of a particular stamp exist makes it unique, a collector’s item people will pay a lot for. Also, if there was something unusual about it, like a mistake in the printing, that can increase its value many times over.

For example, the Inverted Jenny. This 1918 24-cent US stamp bore the picture of a plane called a Curtiss JN-4, or “Jenny” — but the plane was printed upside down. Only 100 upside-down stamps got past inspectors and to the public, but those 100 became instant collectors’ items. Today, they’re each worth about $100,000 depending on their condition, and in 2016, an Inverted Jenny was sold at auction for $1,351,250.


Not all errors are worth saving, though. When the US Post Office issued a Statue of Liberty stamp on December 1, 2010, it was months before someone noticed that the statue shown wasn’t the real one in New York, but a Statue of Liberty copy in Las Vegas. Ten and a half billion stamps were recalled, the biggest botch in postal history.

It’s pretty much the same for coins. The rarer they are, or the more interesting their story, is what makes them valuable.

The first dollar coin ever issued by the US government was in 1794. It became known as the Flowing Hair dollar because it had an image of a woman’s head with flowing hair, symbolizing liberty. In 2013, a coin from the original 1794 batch sold for $10,016,875, the highest price ever paid for a coin.

Not all Lincoln pennies were created equal. In 1909, to honor Abraham Lincoln’s 100th birthday, half a million special Lincoln pennies were designed by someone named Victor David Brenner — who was so proud of his work, he added his initials on the back. But he didn’t have permission to do that, and the government ordered the initials left off on future pennies. If you ever spot a penny with VDB on it, grab it — it’s a collector’s item! (Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 664)

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