Originally Posted by caesavg
I'd love to hear a justification for this that involves reference to values that are healthy and worth encouraging. Having a "better" collection than someone else is a fool's errand. I'd especially love to hear an argument that doesn't involve appeals to "investment value" because that is circular. No matter how hard I try to wrap my mind around it, I can't.
Dan - I think you basically answered your own question. Each person collects for different reasons. Having a better collection than someone else is a fool's errand? I think the collectors in the extremely well marketed "PCGS Registry" who compete for the best collection would wholeheartedly disagree.
Investment Value? That's not a circular argument. There are collectors whose primary collecting interest is to buy "undervalued" coins and resell them for profit, but enjoy owning them while they have them.
Why do I collect even though I am a dealer? That's simple. I love ancient coins and I want to leave research behind that may help my fellow collectors. That's also why I cowrite a monthly column in the Celator for no compensation at all.
I cannot afford to collect expensive coins, but my two main collecting areas right now are neither expensive, nor well documented - VLPP series of Constantinian Era and Eastern mint Hadrian denarii. I would love to have all pristine grade examples, especially for documentation purposes, but that's just not possible or practical. By the time I finally publish my findings on the VLPP series, hopefully it will show all of the varieties of the type and correct any potential chronology issues. Also, by the time I publish my Hadrian collection, I hope to use the work laid out by Metcalf in his book "The Cistophori of Hadrian" in determining all of the non-Rome mints which issued denarii based on the style of his cistophori issues.
So, why do people collect and why will someone pay whatever for a given coin? Because they either can or want to. You just have to accept it for what it is, even if it doesn't seem to make any sense to someone else. Just like why I can't figure out why someone would pay $1000+ for a Ty Beanie Baby. It doesn't make sense to me, but that doesn't make it wrong. Why will someone pay 5x the value of a coin in MS-68 vs. MS-67? Personally, I think it's because big dealers and auction houses target the type of obsessive/compulsive and competitive collector and tell them it's worth it. In those high grades, I think it's just all way too subjective and I agree it doesn't make much sense. But, it's not my money, so it doesn't have to make sense to me. Besides, I can't see such grading every taking off with ancients. Grading is WAY more subjective in what we collect.