I would argue that as much harm was done by the unreasonable expectation that a new collector (someone new to coins, not just VAMs) could get rich from VAMs.Eschaton wrote: ↑Mon Oct 02, 2023 2:59 pmMany great points on this thread, love what Roger is saying. But I'm gonna go ahead and address the elephant in the room.
The deeply embedded denigration of profit motivation is all but destroyed VAMs. Is sad but true. I can remember years ago when I was very young and came on VAMworld (2005? 2006?) it was a constant battle. Since I sold VAMs and was young, I was the bad guy to some. I literally got kicked off VW1 while all the older purists that were flaming me did not, and some are still here posting even today. When talking to some of the biggest names in the hobby that were still posting at that time and watched everything happen, they weren't even sure why I got kicked off.
Given your career experiences, I'm sure you'll agree that there are no shortages of old boys clubs in coins.I'm back now, but I don't do much with VAMs. It kind of ruined it for me. I moved on, became the numismatist for one of the largest coin shop chains in the country running the dollar desk, and then went on to Heritage, and now I'm a dealer. VAMs are a distant memory. I have a pile of discoveries that I never even sent in. At times is it seemed like an old boys club.
Perhaps people relying exclusively on cherrypicking to satisfy their experience, but if you look at the fact that Heritage now has VAM sales, which was unheard of 10 years ago, there is a significant number of collectors that are ready to pay up for better varieties. Yeah, as the hobby matured, prices fell on coins found to be more common than previously known, while they've gone up on others found to be more rare.But the unspoken reality is a lot of people don't want more people getting into VAMs. They don't want more competition while trying to cherry pick.
I've seen it. Consider the cost of buying 5000 pennies and looking for varieties. $50 for the coins, a cheap digital microscope, and you're off posting pictures of their "errors and varieties" that have been corroded, run over, shot, spooned, cut, glued, screwed, tattooed, you name it. After a week of looking, they take their 5000 pennies back to the bank (4999 if they're lucky). Not a single one of these people have bothered to learn anything about the minting process that might help inform their searches. You tell them to take a step back from the microscope and learn something and they think you're from Mars. The people making the most money here are the microscope sellers. This is nothing new, of course. Those that became rich during the various gold rushes were mostly the ones selling supplies to the prospectors.So now, if you go on social media, Penny roll hunting and variety collecting in general variety is HUGE and has about 1000 times as much interest as VAM collecting. And it's pretty much all young people. Because there's a profit motivation that isn't shamed. And honestly, it's worse than that, I've never seen anyone ever talking about VAMs.
They're not going to be able to do the same with VAMs, because they can't just go get 5000 Morgan dollars to look through, take back the ones that they don't want, and leave with a fresh bag of 5000 without outlaying a lot of money they don't have.
It's also not true that people aren't talking about VAMs on social media. There are plenty of VAM dabblers and VAM curious people out there. I've approved plenty of new account requests here, one of which is currently being competently helped by a couple other newer members.
As you said, the next generation is looking through circulation rolls -- something you can't do so easily with silver dollars, so why should they care about VAMs? Or bust half varieties? Or large cent varieties? Or anything made before 1965, for that matter? Some of the roll searchers will mature into something more, while most will be selling their microscopes on eBay in a few years. As for complexity and being overly technical, the VAM catalog by itself is big and technical. It's 10 times the size of the bust half Overton catalog. How to manage that from the perspective of a collector new to VAMs has long been an issue. The concept of the Top 100 book didn't exist for any specialty when it came out in 1996 and lowered the barrier to entry dramatically. Other lists being created were a testament to its success. Other series have adopted that as well. Given the chance, I'll always tell beginners to start with something more focused and see where it takes them. It's hard to control which end of the pool someone jumps into, though.We were consistently attacked and pushed away the younger generation whose profit motivations were constantly questioned, and as a result the VAM market is tanking. Because the younger collectors just don't care about them. Because number one, we've chased the next generation away, and number two, we've made the hobby overly technical to the point where the most obvious features often aren't even mentioned in the description.
You've just described every online forum. Well, not the NVIDIA developers forum. There are no regulars you can count on there, nobody shoots the breeze, and the support people aren't very responsive.And I'll bet a dollar that nothing will change. Because many don't want it to. I think I correctly assessed it about 15 years ago when I said that VW had become like cheers. It's a digital bar where a bunch of regulars hang out and shoot the breeze. Us four, no more. And therefore, that's what we're gonna get.
Most active online venues have drama, so that really doesn't worry me much. There are no rules against it, and I'm not about to start banning people for being drama queens. The best cure for that is getting to a show and going out to dinner with a bunch of fellow collectors. Just don't go to Scarpino's in Pittsburgh.We've made our bed, now we must lie in it. And tbh there's actually quite a bit of drama on here. And as a result a lot of the luminaries that once posted here now do not. And I don't blame them. After the reception my last post received, I've all but stopped posting again. Play stupid games win stupid prizes. Be careful what you build. Be careful what you wish for.