My father got me into coin collecting when I was a small child. Before long car trips, he’d stop by the bank and get some rolls of pennies and nickels for us to go through. Sometimes even dimes. We never found anything really amazing, but we got our share of wheaties and silver dimes. Once we found a (normal) dime in a nickel roll, which was not of numismatic interest, but it was greatly exciting for me. I remember one Buffalo nickel and one Mercury dime. I also found a 1964 quarter in a vending machine once. That was my first silver coin – I realized it was different because it had a different color and made a different sound when I dropped it on the table.
As I got older and had money of my own, my dad took me to shows and coin stores, and I did my time picking through the bins. I followed my dad’s footsteps in the beginning and worked on typical US sets, like small cent, Buffalo, and Mercury dime sets, but once I could afford to buy more silver coins, I started to get interested in foreign silver. My first two endeavors were Australia and Netherlands, which eventually led to a general interest in Commonwealth silver and 17th-19th century European coinage.
In high school I studied Latin, and in college I took a class on Roman letters (Pliny, Seneca, etc.) and another on Augustus. I managed to get a job in the university’s numismatic collection, cataloging their early Roman Imperial coins. As a result of this, I put some effort into collecting Roman coins as well.
In college, I also got interested in China. This started because I made some Chinese friends in college, and they introduced me to Chinese culture in a way I hadn’t experienced before – we played Chinese games, ate and cooked (relatively authentic) Chinese food, and they taught me some Chinese words. I eventually learned some Chinese history also, took some language classes, and started collecting the coins. I also spent some time in college studying Roman history, and I tried my hand at collecting early Roman coinage as well.
I eventually found my schedule and my budget could not handle this broad diversity of collecting interest, so I decided to drop Roman coins and US coins, and for modern world coins to focus only on British Commonwealth silver, so I could focus more on Chinese coins.
As for Chinese coins, I got some lots of unsorted cash in the beginning in order to practice identifying coins. I found the subtleties of Northern Song and Qing identification by calligraphy varieties somewhat tedious, so I started working on collecting a broad array of Chinese coins, spanning from Warring States spade coins to the varied provincial issues during the Republic of China period.