Was your first cartridge relatively expensive?

I'm thinking seriously about buying my first analog rig. I've never set up a turntable system before and obviously my biggest fear is breaking/damaging the cartridge.

So I've got some questions for you guys. Was your first cartridge relatively expensive? In hindsight would you have bought a cheaper one to "learn" with? Would you recommend a newbie who is sure he likes the sound of vinyl and will stick to it, to start with the best cartridge he can afford?
12-29-05: Dazzdax
The Denon DL-103 is a very fairly priced cartridge. It is also capable of giving very satisfactory sonic results. But it is not a beginners cartridge, because it can sound good only with heavy and very heavy arms.
This is not true.
The Denon 103 works very well in most quality medium mass arms. It sounds very good in my Graham (effective mass 11g) and works in just as well in SME, Rega and VPI medium mass arms - to name a few. Denon quotes a very low compliance, but this is dynamic compliance at 100hz. Static compliance at 10hz is significantly higher. In my Graham arm the 103R has lateral/vertical resonant frequencies of 10/12Hz respectively. This is pretty much ideal.
"I was told by my dealer and others that the list of importance goes. 1.cartridge 2.phono stage 3.arm 4.table"

I would list priorities very differently than your dealer:
1) Table 2) arm 3) cartridge 4) phono stage.

Your table and arm determine how well your cartridge can do its job - how much music it can get from the grove. And the phono stage can never give you more music by itself, only relay (and not mess up) what it gets from the table/arm/cartridge.
Howie, I strongly agree with Raul about getting a dealer to mount the cartridge and set up your table. Kids (and newbies), don't try this it home. Sure you can get your table to make sound, but you want it to sound its best. It really takes considerable experience to do this properly. Many here have that experience, probably many more of us think we do but in reality don’t .
Thanks for the comments guys, I hope this thread will help other newbies as well.

I do not plan to buy locally as I do not like the dealer that sell the vinyl products I'm interested in. He'll rip me off enough to buy quite a few cartridges to play around with.

I do plan to spending time learning about things. I'm an avid reader of message boards. :D
It's a bit disheartening to know that a cartridge needs to be replaced about 1500 hours or so. Especially considering the fact that it takes about couple hundred hours of breakin.

So most of you didn't break your first cartridge or damage it because of your newbiness?
My experience with cartridges is very different. I find that I typically use a cartridge for 4 or more years before replacing, and that's listening almost every day. So, that's 3,500 - 4,500 hours for me. I've been doing this for 30 years, and my experience has been pretty consistent over that time. My current cartridge probably has 2,000 hours on it and I can't tell any degradation so far.