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What Do You Think You are Doing?
May 03, 2011

The beauty of coin collecting is that you can do anything you want. You can tailor the hobby to your own interests and needs.

The downside to coin collecting is that you can do anything you want. If you choose to do things your way, you should make sure what your way is.

I had a telephone call yesterday from an individual who had questions about Morgan dollars. He had mentioned that he had just bought some. He told me the dealer who sold the coins to him. Then he started talking about getting the coins in slabs as MS-69. At that point I realized he was probably talking about silver American Eagles and that proved to be the case.

This was not just a slip of the tongue, either. We were on the phone for a good three minutes before we got to the correct identification.

The Numismatic News poll question this week asks whether respondents will buy the 2011 5-ounce America the Beautiful silver bullion coins. A full third who are emailing comments are commenting on buying the 2010 Hot Springs collector coin not the 2011 Gettysburg and Glacier coins that are being sold through the Mint's Authorized Purchaser network.

There is nothing wrong with having a view on that program, too, but it is quite clear that these respondents think that this was the poll question that was asked. It wasn’t.

Collectors seem to be hyper-excited about the current high price of silver. That’s understandable. It has been 31 years since we have been at this level and many hobbyists did not experience the prior boom or have only the dimmest of memories of it.

However, it is in times of excitement that mistakes are made. Corners are cut. No deep thought is given.

Mistaken responses to a poll question mean nothing in the long run. Talking about Morgan dollars when you mean American Eagles is also fairly harmless, but it does make me wonder why the caller bought them in the first place. That was never explained.

If he was putting together a set of American Eagles from 1986 on in MS-69, that would be a collector thing to do.

If he was buying multiples of MS-69 2011 American Eagles simply because he thinks the grade designation will enhance his chance of profit, he had better think again. Just look at the thousands of modern coins that are listed in the grading service population reports as MS-69. They should serve as a warning.

Collecting is a great way to slow down and be methodical. Don’t throw that great advantage away when making important decisions even if silver has pushed your blood pressure up.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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