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What Should be in Gold Column?
August 13, 2008

I had a nice e-mail yesterday from somebody who considered Pat Heller's weekly gold comments out of line. He said it was both a political column and it offered investment advice, neither of which, it was stated, belonged on a numismatic Web site.

Because the e-mail was an expression of concern, I thought I would throw the topic out for readers to consider.

Is it appropriate to publish information about the ongoing credit and banking crisis and its potential impact on the U.S. economy generally and the price of gold specifically?

I am by nature an optimist, so I take gloom and doom pronouncements with a grain of salt. However, I don't think anybody can reasonably dispute that the current credit crisis is the worst financial mess the country has been in at least since the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The area of uncertainty is how this will impact the price of gold. Bad news doesn't always make the price of gold go up any more than good news always makes it go down.

As an editor of Numismatic News, I have always advocated buying gold in the form of collecting gold coins. That way, you can have fun, build up a nice collection, and incidentally have a quantity of the precious metal that serves as a hedge against unforeseen calamities.

I know there are people who would rather cut right to the chase and buy pure bullion plays. They buy bullion coins from coin dealers. Is this activity a numismatic one or an investment one?

It seems to me it is a bit of both. It is not possible to draw a fine line between the two. When Russ Rulau was editor of World Coin News in the 1970s, the joke was it was really World Gold News. But the topic was important to readers and the publication thrived.

So this question of suitability recurs over the years. What's your opinion?

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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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