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Got a Goal in Mind?
July 05, 2011

I didn’t really want to return to work this morning. Three days of sun, parades, fireworks and family gatherings kept my mind off coins.

When I arrived at the office this morning, my computer was almost completely nonfunctioning. No email. No internal server. No Internet.

I was dead in the water without any idea of when I would be up and running again. This blog was written at the usual time and I expect it will be posted at some point. In the meantime I stored it on my desktop.

While I watched the 4th of July parade yesterday in Bonduel, Wis., I noticed that one of the drivers of one of the big farm tractors with an air conditioned closed cab was chatting merrily away on his cellphone as he passed the place I was sitting on the parade route. For some reason I noticed. We have had cellphones for many years now, but I don’t remember ever seeing a driver in a parade doing that. Usually they are waving, watching the crowd or making sure kids aren’t getting too close.

Farming has changed dramatically in my lifetime and perhaps this was a demonstration of it. So has coin collecting. The way I think was molded by the circulation finds era. I think in terms of full sets, key dates and completeness. Completeness almost trumped everything else in my early years. How many grungy coins did I put into an album simply because it filled a hole?

Why did I do it? Well, my goal was to finish the album. Many current collectors think as I was taught to think.

But equally true is the fact that there are many collectors who have arrived in the hobby without ever trying to assemble any kind of set from circulation. Without that defining experience, their questions sometimes hit me like the cellphone in a farm tractor. I ask myself, “where did that come from?”

Instead of grungy coins to fill a hole, some of these new collectors seem to buy coins that are labeled MS-70 for no other reason than they are MS-70. Do we attempt to form sets of nothing other than MS-70 coins going forward in time?

You get the idea. The future will offer us new ways of doing things. Unlike a tractor in a parade, we don’t know where we are heading.

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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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