Terms Get in Way of Understanding
September 29, 2011
Remember the old joke asking who is buried in Grant’s tomb?
Yes, I know that the correct word should be interred, because the former President’s body is not resting in the earth, but popular jokes are not dependent upon such formalities.
Anyway, this old joke came to mind as I received a question that would make any hobbyist shake his head.
“I recently purchased your 2012 U.S. Coin Digest and I am confused on determining value. Example, on Page 188 “Jackie Robinson proof gold $5 commemorative, listed as follows:
“1997W MS-65 3,900
“1997W Prf-65 575
“How do I determine which one I have? It was purchased from the U. S. Mint and in its original case with all the paperwork.”
I am grateful that the individual has purchased a reference book. That is a good thing.
Can I infer from this that he knows he has a proof because he has the original paperwork and is somehow confused and not recognizing that MS-65 is a grade designation for the uncirculated coin and Prf-65 is the grade for a proof coin?
This assumption will be the basis for how I respond.
Over the years I have heard many a hobbyist refer to the grade of a proof coin as MS this or that in casual conversation. I have always put it down to a slip of the tongue or a temporary mental glitch.
I sympathize because I do not always use the right word in casual conversation, either, and I have never been one of those purists who corrects people who use the word “penny” instead of “cent.”
Yes, cent is correct. Yes, we should all use it, but I agree with the appeal Mint Director Donna Pope made a generation ago that we should all just all relax a little over the use of “penny.”
Nobody should ever be afraid to ask a question, or to share a hobby enthusiasm with others for fear of an unfriendly correction.
Something to add? Notice an error? Comment on this blog.
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