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Familiarity Breeds Contempt of Mint?
November 04, 2011

When I was a kid coin collector, I thought about the U.S. Mint just twice a year.

One of those times was when it was time to order proof sets. The other of those times was when sales began for what we called the mint set, now with the longer formal name of U.S. Mint Uncirculated Coin Set.

Most collectors were like me.

My point?

Even though delivery times ran to many months, my opinion of the Mint was still quite high. For me, it was a bit like visiting Aladdin’s cave in my mind’s eye.

Rare and beautiful treasures could be acquired.

The rest of the year I was happily focused on filling my Whitman albums, stopping by a local coin shop, and, of course, reading my Numismatic News to find out what other collectors were thinking and doing.

Nowadays, Mint delivery is far better, but instead of being happy with the Mint, on average we collectors bounce back and forth between critical and angry.

We are critical to the point of nitpicking in the best of times – griping when delivery takes a few days longer than expected and even criticizing shipment methods.

Collectors as a group get angry when surprise sellouts occur. Why didn’t we get one is the ongoing cry.

So why are collectors in such a foul mood?

I don’t think it is for any one event no matter the magnitude of the problem of that single event.

I think the real reason collectors are in a foul mood is because the Mint is always in our face and in our minds.

The Mint has so many products nowadays that we collectors are always forced to think about it. The Mint is like a guest in our homes who never leaves. Everything it does gets on our nerves.

I know I can never return to those happy times of thinking about the Mint twice a year, but if the Mint doesn’t pedal back some, collector opinion won’t even return to nitpicking. It will stay at angry 24/7.

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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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