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Coffee, Tea or Gold?
November 16, 2011

I enjoy my coffee in the morning. When a gourmet coffee ad came on the radio today, my ears immediately tuned in.

It was a good ad. It reminded me that good sales people always say you sell the sizzle and not the steak.

However, I am not a coffee snob and I do not feel somehow superior spending large amounts of money on my morning joe. I will not be buying the coffee advertised. The mainstream brands that come in a can suit me just fine especially if they are on sale when I need more.

Gold ads are on the radio as well. They come in two forms. One appeals to buyers and their sense that the future is uncertain. The other appeals to potential sellers who might drive to a local hotel to get some ready cash.

Neither kind of radio ad is likely to lead to a happy outcome if you define happy outcome as a buyer getting gold for the lowest possible price, or the seller of gold getting the highest possible price.

Sales pitches play on emotions and impressions. These cloud judgment rather than enhance it. Also, radio ads are not cheap. The businesses have to build their cost into their budgets.

Obviously, there are enough gold buyers and sellers who respond to these ads to keep them on the airwaves.

I cannot change the way the world works. All I can do is point out that the object of owning gold is not to feel socially superior or as some in-the-know insider, it is simply to buy a given quantity of the precious metal in a commonly traded and easily recognizable form at the lowest possible price.

People who respond to hotel ads are more difficult to reach, probably impossible for an editor of a coin newspaper. I do not know how much gold is in the class ring they might want to sell, but I do know that area coin dealers with established locations are more likely to pay more. But these sellers are impulsive and in a hurry. Until they hear a radio ad, they probably don’t even think about selling what they own. Also, they likely will never know that they could have gotten so much more for their gold simply because they think they don’t have time to look around a little bit.

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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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