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Silver Surprises
December 12, 2011

Following silver and gold day to day as I and so many others have been doing in recent years can sometimes blind me to what I will dub the “silver surprise.”

What might that be, you ask?

Let me tell you in a roundabout way.

I ran into a fellow yesterday who asked me whether Krause Publications still published a book about coins that he was interested in.

I asked him what it was and he said it was a coin book that had U.S. coins in it. I quickly suggested it was either North American Coins and Prices or Coin Digest. I began to describe them. The former has coins of Mexico, Canada and the U.S. in it and the latter just U.S. coins.

Coin Digest was the winner.

He had a copy. It was the 2006 edition.

He said it was time he gave his coins a look again. I said that was a great idea since the 2012 edition makes his book six editions old.

Since I see him routinely around Iola. I knew he was 70 years old. His wife and he had moved to Iola some years ago after he had retired.

I expect he will have a very pleasant surprise. I do not know what he owns. He did not tell me, but other people of his age usually have holdings that include silver dollars and circulated pre-1965 silver coins. There might be some cents and nickels thrown in but little likelihood of gold.

How do I know this since I didn’t ask?

I presumed that someone who hasn’t checked his coins in six years was not an active collector.

Also, he said nothing about proof sets or mint sets, which most people volunteer to me if they own any. People who don’t buy the common Mint-issue pieces also usually have no gold unless their grandfather happened to leave them some, which of course makes a story that most people would likely tell in conversation.

Silver, of course has multiplied nicely in value since 2006. And value adds up quickly at nearly 23 times face value.

When he takes a look at the prices he will experience that wonderful “silver surprise” that people experience who haven’t been following prices daily.

After he gets his book, I expect our next conversation will be how he might go about selling these unexpectedly valuable coins.

We’ll see.

If you find that your copy of a favorite coin guide is out of date, check out for the latest editions and the current deals.

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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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