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Sometimes Records Can Be Easy
April 09, 2012

Keeping records is not the most exciting thing in the world. But it is necessary.

Tax time filings are when many people find out where they have tended to get a little sloppy, but I had a contact not long ago that helped me see that the point of keeping records is not just for yourself.

A church in a nearby town contacted me because they had received a gift. It was an accumulation of coins.

The giver apparently did not provide anything to indicate what was given nor what the coins were worth. When I was first emailed I simply was informed that there were some silver dollars and a $20 gold piece or two.

The church had no coin collector member to turn to, so the member who was tasked with finding out about the coins was starting from scratch.

I emailed a few questions back and I think the church got what it needed to find out from me eventually.

Think how much easier it would have been for the recipient of the gift in this case if the giver had written a letter, or even just a note, to accompany the coins that said, “100 common Morgan and Peace silver dollars and two common Saint-Gaudens $20 gold pieces.”

That doesn’t take much effort, does it? It doesn’t even require a degree in accounting.

The recipient of such a gift then would not go into a panic when told that the coins might have to be checked for dates and mintmarks and they might also have to be graded.

A ballpark value could be quickly and easily arrived at and everybody would be happy.

I know that keeping records is not the most exciting activity, but taking a little trouble now will make it so much easier for your heirs later.

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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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