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When Buying Seems a Triumph
November 17, 2008

On Saturday as I was doing my weekly rounds, I spotted a sign at a gas station stating the price of a gallon of unleaded regular was $1.979. That's the first time I have seen the price that low in a long time and it is less than half the price I was paying in July.

I didn't need gas, but I had to stop in. How could I not? I wanted to be able to tell everyone I knew what I paid.

I pumped less than four gallons into the tank. The pump showed $7.51, which I pushed up to $7.55.

Then I went inside. I told the woman at the register that I didn't really need gas, but I had to stop when I saw the sign.

She laughed. She said I wasn't the only one. She took my money.

The next guy to the cash register waved a $10 bill in the air and that was his total tab. He must have done what I had.

It was a great feeling, a minor victory in the present economic battle. I didn't know the other guy. He seemed to be enjoying the moment as I was.

Have you ever bought a coin where the purpose was the ability to brag that you got it, or that you got it at an incredible price?

Collectors do that. There is a competitiveness behind our acquisitiveness. In fact, the existence of registry sets at the Web sites of the major grading services is a testimonial to this impulse.

It seems strange. Another collector craving is privacy. We don't want to be marked for burglary or robbery.

So we have sets that are assembled and sold under assumed names. Understandable.

On Saturday I could enjoy a moment in the daily routine. It satisfied my acquisitiveness and neither of us purchasers knew the other.

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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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