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Funny or Heartless?
October 24, 2007



I was reading my mail yesterday when I burst out laughing. It was loud enough that my co-workers looked up and wondered what the joke was.

I did seem to be having a merry time of it.

What I was reading was a reply card that said this: "Yes, I want to help American Numismatic Association instilll the passion of numismatics for those less fortunate."

Am I some sort of Scrooge? Do I say "Humbug" when someone wishes me "Merry Christmas?"

No that is not me.

What I found funny was the idea that any of us who are engaged in coin collecting can somehow be called the less fortunate. I have always considered collectors the most fortunate people.

The ANA mailing was seeking donations toward a worthy goal of providing more scholarships to Young Numismatists for the annual Summer Seminar. That is indeed a worthy goal, but I cannot get past the initial few words that I read.

Words matter in my business. I have been chewed out in letters about stories that call "proof" a grade rather than a method of manufacture.

I think I would respond better to an appeal that would ask for help in opening doors to greater opportunity to fulfill a drive for numismatic knowledge that we all share. Sure, that would imply that any collectors no matter what their circumstances already had opportunities, but I think that more closely fits the reality of collecting and our self image.

I may be out there on a limb all by myself in this view, but I wanted to ask, "What's next? Taking up a collection so someone can buy a 1913 Liberty Head nickel he couldn't otherwise afford?"

I'll volunteer for that.

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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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