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End of World Shouldn't End Hobby
November 16, 2009



When I was a kid apocalyptic science fiction books were popular. I read quite a number of them. Just don’t ask me to recite the titles. Most of them I have long since forgotten.

This strand of thought, that of gallant survivors, wove itself into apocalyptic economic writings in the 1970s. The dollar was going to be destroyed. Society would break down. Gold was a good investment to protect yourself.

Gold soared from its price-controlled $35 an ounce in the early 1970s to $850 a troy ounce in January 1980.

It wasn’t a straight shot higher. When it reached roughly $200 at the end of 1974, it then fell by roughly half and then resumed its climb in 1976.

This price movement had a strong impact on numismatics.

The apocalypse did not occur in the 1970s. Life went on. The price of gold eventually declined.

We are living in another period where the destruction of the dollar is forecast. Gold is soaring. It is having an impact on numismatics.

The weekend box office results of the movie “2012” seems to indicate that apocalyptic fiction is again in fashion. I haven’t seen it yet. I expect I will. It will make me feel like a kid again.

I don’t know how long this sort of thing will remain popular during the present cycle, but I do know that the longer gold continued its rise in the 1970s, the more some confused it with the essence of numismatics itself.

That is a mistake. It is an easy one to make, but it is an mistake nevertheless. Because at the end of gold’s last cycle, some became so disappointed with “numismatics” that they left the hobby.

Don’t let the need to consider asset preservation strategies overwhelm the collector impulse. By doing so, a relaxing hobby involving life-long learning and a method of getting your mind off troubles, gets turned into a tension-wracked vigil of market fluctuations.

The fun of disaster fiction is the escapism element. Keep that escapism element in your hobby, too. Just don’t mix the two together.



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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, Bank Note Reporter 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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