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I Just Can't Help It
February 25, 2008



Here I thought I was lucky. For the first time this winter, I successfully transited Chicago O'Hare airport without delay yesterday. But then, to bring the universe back into balance, my office computer this morning was moving very slowly.

I guess I should be grateful. It is Monday and slow is better than completely locked up.

For me, this week will see me watching the price of silver. I know that platinum is moving like a rocket because of electricity shortages at mines and smelters in South Africa, but silver is in my blood as a coin collector.

The Coinage Act of 1965 is not just an historical landmark to me. To my generation of collectors, it was viewed almost as a personal affront. The act dared to take silver away from us. Sure, there were good policy reasons, but the net result was the end of the circulation finds era of coin collecting.

It might be argued that had it been the Coinage Act of 1962, I wouldn't be a coin collector at all. Could I have survived in a period as a kid trying to put a collection together when all there was to find in change was a single date for each denomination? I tend to doubt it. I had a running start of a few years to tide me over until I was earning my own money and could buy pieces from time to time.

Had I shelved coin collecting or not attempted it at all, how would my life have gone?

Gosh, I might have become a doctor or a lawyer instead of a numismatic writer. Timing is important in this life, especially when something new is being attempted. Coins got into my blood early. Silver was and is a part of it.

How is $18 an ounce affecting potential newcomers and potential collectors? Any old pre-1965 silver coin is now worth almost 13 times face value as metal.

Timing means a great deal. If this is the time for some individuals to try coin collecting, what are they deciding?



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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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