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September 28, 2010

I had a very long e-mail yesterday in response to this week’s poll question. The sender said he had invested in coins decades ago and lost money.

The wound was still raw.

He responded to the latest e-newsletter poll question with a very long story of how he bought $10,000 in rare coins. And, yes, he did use the words decades ago.

Unfortunately, he never said what he bought, when he bought the coins, or when he sold the coins. He cited individuals whose names he could not remember.

I could feel his pain, but his e-mail lacked any details that would allow me or anyone else to make any kind of independent judgment.

I have no doubt that he lost money. I sympathize.

But I also have the nagging suspicion that he never knew what it was that he was buying and he never knew the individuals he was consulting.

In other words, he was never a collector.

That is a shame because being a collector is the GPS of the hobby map. Nothing makes sense unless you know what something is and why others would want to collect it.

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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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