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It’s all about letters readers write

There was not much space for letters to the editor or anything else except the monthly price guide in this issue of Numismatic News. I have been forced to borrow the “Viewpoint” space on Page 7 simply to provide a smattering of letters this week. I do so because of the importance I put on letters.

Usually I am able to devote a large amount of space to the missives I receive from readers  and I expect to be able do so again next week.

If there is a topic on your mind, please sit down, write it and then send it to me, either by email or old-fashioned snail mail. The contact information is here:

Address letters to Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. All letters must be signed and include a return address. Numismatic News reserves the right to edit all letters. E-mail should be sent to david.harper@fwcommunity.com. Include your city and state in your email.

I know other readers will be interested in what’s on your mind as we head into the final weeks of 2015. I am particularly interested and I have two reasons.

First, I know how popular letters are with readers. They consistently rank in the top two or three items in the paper whenever we take a reader survey. They are right behind the Coin Market price guide and the Coin Clinic question and answer column.

For me, I think letters are crucially important. I read them. In fact I study them. They have always given me guidance as to what I should be doing with the rest of the paper. Because they are always just plain interesting, I enjoy this part of my job especially.

My second reason for the high importance I place on letters is that I can make the case that I wouldn’t be sitting at this desk today were in not for letters to the editor written by readers in the past.

Back in 1969 when I got a sample copy of Numismatic News at a local coin show, I read the issue from front page to back page ad.

I found the letters particularly interesting. They were my tipping point. I couldn’t wait to send my subscription in. Then each week I eagerly opened each issue when it came in my mail on Saturdays.

While topics do change with the times, I seem to recall a small wave of support at the time for putting Teddy Roosevelt on the nickel. Naturally, the idea went nowhere. Many if not most collector ideas go nowhere in the short term, but that does not mean they are no good.

In fact, the seeds of the wonderful successes we have been having with new circulating coin designs since 1999 were planted during the barren 1960s when we endured coin shortages, the end of silver, and the temporary end of mintmarks as well as of proof sets and mint sets.

Nowadays the Mint can’t seem to give us enough new coins and new sets. In the 1960s the official mindset was all the other way: what could be taken away next?

But the letters to the editor were a fertile field of ideas that kept the freshness and creativity of numismatics alive and on display for all to see.

By expressing these ideas in letters, collectors were letting off steam and creating a bond between themselves and thousands of others. Those bonds are strong and have lasted in some cases right down to the present time.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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