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Letters contain powerful messages

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The best part of my job as editor of Numismatic News is finding out day by day what readers are thinking. They let me know by email, mail and telephone. All of these contacts are much appreciated.

Without being able to interact with readers in this way, I would go very stale, very quickly because it is impossible to both tend to my duties and go to a coin show every weekend to see collectors in person.

My interest in what readers think goes back in time to well before my employment here. The very first copy of Numismatic News I ever looked at was a giveaway at a weekend coin show in early 1969. I was 13 years old. I took it home with me and I read it from beginning to end. It is probably fair to say that I devoured the contents.

I already had several annual editions of the Red Book in my possession, had subscribed to Coins Magazine almost two years earlier and had paid a number of visits to various coin shops.

When I was done with my first issue of Numismatic News, I decided I simply had to subscribe. What pushed me to that decision so quickly? It was letters to the editor. I read them. I won’t say I agreed with them all, but so many years later, I simply do not remember the specific topics covered. But the impression they left with me was that these were the sort of people I wanted to associate with.

That feeling has never changed for me. Some recent letters that I have received indicate that the feeling is reciprocated, that I am the sort of person that the writers would like to be associated with.

One reader even went so far as to suggest that I fly down and help him begin the process of disposing of some of his numismatic material.
I enjoyed reading his letter. I am only human. It is flattering to be considered so trustworthy that such an offer would be made.

I wrote a reply turning down the honor, suggesting that perhaps an attorney or a family member would be better suited for the suggested task.

This kind of human interaction is what letters and columns are all about. The column about disposing of a collection by Bob Merrill reprinted in the July 2 issue was something that I chose to publish again because it was referred to by a letter writer in the June 11 issue, who remembered when it had been published the first time in the year 2000.

Such is the power of one letter to the editor that I received so many requests for copies of Bob Merrill’s piece that it was only logical to republish it in order to give our telephone operators and our photocopier and me a rest.

The best part about letters is that ongoing power to surprise me. There is much in how collectors think that might be considered to be predictable, yet that doesn’t mean that our views and the way we express them are the same. Far from it. That’s what keeps me coming back for more week in and week out. I want to know what others are thinking and I hope you do, too.

 

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