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Real collectors created line by line

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I had a telephone call today from someone who purchased the 2014 Coin Digest book. He did not tell me if he had been a collector long. The sound of his voice indicated he was older than I am and the squeak of a desk chair or something similar to what I sit in could be heard in the background during our conversation.

The caller wanted to talk about cents and nickels. For cents, he asked what our notation “No D” meant in our listing for 1922 cents.
I told him that all cents were struck in Denver that year and were supposed to have a mintmark. Some coins were struck with some sort of grease or debris filling the “D” part of the die so no mintmark was imparted to the coin. I said many collectors call this coin the 1922 Plain cent.

The caller did not seem like a veteran of circulation finds days because he reacted as someone who is getting new information rather than as someone who yearned to find a 1922 Plain in circulation as I did 50 years ago.

In the nickel section he asked about the 1954-S/D. He wanted to know what the “S/D” means. I told him that it was a coin struck with a die that had an “S” mintmark punched over a previously punched “D” mintmark.

He asked if the position was still to the right of Monticello and I said it was.

Then he kind of sheepishly asked me what it meant when there was no mintmark in that location.

I happily told him that it meant it was struck at the Philadelphia Mint.

The importance of this call was not the nature of questions that were being asked, but what they indicated to me.

The caller was actually reading the book line by line as I did the 1965 Red Book, which was the very first guide book that I purchased.

I sometimes wonder if newcomers look at guide books the way I once did. At last I have confirmation that there are people who do study these books line by line.

I know it can be heavy going. I know there is a lot to absorb. One question usually begets another and no book can hope to provide all of the answers.

What I also hope the caller is experiencing is the same sense of wonder and excitement that I did when I first saw all those lists of dates, mintages and prices in various grades.

In recent years, most telephone calls that I get about the price guide books are from people who are definitely not collectors, and they do not seem to have any intentions of becoming one. They usually grab the book and look at the price of any coin that is farthest to the right. They resist being coaxed back to the lower grade columns that more likely represent the value of what they have just found or just inherited.

I understand these calls are necessary. It is a part of what I do, but I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is to answer the questions of someone whom I know is undertaking coin collecting as something new and worth learning. That caller not only will go far, but he will have a great deal of fun doing it.

 

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