I had a couple of letters in recent weeks that surprised me.
After being a hobbyist for 50 years and a numismatic journalist for 35, this is saying something.
The first letter arrived and I ran it as a letter to the editor. It complained about the content of features having too many prices in them. This was published. A second letter arrived to concur with the publication of the first.
Is this a new trend?
In my time, I don’t recall ever getting a complaint of this nature before. They usually go the other way. There aren’t enough price comparisons.
In broad strokes, numismatics has always been about history, pricing and obtaining pieces whether as new issues or from dealers who handle the coins in question. These are leavened by the necessity of grading accurately.
The speculative gene has always been ever present. I don’t know of any collector who is interested in overpaying for something and/or losing money on a coin.
That doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes and lose money, but it does mean we research prices to a fare thee well.
The Coin Market price guide section always ranks at the top of reader surveys. If I ever need an ego check as a writer, this is it. It is like being beaten out by the telephone book. Fortunately, I am a collector and I understand the reasons why.
Prices are central to what we do.
I expect it will always be this way. However, these two letters remind me that prices are not the only element in numismatics. It always is important to try to keep an appropriate balance.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”