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Opportunity knocks. Who will answer?

Opportunity knocks fairly often in numismatics but so many collectors turn it down.

Perhaps they do not recognize it.

There will be three educational seminars at the end of February in Atlanta as part of the events surrounding the American Numismatic Association National Money Show.

I know as soon as I use the words “educational” and “seminar” there are many who immediately conclude “boring” and change their focus to some other writer who will entertain them.

That is a big mistake.

I am not against entertainment, but to truly appreciate coin collecting, it is important to acquire some basic knowledge.

That’s why I decided to offer a plug for these seminars in my blog.

“The Fundamentals of Grading U.S. Coins” will be offered 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 25 and Feb. 26.

It will be taught by Rod Gillis, ANA numismatic instructor, and Mike Ellis, who is an ANA governor and a minting variety specialist.

Learning to grade is fundamental to any collector’s success and enjoyment. I don’t need to tell you what the costs of grading mistakes can be.

The three seminars are conducted simultaneously, so attendees must pick just one.

The second seminar on the schedule, “Detecting Counterfeit U.S. Gold Coinage” I will admit will interest a minority of American collectors because of the affordability issue, but with so many “investors” piling into the gold coin market to preserve their assets, making sure they get what they pay for is imperative.

This seminar will be taught by Brian Silliman, senior numismatist at Panda America, former grader/authenticator, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation), and former authenticator at the ANA Authentication Bureau.

“Numismatic Evaluations” is almost a numismatic psychology course as it explains why collectors and dealers prize what we prize.

Attendees will be instructed in the basics of wholesale and retail pricing as well as concepts like conditional rarity, eye appeal and toning.

It will be taught by Armen Moloian, professional numismatist, Moloian Rare Coins.

These courses are not free, but ANA members get a big break.

Interested individuals can register on ANA’s website: www.money.org, or by calling (719) 482-9850. Member price is $198 (ANA life members receive a $25 discount). Non-members will be charged $298.

Even at $298, this would be money well spent for a lifetime with fewer collecting problems.

If all an attendee would learn is to avoid buying coins that are offered at small fractions of price guide prices without careful checking, it would save many unpleasant surprises. In our field there is always a reason for an assigned price. Nobody who has a coin that can be sold for 100 cents on the dollar is going to sell it for a small fraction of that any more than an individual would call his stock broker to tell him to sell his IBM at half price today.

Knowing how to grade, detect fakes and how the market prices coins are fundamental collecting skills and would help prevent purchasing mistakes.

ANA should be applauded for spreading this knowledge.

Those who don’t take advantage of opportunities like this and work a little at them might find out later the true cost of their focus on entertainment.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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