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I had a very long e-mail yesterday in response to this week’s poll question. The sender said he had invested in coins decades  ago and lost money.

The wound was still raw.

He responded to the latest e-newsletter poll question with a very long story of how he bought $10,000 in rare coins. And, yes, he did use the words decades ago.

Unfortunately, he never said what he bought, when he bought the coins, or when he sold the coins. He cited individuals whose names he could not remember.

I could feel his pain, but his e-mail lacked any details that would allow me or anyone else to make any kind of independent judgment.

I have no doubt that he lost money. I sympathize.

But I also have the nagging suspicion that he never knew what it was that he was buying and he never knew the individuals he was consulting.

In other words, he was never a collector.

That is a shame because being a collector is the GPS of the hobby map. Nothing makes sense unless you know what something is and why others would want to collect it.

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