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At root, I'm still a collector

Medals are second class in the minds of many collectors.

If something is not legal tender, that is, a coin, it is not worth collecting.

Perhaps the prejudice against medals is not that extreme, but the whole bullion coin market is built on the premise that medals are inferior to coins even if the legal-tender status of the coins is conferred in peculiar denominations.

That is why American Eagles, South African Krugerrands and Canadian Maple Leaf coins are widely traded and precious metal items like American Arts gold medallions aren’t.

We aren’t going to change our current mind set, which is why I ignored a Mint announcement Nov. 5 that it is reviving the sale of four Presidential medals. This didn't seem important in the rush of other news.

The medals honor Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

They are made of bronze and come in diameters of 1-5/16th inches and 3 inches.

What I like about them, if I can say a few kind words, is that they are affordable numismatic items.

The small size is $6.95. The large one is $39.95.

I do not have to think about bullion when I consider these medals.

I do not have to think about grading.

I can handle them roughly if I so choose, but of course I do not, but it is nice not to have a plastic slab between me and the medal.

I do not look to potential profit.

I simply look at medals as the works of various artists at the Mint and the biographies of the Presidents depicted.

This urge to own and to learn about medals is virtually identical to what I was feeling when my imagination was captured by collecting Lincoln cents so long ago.

I wasn’t a bullion speculator or a grading stickler then.

I have never lost that simple curiosity and pride of owning an object simply for the sake of owning it, but I have to admit that these characteristics of mine get buried in the apparently more sophisticated rush to grade and speculate about more valuable coins.

Many years ago I purchased a dozen or so of the small Presidential medals simply because I wanted them.

Where they are exactly now I will have to puzzle over.

My memory is fuzzy beyond the fact that I never got rid of them.

Such is the fate of the numismatic object that is not a coin.

However, I think every collector should buy one or two of these Presidential medals, or all four, to reacquaint themselves with the pure pleasure of ownership without great risk and escape the feeling of being caught up in the hectic elements of modern coin collecting.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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