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Auctions: the stuff of dreams and responsibilities

I was looking at sales totals for the Stack’s Bowers auction conducted this past week in Baltimore in conjunction with the Whitman Expo.

There is enough to drool over for any collector who is interested in American numismatics.

Total sales were $11,922.392 broken down between the coin offerings of $9,741,098 and the paper money portion that brought in $2,181,294.

Those are big numbers.

But naturally, collectors look at individual coins.

A 1792 half disme graded MS-64 by the Professional Coin Grading Service reached $470,000.

Bringing $117,500 was a 1912 $20 gold piece graded Proof-66 by PCGS with a Certified Acceptance Corporation sticker.

A PCGS Proof-68 Deep Cameo 1892 gold $2.50 fetched $111,625. This same amount also was reached by a 1907 Wire Rim Indian $10 gold coin that was graded MS-66 by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation with a CAC sticker.

These are heirloom pieces that will be passed down through the generations.

Any collector who bids and wins these coins has a responsibility to numismatics generally but more specifically to his own family.

Are they aware of the great value these coins have? Are they in the loop about the buyer’s plans for the coins and eventual disposition?

None of us is immortal, though we hate to think about it.

But even though I write this in the context of great historical pieces sold by a prominent and successful auction company, every word applies to every collector and his holdings right down to the last 90 percent silver dime.

Even if you will never own the famous 1792 half disme, the funds you spend on your collection affect your spouse and your family. How you plan to handle your collection when you are no longer present to direct things will materially affect your family’s well being.

Even if you cannot buy such an historically great coin, you can behave like an historically great coin collector and make the appropriate provisions to pass along to your heirs the many benefits the hobby has given you.

Once you know that you have the future covered, you can enjoy your present collecting triumphs all the more.

Congratulations to Stack’s Bowers and all auction firms that help collector dreams come true and congratulations to the buyers, whose actions still have the power to grab my attention and make me dream the great dream of collecting.

P.S. Apologies for the Tuesday blog. After I wrote it I apparently posted it by accident in the wrong place. It is now where it should be.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."