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Be specific when asking questions

To be active in numismatics is to be full of questions.

Identifying coins can be no easy task once you get beyond the familiarity of the cents through half dollars that we encounter daily.

We collectors sometimes enjoy watching the puzzlement of young clerks when they are unfamiliar with a half dollar, Presidential dollar or $2 bill offered in payment for something.

It might be amusing, but no matter what the age or level of experience, we all still will encounter something that we need information about.

If you have a question – and you will sooner or later – when you ask it, try to be specific.

If you do not, don’t assume I am giving you the runaround if I in turn ask for clarifications.

Over the years I have been asked many times about my book. I have to figure out if the caller or emailer is referring specifically to books with my byline on them or whether the book is mine because the company publishes it.

Same with my paper. Most writers know that I am editor of Numismatic News, but some do not. I get questions about my paper or my publication that is sometimes in reference to others and I have to figure out what is being referred to.

Often I figure it out without a problem, but sometimes I have to ask for more information.

What prompts me to write about this particular topic this morning is an inquiry that came by email over the weekend.

It reads, “The silver weight on a number of coins was changed from the Krause 2014 world coin catalogue. A dealer and I wonder why. Do you know the explanation?”

That's all there was except for the subject line identifier: "Question about 2015 World Coin Catalogue."

I do not work on the Standard Catalog series of books, so I will refer the email to the editor, George Cuhaj, but in a book that encompasses thousands of changes with the output of each new annual edition, it would help a lot to know which coins are in question.

In short, don’t stop asking questions. They are important. But help those whom you ask by being as specific as possible.

It will speed up replies and eliminate the need for going back and forth.

As editor of my books and my papers, I thank you.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."