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Being cheap not always inexpensive

I am sure most people would agree that there is a big difference between being frugal and cutting corners.

Coin collectors are well known for their frugality It seems to come with the territory when you are a collector, but in my case I had a healthy dose of relatives who grew up in the Depression.

That economic catastrophe left scars large and small.

From the distance of time, some of them can even be funny.

When I am at family gatherings, we sometimes lapse into stories about who has squeezed a dollar the most since we last got together. These are stories we offer to tell about ourselves. It is not about calling attention to others.

I can simply say that being cheap runs in my family.

Then there is the matter of cutting corners. This is doing less than is necessary to get a job done right. It is not a matter of frugality. It is unwise.

I had an email over the weekend from someone who had purchased a couple of old albums at a flea market a month ago. He put his coins in it. Now he says the coins are full of spots.

He said the coins involved were all middle to higher circulated grades up to AU.

He tried swabbing the spots with a Q-tip and used acetone to no avail.

The two sets involved were Liberty Head and Buffalo nickels.

He concluded by writing, “I hope others often check for differences in their coins’ appearances and cautiously purchase supplies at (a) discount.”

This is a sad story.

How much value was lost by trying to save a bit of money by not purchasing new holders or new albums?

This is cutting corners.

I imagine I another reader or two will tell me of their good luck in using old coin holders. I will have no doubt that their stories will be true.

However, as this story illustrates, we might not necessarily know the risks we are running when we try to save a little money.

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