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'C' in collector means cash

What’s the difference between a collector and a noncollector?

It is the willingness to spend money on a collectible.

As I was gathering dealer comments at the Memphis paper money show June 9, I arrived at one dealer’s table as he was attempting to conclude a transaction.

He invited me to stay, so I observed what was going on.

Four notes were arrayed before a couple. They were National Bank Notes with the name of the bank that the woman currently worked for.

She wanted the note to frame for her office.

There was one large-size and three-small size notes that I could see from my vantage point.

The dealer quoted a price of a couple of hundred dollars for one of the small-size notes.

While I didn’t see the color visibly drain from her cheeks, the woman’s interest in the note very obviously had disappeared.

She didn’t dicker. She didn’t state what her price range was.

I don’t know how long they were at the table, but since four notes were under consideration, I expect they spent some while in the discussion before I got there.

I will never know what her price point was, but if you are looking for a wall decoration rather than the pleasure of actually owning the collectible object itself, I guess it is much less than real collectors are willing to pay.

That also probably explains the many $19.95 offers on late-night television.

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