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Childhood lesson applies to hobby

When I was a very young child, I apparently was very willful. If I was in a game with a ball, I would suddenly run off with it if I didn’t like what was going on.

I guess it was my version of “I’ll take my ball and go home.”

I don’t remember at what age I learned to play nice with others, but it is a lesson that we all have to learn sooner or later, that is unless we want to play all our games alone.

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Numismatics can be a very solitary pursuit, but even within it, we have to rely on others. If we do not, it would probably be better to simply quit the game and go home.

Sooner or later, you (or your heirs) will need someone else’s involvement, even if you never bought a coin, read a book, subscribed to a newspaper or went to a coin show. Somebody out there will acquire your coins whether it is a coin dealer, or a startled bank teller surprised when your heirs plop your collection on the counter.

Wouldn’t it be better to act now to learn how others can help in maximizing future value of your collection as well as your enjoyment of your coins?

I expect most readers would answer “yes” to that question, but occasionally I am reminded of the existence of the “go it alone” school of thought.

This time it came as an email:

“You have just reinforced my belief that the coin grading services are a joke. In your ‘Coin Clinic’ column, a collector sent his coin to two different services and received two different grades. He thought the first one was wrong and you said they both could be. The only reason I would ever have someone look at a coin is to tell me if it is real or a fake. The grading services are there for the rich and big collector to get richer and the small collector to get fleeced.”

An acknowledgement that grading services can make a mistake is proof that what they provide is a joke?

If the writer believes that, why would he trust such a joke to evaluate whether his coins are genuine or fake?

Grading services have become indispensable to numismatics. You cannot open an auction catalog without noticing that slabbed coins are dominant. Certified coins would not have achieved this market position without consistently adding value to the coins consigned by the owner.

If you look on a bourse floor, you see slabs. If you visit shops, you see slabs. Everywhere thoughtful collectors gather for the purpose of buying and selling, you see slabs.

Often, if you have coins for sale and they are not in slabs, dealers will lower the amount they will pay when they buy them from you.

Even collectors of coins ordered directly from the Mint have decided that the possibility of getting an MS-70 coin makes it worthwhile to send in their newly acquired pristine prizes for third-party grading.

Any collector can choose to live without grading services, but as I found out as a child, it is no fun to play alone. The joke, if there is one, will be on him.

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