Information is worth money. It may not seem like it in the Internet age when “content” seems free.
However, I am reminded of the basic nature of the newspaper business and the value of content by a recent e-mail from a reader.
The first newspapers were vital to merchants who needed to know what ships with what cargoes had just docked in port, or what ships had been sunk in war or hurricanes. The local prices of the goods they bought and sold rose and fell with each new tidbit of information.
In the modern age we have forgotten this link because there are so many specialty services to keep track of things that are important to business.
But not long before I began this column, I received an e-mail that started me thinking about the economic value of information.
The sender of the e-mail wondered if I knew whether there was going to be an introductory ceremony for the second Lincoln cent design. I responded that I assumed there would be, but I had no information from the Mint yet.
Usually with e-mails of this kind, that would be the end of it. However, the sender persisted. He responded to my reply by asking if I could e-mail him when I obtained the information.
I replied that I could not because I had no way of keeping track of requests of this kind over what could be something that will not be revealed for weeks or months yet.
He thanked me. I admired his commitment to Lincolns, but then it hit me.
The first Lincoln cent design generated crazy prices on eBay because it was not being released in a timely fashion through normal banking channels.
What if this happened again with the second cent release?
Many of the cents that initially traded in the hobby were released in Hodgenville, Ky., Feb. 12 at the official Mint debut ceremony at Lincoln’s birthplace. Attendees were able to buy the new cents for face value afterwards. Some of these were sold at a profit. Some of the profits might have been large.
Would such a profit from such an exchange at such a ceremony be worth planning ahead, buying a plane ticket, or taking a drive?
It seems to me the answer is yes. If I had that information, potential attendees for such a ceremony could plan ahead.
Now if I can think of this, so can others. The Mint had better plan to make sure that supplies on hand are adequate.
Does this mean more coins are likely to be distributed?
Probably. But it is not a certainty. Interest in certain coins has been known to fade away, but usually not for a second issue. The second issue usually inspires buyers who hope to repeat the experience of the first issue.
Only then do markets tend to catch up.
For things like First Spouse gold coins, even the third issue was able to keep up the sales pace of the first two before the decline set in for issue number four.
How valuable is information?
It still has value. If you can get it for free, so much the better, but buying it is still not a bad idea.