Every issue of Numismatic News is like a personal letter to every collector who subscribes to tell him or her what is new about the hobby this week.
This issue is the same, but at year end I feel like I am in limbo. Why? Well the cover date is Jan. 13, but the production date is two weeks prior. That means I really don’t know how 2008 ends and I won’t know before this issue goes to press.
Will gold close around its current price of around $868 a troy ounce, or will it have one of those days before the close of business Dec. 31 that hurls it well beyond $900?
Will silver stay around $11 a troy ounce, or will it plunge under $10?
Ordinarily, these 24-hour swings don’t amount to much, nor is it important that they be reported before the next issue. However, at the end of the year, the prices become official prices. Comparisons are made and I can write a headline about gold being up or down for the year. This year I can guess it will be up, but the margin is small enough that one day’s business can change the whole thrust of the story.
Not every year has a limbo period. It depends on how the internal production period gets split up by the New Year’s holiday. This year, the paper goes to press before the holiday, meaning I don’t get to see the end-of-the-year closing prices.
Other years, the holiday comes so early in the week that the press date is after the close of the year. Then what I know and what the cover date says match more closely even with the built-in lead time.
More critically for the whole hobby, this issue is also put together before the Florida United Numismatists convention convenes in Orlando. As appealing as it is for many people to get out of snow country for the hoped-for sunshine of Florida, the largest appeal is knowing what kind of business climate hobbyists are experiencing at the first and very major one of our vagabond bourses.
Now I am not using the term vagabond in the sense of a penniless hobo, but in the sense that much the hobby’s business has no permanent address. The major players travel around the country, set themselves up at bourse tables, do business, pack up, leave and then do it again in another location the following week. I await a sense of that first FUN experience, but will not get it before this issue goes to press.
Then there is the rhythm of the holidays themselves. It seems like I am interrupting the steady progression of Christmas and New Year’s activities simply by sitting at this desk for several days.
Fortunately for me, work is the cure for the loggy physical sensations brought on by getting filled up with too many delicious treats and having too little movement to go with them.
Germany’s Iron Chancellor Otto von Bismarck said that the public shouldn’t see how law and sausages are made. Perhaps the same is true for this particular issue of Numismatic News.
It is not a pretty sight in this building as many colleagues are away enjoying their time off and in some places lights aren’t even turned on.
That all changes next week and I will be ready to go.