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Make a success out of your problems

I received an intriguing email the other day from Whitman Publishing.

This firm’s main product is the Red Book, something I first bought many years ago with the 1965 edition.

But what is being asked for by the email sounds like nothing to do with this popular U.S. guide book product.

Whitman wants to gather “sharp, high-resolution photographs or scans of ‘problem’ coins to illustrate in upcoming books.”

I hope collectors respond enthusiastically to this request.

There are many problem coins out there.

Collectors cannot be collectors for long without encountering them.

Problems eliminate or dramatically reduce the values of coins that would otherwise be nice to own.

What kind of problems does Whitman want to see?

“PVC damage; bag marks; scratches; edge bumps, nicks, or dents; holes; or extreme wear.”

I can identify with edge bumps.

When I was a kid I bought a 1940-D Washington quarter because I could not find it in circulation for my set.

I forget the circulated grade I ordered, but I received the coin for the money I paid.

It was in a stapled 2x2 holder.

It looked just like what I had ordered.

I was happy.

I wanted to put into my Whitman album.

I took it out of the holder.

There was a large gouge that went deeply into the edge of the coin.

The rims on both sides were fine, so there was no way to notice while in the holder.

I became unhappy, especially when I read the terms of the ad that said that if I removed the coin from the dealer’s holder, it eliminated the possibility of return.

So I did nothing.

I learned something that day.

I remember the lesson well.

It is something I thought of when I read this photo request from Whitman.

Problem coins are a fact of life for collectors.

“Most of the time we show Mint State pieces with strong details, to give our readers a good understanding of each coin type or die variety,” said Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker. “But coins with problems can be educational, too.”

There are no truer words than these by Dennis Tucker.

Problem coins are educational.

I was educated by one.

I expect other collectors have been, too.

I hope they will answer Tucker’s request.

He does have submission requirements. They are:

“Image files should be at least 300 dpi at two times actual size. Scans and cell-phone photographs are acceptable as long as the image is high-resolution and clearly illustrates the coin’s problem.”

Tucker promises that “hobbyists who share their images will be credited in the books’ acknowledgments.”

Collectors with images to share can contact Dennis Tucker at

It makes me want to dig out that disappointing 1940-D quarter from long ago.

But I might not even own it anymore.

I don’t remember.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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