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Newcomers help keep past alive

Collectors share many experiences and many traits. What we do not share is the same time line.

I began collecting 50 years ago. There are other collectors who started before me and still more who began after me.

The longer you are a collector, the easier it becomes to forget about experiences if you are not reminded of them from time to time.

Fortunately for me, I am reminded of many things by my readers that I might otherwise allow to slide to the back shelves of my memory.

I received an email yesterday to thank me for running a feature story about silver war nickels that were manufactured by the United States Mint 1942-1945 to conserve nickel and copper for more critical wartime uses.

It reads in part:

“I have been collecting coins for about 5 years ... I never considered adding Jefferson nickels to my collection until I read the lovely article ...

After reading the article, I visited my local dealer the very next day and requested all 11 coins in Gem BU grade. My dealer immediately provided me with his best selections, where each coin came from an original bank roll. The price point for this grade was also amazingly affordable. As a bonus the 1943-D has full steps to boot. The fact war nickels’ composition includes 35 percent silver is only another added bonus. Thanks to this article I was successful in completing my first mini-set.”

What a great reminder that all U.S. coins have interesting stories to tell and just because I first learned about war nickels when they were still in circulation doesn’t mean they are not a topic that will resonate with today’s collectors.

Perhaps I will follow up with a feature on the short set of Walking Liberty half dollars or even short series like two-cent pieces and 20-cent pieces.

That email was timed at 4:11 p.m. yesterday. Another one popped in at 4:59 p.m. just before I was due to leave the office.

“I have this quarter and am wondering if it has been noted before. There is no remnant of the letter “B,” just a blank, bright space.”

I responded:

“The likely cause is a filled die prevented the metal that would have formed the “B” from flowing into that part of the die. These things happen all the time and they have little more than curiosity value.”

There is an inexhaustible curiosity about error coins. I believe it is because this part of numismatics still has firm roots in circulation finds, which is something everyone can enjoy no matter what the budget.

Keeping in touch with readers keeps me in touch with five decades of my own experiences. It’s a good feeling.

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