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Perfect time to brag about it

What’s worth more to you, bragging rights or 10 bucks?

That’s essentially what an email that I received boils down to.

A Texas collector wrote me this:

“I received my auto-ship of two 3-coin sets. However, one of the sets is mis-packaged. It contains a P and S Voyageurs quarter, but the D mint quarter is an Apostle Islands. My question is this, will a mis-packaged set ever be worth a premium or should I just send it back for an exchange?

“I know that these 3-coin sets will never really be worth anything, but I’ve collected them from the beginning and the only thing worth less than a complete set is a partial set.”

How would you respond to this email? You can tell the sender is generally knowledgeable.

Before I tell you what I would do, I will show you what I wrote to the sender.

The text of my email follows:

“Thanks for the report of your problem. I am sorry it happened, but readers will be interested to hear about it. The general rule is packaging mistakes are not worth a premium because they are so easily duplicated clandestinely. I would send it back unless you are interested in simply keeping the set as a conversation piece.”

Now I use the terms “conversation piece” and “bragging rights” as having the same meaning.

Taking such a mis-packaged set to a coin club meeting and passing it around is to me worth way more than the $9.95 cost.

It’s a “Look what I got” moment.

In my mind, that’s a form of bragging, though you could easily call it “show and tell.”

Showing off such a set would open the door to many conversations.

The most important conversation would be to explain that a mis-packaged set is not the same thing as say a 1990 proof set that includes a proof cent without the “S” mintmark.

In the case of the “No S” 1990 proof cent, the situation is that the Mint accidentally created a very rare error coin worth almost $5,000 where the only way to get it was by finding it in a proof set.

In the case of this newly mis-packaged uncirculated Voyageurs set, if you take the three coins out of it, they are all ordinary pieces, indistinguishable from any other uncirculated quarters.

If you take the "No S” 1990 proof cent out of the proof set, it is still a rare error coin that is easily distinguished from non-error proofs.

That’s why I say in this case the choice actually boils down to bragging rights or $9.95.

I think if I were the recipient of this set, I would choose the bragging rights.

Having such rights would be great fun in this case – definitely worth a blog about it.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."