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Platinum question not a stirring one

Variety is the spice of life, we are told, but when it comes to picking a poll question topic each week, sometimes not so much.

This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Variety is the spice of life, we are told, but when it comes to picking a poll question topic each week, sometimes not so much.


Most weeks when it is time to figure out what the poll question should be, I ask colleagues what we should ask about the cent this week.

They groan, but still understand what I mean. It seems that no matter how often we ask a cent question, readers want to share their opinions about the coin, its collectibility and its future. It touches everyone in a way that few numismatic topics do.

There are a few other evergreen topics like the quality of coin designs, but the further afield we go with a topic, the risk rises for a low level of response.

I would never ask a question like, “Do you collect large cents by Sheldon number?” Even though it is the same denomination, it is too narrow a focus and I don’t think most readers would feel it viscerally. That is not a slam against early large cent collecting, it is simply a reflection of the fact that collecting early large cents is like going to college while most of the rest of us are still in the sixth grade. It is something to aspire to when we have the experience/time/income/opportunity.

However, last week I asked a question in a fairly small area, but I thought perhaps I phrased it in enough of a general way as to make it answerable. Was I wrong.

“Proof one-ounce platinum Eagles go on sale Aug. 12. Do you consider the coin affordable?” (See page 15.)

I don’t know what readers might have been muttering under their breath when they read it, but they certainly didn’t share.

Perhaps the topic was so bad that their eyes glazed over and they completely forgot they were reading our weekly e-newsletter or Page 4 of the paper.

Sorry about that. I do know that platinum has not been part of the historical experience of collectors. Those who are brave enough to pony up almost $2,000 a pop are probably much more likely to converse about the metal’s use in catalytic converters on automobiles than respond to a poll question.

This year’s theme, if that is what makes the coin attractive to collectors, is a continuation of the six-year Preamble of the Constitution series with “Form a More Perfect Union.”

Perhaps the coin should have delved a little deeper into the historical document to Article I, Section 10 and picked up “No state shall ... make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.”

Now if that were the theme of this year’s proof platinum American Eagle, I am sure I would have gotten a much higher response rate to the poll question.

I have no control of that. Hey, 2013 will be the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Federal Reserve. Perhaps I can ask about a possible commemorative for that historical event. There’s an idea: a gold $5 to mark the centennial of the Fed. Yes, I know, a clad half dollar would be more appropriate. Now that would generate a flood of responses.


2011 U.S. Coin Digest: Cents
Your best reference for the latest details and values for circulating and non-circulating cents.

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