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Playing the game is the whole point

Every sports fan knows the pressure of the clock running out.

Some of the most dramatic wins occur from a winning shot just as the buzzer sounds or a Hail Mary pass is caught against all odds.

As a collector, what is your clock telling you?

As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that time is not quite the friend to me that it once was. Some of my dumbest purchases were mitigated by the passage of time.

Sometimes this was the result of a surge in silver prices that made my purchase of an overgraded 1923-S Peace dollar of absolutely no financial consequence to me. Four decades repaired the financial damage, and I still learned my lesson.

I don’t have four more decades to bail out dumb purchases that I might make now – at least without some huge new advance in longevity medicine.

My time horizon now is a much shorter 10 to 20 years.

That’s still a long time to be a collector. There are many individuals who have come and gone in less time, but any veteran collector knows what I mean.

Are shortening time horizons amplifying the panic-buying episodes for new Mint products like baseball coins and special American Eagle sets?

Is the ticking clock aggravating the sense of loss when the Mint says, “Sorry, sold out?”

Some collectors my age or older who have written me or telephoned me have thrown better fits than I could have when I was 3 years old.

Less time means fewer opportunities.

There is a sense of deprivation.

When I was 14 I felt the loss of having missed something, but I also expected that there would be other opportunities that would come my way.

By and large that has proved true.

So what do you do with your ticking clock?

You shouldn’t ignore it, because it might leave your heirs in the lurch, but you shouldn’t dwell on it, either, because it might keep you off the numismatic field entirely.

Not playing the game at all would be the worst outcome.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."