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Putting potential buyers on the spot

“Does this dress make me look fat?"

That question and ones like it are the nightmare of husbands everywhere.

In numismatics, we have similar questions and answers.

I had an email in my inbox this morning that I think is an example of this.

Reader Mitch Ernst wrote, “I was at the Nebraska City, Neb., coin show yesterday manning a table for the Nebraska Numismatic Association.

“I used to the opportunity to inform people that the Boys Town commems were going to be released on March 9th.

“The reaction was interesting. The talk about the commems was that there was no talk. The interesting part of that is that this is from people from the home state of Boys Town and people familiar with Boys Town.

“When I mentioned that I had heard online that the coins will be released March 9th the unanimous reaction was ho-hum.

“The seeming cause of the lack of interest in these coins commemorating a Nebraska landmark by Nebraskans?

“Unfamiliar designs.

“The coins don’t seem to resonate with Nebraskans with the images they find familiar with Boys Town.

“I even spoke to someone that identified himself as a Boys Town alumni and he flatly stated he really disliked the designs.”

In reading this email, I thought that perhaps this negative response isn’t as surprising as it seems.

Coin collectors have been presented a succession of U.S. commemorative coins for 35 years now.

For many, if not most of these issues, the buyers lost money after buying them from the Mint.

When a potential buyer is asked whether he will buy the lastest commemorative coins honoring an icon in the home state, it is not politic in this instance for a collector to say he is tired of losing money on expensive coins.

It also is not politic to say he doesn’t want to donate the surcharge income to Boys Town.

Boys Town is a noble charity that does good work.

Most people give money to charities. But they want to be the ones to choose who gets their hard-earned dollars, not the government.

Surcharges are an involuntary charitable contribution. That rankles.

It is much better for a Nebraska collector to reply that he doesn’t like the designs.

Liking or disliking a coin design is a matter of taste.

It is an individual choice.

There is no arguing with it.

It is the least offensive response.

It is a safe way of saying I am not spending money on the latest commemoratives.

Coin collectors in the other 49 states might not be as polite.

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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