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Really, silver is up that much?

I think there is an old country-western song about telephoning 1982.

I thought of it yesterday when I received a phone call that seemed to come to me from the past.

The caller had a copy of the 1999 Standard Catalog of World Coins. He wondered if coin prices had risen since the book was published.

I replied that I could not guarantee that every coin has gone up in value, but I expected that many coins made of silver or gold have jumped in price by quite a bit because precious metals have gone up so much since that edition was published.

His reply was he didn’t think coin values were dictated by bullion prices.

I said that for scarce coins that is certainly true, but for the more common pieces, bullion was a major factor because silver has risen from around $5 an ounce to over $34 and gold has gone from $275 to almost $1,800.

Those bullion prices seemed to surprise him. I know I look at bullion prices every day and I cannot expect everyone to do the same, but this caller did not seem to realize how much of an increase has occurred in recent years.

He asked if these new prices are reflected in the latest edition. I said the prices in the book could not reflect daily fluctuations, but they would be based on the much higher bullion prices that prevailed when the book went to press.

How much does the current catalog cost, he inquired? I told him I wasn’t quite sure. There is a sale going on on He should check there.

He didn’t have Internet.

I volunteered to connect him to our customer service department.

Before the transfer, he did cite the amount of money he had paid for the catalog 14 years ago.

That figure he knew precisely.

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