Ever watch one of those television commercials for a new wonder drug?
Everyone is happily doing something that would not be possible without being treated with it.
We are presented with a well known problem. We are given a solution. We see a happy ending.
Then the rapidly speaking announcer cuts in with a list of side effects.
Have we reached a point in numismatics where everything we do or say needs to be qualified with our own list of disclaimers?
I ask that question as a result of a letter I received from a reader regarding a question and answer that appeared in the weekly Coin Clinic column.
The question was “What is the difference between a commercial uncirculated coin and a slider?”
The answer as published was, “Each of these two terms is in the eye of the beholder, but for practical purposes they are the same thing. A commercial uncirculated coin is a coin a dealer believes he can sell as a Brilliant Uncirculated, but he anticipates a third-party grading service would not grade it as high.”
Then the letter arrives.
“I am saddened and disillusioned by the answer ... A reader requesting the difference between commercial uncirculated and slider was given an unsatisfactory answer.”
Really? I wondered.
The letter writer says,“What should have been explained, clearly and in depth, is that a slider is a coin that an unscrupulous greedy dealer, knowing the coin will not pass muster as an uncirculated coin by third-party grading services, prices and sells to a trusting collector as an uncirculated coin, rather than identifying and pricing it as an about uncirculated item, a flagrant violation of the American Numismatic Association Code of Ethics.”
“I firmly believe an addendum to the previous answer should appear in the next Coin Clinic.”
Coin Clinic is supposed to be a collection of short, punchy and educational tidbits that collectors enjoy reading.
Do we need to turn them into lengthy warnings and lectures?
I expect we would lose most readers if we did.
There are many things in numismatics that can be used legitimately or misused, or simply mistakenly used.
When I wrote my blog yesterday about a my high school chemistry teacher once passing a cent as a dime after silver plating it, should I have lectured readers about dishonesty and the fact that doing this was a violation of the law?
I expect readers know that passing a cent as a dime is illegal just as they know that a coin that looks like a higher grade but is not really can be misused without hitting them over the head with a lengthy lecture about it.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."