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Time: ally or enemy?

As long as I collect coins, two things are guaranteed:

I will make money on some of my coin purchases.

I will lose money on some of my coin purchases.

There is no secret formula to achieve a 100 percent success rate, or even anything close to it.

This being true, it scarces me when we receive calls here from people who have suddenly decided that some aspect of numismatics is the royal road to riches.

Colleague Lisa Bellavin took a phone call yesterday from a fellow who was excited about gold coins. He was a newcomer to the field, he said.

He wasn’t the usual excited new gold bullion buyer because he admitted that bullion prices can go up and down.

On the other hand, he said that gold collector coins always go up.

I heard Lisa explaining that markets can run hot and cold. Collector coins, gold or any other kind, don’t always go up in value.

I don’t know if the caller got the message that he should re-evaluate his expectations.

I have been a collector for 50 years. Fortunately for me, whenever I got wound up about some can’t miss opportunity, other factors of life helped me limit the financial damage.

A long time horizon helps. The 21st century surge in the prices of gold and silver bailed me out of a few stupid purchases from years ago.

I don’t recall ever consciously deciding that I was a collector for life. It just was.

I expect if you could ask my younger self about it during my first few years in the hobby, I probably would have replied something like, “Why wouldn’t I collect for life?”

It simply never occurred to me that I might stop.

Time has been a great ally, though I probably would not have realized that this is the case in those early years, either.

I liked buying the hot items of the day just as much as anyone.

My fingers got burned. I was disappointed.

I survived.

Unfortunately, the time horizon of the caller is likely to be too short. His sense of urgency is his greatest enemy.

Gold collector coins might have a wonderful payback in 10, 20, or even 50 years, but the caller is probably thinking 10, 20 or 50 weeks.

Anything, including losses, can happen in such a short period of time.

Will he stick around if he burns his fingers on his can't miss gold collector coins?

I hope so, but I don't really believe it.

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