There has always been a battle for the minds of collectors.
On the one hand is the allure of the bourse floor.
It is the place collectors go shopping to buy coins for their own collections.
Acquiring coins is the heart and soul of collecting.
To be as good at this as a hobbyist can be requires education.
Education takes time. When this education is competing for attention on a bourse floor, which wins?
This tug-of-war for collector eyeballs will play out starting tomorrow at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Philadelphia.
The United States Mint will have a display of three 1933 $20 gold pieces.
The only legal one in collector hands realized $7.59 million in a 2002 New York auction.
Would this piece bring $15 million if it were sold today? $20 million?
A high price helps collectors decide what might be worth looking at.
But it is not the only thing to affect collector judgment.
Two of the 1933 gold $20s that will be on display are from the Langbord hoard of 10.
This is the family of Israel Switt, a Philadelphia jeweler who left them in a safe deposit box for his family.
The government seized them when they were sent to the Mint for authentication.
A protracted legal battle in an effort by the family to get the coins back ended in a government win.
These two coins have been seen in public before.
They were part of a 10-piece display at the Mint’s booth in 2008 at the Denver ANA convention.
The third 1933 coin is the most interesting this year.
It was turned in to the government by an anonymous person.
In the Mint press release wording, the rare gold piece “was voluntarily and unconditionally given over to the government by a private citizen who requested to remain anonymous.”
Do you think this anonymous person had possession of the coin for very long?
Was he or she watching the 11-year legal battle over the Langbord coins?
In my mind, the answer is yes on both counts, but we won’t ever know for sure.
What we also won’t know until the end of this week is whether this story of the rare 1933 gold coins is compelling enough to attract collectors away from their want lists and bourse floor shopping.
The battle for collector attention goes on.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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