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Why don't I know this?

News stories don’t always end with directions on how to order something. That may seem like a a statement of the obvious. Perhaps not. In our daily lives infomercials tell us that we need to be healthy and fit, and by golly, they just happen to have a new drug or device that will help us reach those happy conditions.

When I write a story about a new coin from the U.S. Mint, I often, but not always, provide the Mint’s contact information. When a club issues a wooden nickel, I will tell readers the price and the order directions. An auction preview story will have contact information for the firm so readers can participate if they choose.

However, there are some stories where the object is not to sell something, but simply to inform.

I had a couple of phone calls this week from individuals who had read a story in the June 26 Numismatic News about 10 category winners in the Coin of the Year competition. These honors are conferred by World Coin News, a sister publication to Numismatic News, after voting by an international panel of hobby judges.

The coins under review are dated 2005.

The two phone callers wanted to know who they should call to buy the coins that won in the 10 categories.

For the first caller I helpfully suggested that he go online and see who might be offering them. He did not have Internet, so that was out. I told him he could contact coin dealers and see if they had them in stock. Who, he wondered? I invited him to contact advertisers, but that I did not know who might have all of them. The caller sounded disappointed, but that concluded the call.

The second caller was a little more insistent. I offered the same suggestions, but he was not satisfied.

“How do you know about these coins if you can’t tell me where I can buy them? he demanded.

I replied that world mints told me about them.

What? He didn’t understand my use of “world mints,” so I had to explain that the countries that won the honors for the most part have their own mints, which strike coins and collectors buy them at the time of issue. Because the time of issue for 2005 coins is long past, that was not an option.

“Your front page says you are ‘the complete information source for coin collectors.’ Why don’t you know where I can get these?”

He had me there. Why don’t I know where these coins are currently being offered?
Perhaps our advertisers are missing an opportunity.

The three U.S. coins are fairly easy. Our major advertisers carry them. The coin issues of Belarus, Israel, Germany, Australia and Austria are more difficult. They go off into the world dealer community and appear in their online ads, mail price lists and other avenues. The nature of the world field is more dispersed than the U.S. field. Without an online capability, you just might not find what you are looking for without taking some days or weeks to do some tracking.

In the old days, tracking coins was the fun part. In the 21st century, will it remain so?