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Worth its weight in aluminum

Everybody has strange days at work. Yesterday just kept on happening in that vein for me all day long.

The blog I wrote as the day began will not win any Pulitzer Prizes. This one won’t either.

As you might guess, this topic springs from a telephone call I received yesterday. It was one of many, but it is the ultimate illustration of strange.

The caller told me he had just learned of the death of Alan Herbert, longtime author of the "Coin Clinic" question and answer column. He seemed to be concerned, but he quickly veered into the topic of a 1974 aluminum cent that Alan had written about in 2005.

Naturally, I expected that he had further information or had been in the middle of some sort of correspondence with Alan when he had passed on.

The caller wanted to know when Alan died. I told him it was in January.

But then he veered off the road I thought we were on and he told me in a manner to establish his bona fides that he was the owner of many of the major rarities of the past, the 1804 dollar, the 1913 nickel, the 1943 bronze cent. He said he owned all but the 1933 $20 gold piece.

The thought flashed through my mind that they were all made in China, but I held my tongue.

Then the conversation veered back to Alan. The caller wanted to know what he died of, because it was a documented fact that everybody who has ever handled a 1974 aluminum cent has died of cancer.

At that point I giggled.

I couldn’t help myself.

Alan was 86 years old (I said to the caller he was 83, because that was the number that had come to mind.) I was trying to make the case that it was simply Alan’s time.

The caller paused and then tried to make his cancer point again.

I giggled again.

I guess I figured both this call and the day were lost causes.

My reaction agitated the caller a bit and he quickly ended the call.

Fortunately for me every day has an end point, and a new one comes along.

I am looking forward to a much better day today.

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