• seperator

Should we outlaw parking lots, too?

parking lotPharmacies sell drugs. Some guy in a hoodie on a darkened urban street corner also sells drugs.

Are they the same thing?

Most people will quite correctly see the difference and act accordingly.

We have coin dealers who sell coins and we have high-pressure boiler room telephone sales operations that also sell coins.

Are they the same thing?

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Of course not, but for some reason every time coins make headlines for any length of time, we get the same upwelling of stories about what I will call Wild West numismatics and demands that something be done about it. The fact that this has little or nothing to do with numismatics always seems to get lost.

I saw an online story about a guy in Nebraska who met someone in a bar and made an appointment to buy some gold bullion coins by putting $27,000 in a paper bag and meeting the supposed seller in a parking lot.

The guy in the parking lot didn’t even have coins. He simply grabbed the paper bag and ran.

The guy who was robbed of his $27,000 was past Medicare age. As I recall, he was 68. Does he fill his prescriptions in parking lots, too?

What makes otherwise sane and sensible people do such incredibly strange things? Perhaps my presumption of sanity is faulty.

Do we need signs on all the parking lots of America prohibiting the buying and selling of coins there? That seems like a stupid question to ask unless you think about where you see the words, “This is not a step” on a step ladder.

It has been my experience that whenever I tell people in social settings what I do, their eyes glaze over and they can’t wait to change the subject. Coins generally are very off-putting. If I want to string them along a while I will say that I write for a living and not mention coins until it is absolutely necessary.

Perhaps I move in the wrong circles. Where do the guys hang out who want to put $27,000 in cash in a paper bag? They certainly do not subscribe to Numismatic News, or get any other information that would put them into contact with the many active participants in the coin industry. Getting people to pony up the price of a subscription sometimes is very difficult and you don’t even need one Benjamin, or even a Ulysses to get a year’s worth of issues.

That’s the real world of numismatics that you and I inhabit. It is populated by real collectors who are very conscious of every dollar they spend and look for the most value for their money.

They can be found on a Sunday afternoon in a local VFW Hall coin show. They meet monthly in church basements. They form lasting attachments and lasting loyalties.

But mostly the coin collectors I know are smart enough not to put $27,000 in a paper bag and show up in a parking lot when the guy on the next stool says, “Hey, buddy, want to buy some gold coins?

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