• seperator

Word can be like fingernails on blackboard

Don’t you just love the radio commercials that have the rapidly spoken disclaimers at the end?

I thought of that after I posted my blog Nov. 10. It announced the Mint was having a clearance sale Nov. 15 at which the most important things to go would be many of the collector versions of the American Eagle gold and platinum coins and the Buffalo gold coins.

I put a headline on it, “Mint cuts bullion products drastically.”

That elicited a call from the Mint. Could I modify the language in the newspaper story? It might be confusing otherwise.

The point the Mint was trying to make was that it considers its bullion products to be the noncollector versions of the American Eagle and Buffalo coins that are sold to its network of official authorized purchasers. The coins sold to collectors instead are numismatic coins made of precious metals in the Mint’s preferred parlance.

In the body of my blog I called them “collector versions of bullion coin products.”

But it is the word “bullion” itself that sets the Mint on edge. Mint staff get calls from people who fail to grasp the distinctions of finish and mintmarks. To them, any bullion item is just that, something sold exclusively for the metal content, an understanding that is not altered if you place the words “collector version” in front of it.

I understand that dilemma. I get similar calls myself, though I imagine the number the Mint receives are thousands of times more frequent.

I am not trying to get under the Mint’s skin. I am trying to make clear to my readers in as few words as possible just what it is that I am writing about. The intention is to get their attention so they will read the story.

There has been much online chatter about these coins. I wanted to be sure all interested hobbyists took note of the new information I had.

Putting “numismatic” in a headline is just about guaranteed to make it less useful for a Google search and to many readers it sounds pompous, or seems to be an example where I am trying to prove I am smarter than you are because I can use a long word.

That’s certainly not my point. If I want to get under anybody’s skin, I can be more direct about it. I had a former publisher with that talent.

When he first saw the Professional Numismatists Guild acronym, PNG, he said, “Ping.” Everybody else in the room shuddered simultaneously when he said it and now retired ad manager Joel Edler jumped in to correct him with “P-N-G,” so he could sound like a hobby pro.

Well, the publisher would then deliberately say “Ping” to get under all of our skins and to prove he was the boss and he did not have to change at the suggestion of mere staff.

I don’t want to confuse my readers nor do I want it to seem that I am deliberately trying to get on the nerves of people at the Mint. That doesn’t do anybody any good.

So I will just pledge to be as clear as I can be so I don’t need long disclaimers to explain what it is that I meant.

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