Designs on Britannia
Volume 58, Number 5, May 2021
Pleasing everybody THIS month’s lead story in “News & Views” is the record-breaking auction held by Heritage in Dallas, Texas, where simply eyewatering prices were fetched for just about every lot—including some stunning British coins. There is simply no way we can ignore the auction and the story as it’s huge and, quite rightly, is our main news piece (I won’t spoil it here—take a look at page 12). But, of course, it isn’t exactly relevant to most of our readers, is it? Most of the readers I know are like me, fortunate enough to have a little bit of disposable income with which to indulge their hobby, happy to pay good money for the right coins, but not exactly in Bill Gates territory and very unlikely to buy coins that sell for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pounds, so stories about coins fetching stratospheric prices at auction aren’t necessarily going to be of much interest. Indeed I had one letter only recently where the writer made the specific point of telling me how irrelevant such stories were to him and his collecting. He’s right of course, the story of huge prices is indeed something that few of us can relate to and I sympathise with his ire, but here’s the thing: it’s news, whether we like it or not. We simply can’t ignore record-breaking sales (oops, bit of a spoiler there, sorry) when they happen and, let’s be honest about it, few of us want to read about ordinary prices being paid for ordinary coins. Now, there are some readers who genuinely do want to read about sky-high prices, who want to hear about the unique coins they know they’ll never own; I’ve written about that before and call it the Top Gear effect—where that highly successful TV show spends a lot of its time testing the kind of supercars that 99 per cent of its audience was never going to get a chance to drive, let alone have in their garage. Many people, for whatever reason, do like to read about high value items and records set, but I also realise that some don’t; unfortunately there really is little I can do when the records keep tumbling—we really can’t ignore them even when they are far removed from our reality! Unfortunately, pleasing all of the people all of the time is impossible in the coin world, it’s just too diverse and for every article on Anglo-Saxon pennies or Celtic staters there will be a new issue collector feeling aggrieved, and for every mention of a Dinosauria 50p there will be a collector of Maundy sets holding his head in despair—it’s just the nature of the hobby. I remember once a gentleman at the London Coin Fair who told me he didn’t read COIN NEWS that often because it never contained any articles on his, very specialist, area of numismatics. When I told him that was because no-one had ever written one, he said “no, they wouldn’t have, because I think I’m the only one who specialises in it”. When I asked him, as that was the case, if he’d perhaps like to write for us, his response was “no, as I don’t want people to start collecting what I do”! That said, we do try our absolute best to appeal to as broad a spectrum of collectors as possible—and not just with our articles either, although sadly one of our recent attempts to “please everybody” seems to gone somewhat awry. With one eye on the environment and another on practicality, we have for some time been trying to find an alternative to the plastic packaging used for subscribers’ magazines. We wanted something recyclable or compostable but needed it to be completely opaque for security reasons. The “potato starch” packaging that is becoming popular at the moment isn’t suitable because you can see the magazine inside, which is no good for security-conscious COIN NEWS readers. So we opted for paper. It hasn’t, so far, been a great success, with some magazines arriving damaged or with the wraps open where they’ve not been glued properly. We may, therefore, have to go back to plastic temporarily whilst we source alternatives. We know that won’t be to everyone’s liking, but we will get there I assure you. We are absolutely determined to make sure this is one area where we do please everybody all of the time! In the meantime we’ll carry on with our treeplanting efforts—over 100 so far. Check out our Facebook page for more details of that!
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