Monday, November 13, 2006


Spending the collection

On yesterday's "Weekend Edition", NPR tells us of a voter who chose the wrong stamp:

A Florida voter who wanted to make sure he had plenty of postage on his absentee ballot may have gone overboard. A rare 1918 stamp worth hundreds of thousands of dollars was used to mail the ballot. Host Andrea Seabrook talks to the man who discovered the valuable piece of postage.
An irony in this story is that the voter neglected to identify him/her/itself, and so the ballot was disqualified... they can't even return the stamp (though it's worth much less now that it's been cancelled).

This makes me think of something my father did, though in the other direction. After John F. Kennedy's assassination, a half-dollar coin was issued with JFK's likeness. My father, thinking that the coins would be worth something someday, saved every one he could get his hands on for a while. Alas, most of the ones he saved were not from the 1964 issue, when they were almost completely silver, but from the 1965 and later issues, when the US had stopped making silver coins. They still put some silver in them for a while, but he also collected a good many from the 1970s, when there was no silver in them at all.

He got the coins through normal circulation, so their condition wasn't good enough to make them valuable as collectors' items anyway. The silver ones were, indeed, eventually worth something, mostly for their silver content. The silver-clad alloy coins and the subsequent copper/nickel coins were minted in multitudes, and in circulated condition were never worth more than about 50 cents.

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