US Coins

Accurate stories help the hobby: Guest Commentary

When a wire service story a decade ago mistakenly indicated ALL 1943 cents were worth tens of thousands of dollars, coin dealers nationwide were inundated with people hoping their 1943 cents had immense value. One dealer had to ask,“Lady, how can they be rare? You’ve got a whole roll!” when a woman brought in a roll of the circulated cents and demanded $30,000 per coin.

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Guest Commentary from July 11, 2016 issue of Coin World:

Thank you to Coin World Managing Editor William T. Gibbs for taking the time to work with mainstream general and personal finance news media to answer their questions for upcoming stories. 

After working in newsrooms for 30 years, I know editors and reporters are sometimes under great time restraints to meet deadlines, but it is often crucially important that “outside” news media get accurate, expert information. I sincerely appreciate when Bill and other numismatic experts take the time to help nonhobby media.

As noted in his editorial in the June 27, 2016, edition of Coin World, “coverage of coins in the general media can be beneficial and harmful to the hobby,” with an example of the “harmful” being inaccurate reporting about the value of common, zinc-coated 1943 “steel” cents. 

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I was personally involved, along with prominent hobby experts Ed Reiter and Scott Travers, in trying to correct a wire service story a decade ago that mistakenly indicated ALL 1943 cents were worth tens of thousands of dollars. The reporter who wrote the story refused to issue a correction, and the wire service’s national desk did nothing for days after I contacted an editor there. 

In the meantime, coin dealers nationwide were being inundated with people claiming to have valuable 1943 cents. One dealer told me a woman brought in a roll of circulated steel cents and screamed that the dealer was trying to cheat her by not meeting her demand for $30,000 per coin. In frustration, the dealer told her: “Lady, how can they be rare? You’ve got a whole roll!”

Ed, Scott and I finally got a corrected story from the wire service after I did an end run by contacting a friend who was then editor of the trade publication Editor & Publisher. Within a day after an E&P reporter called, the wire service issued an updated story. 

However, it was only issued regionally, while the original incorrect story was distributed nationwide.

Thank you, Bill, and all other numismatic writers and editors for your efforts to prevent these kinds of erroneous stories from occurring.

Donn Pearlman is a retired newsman, formerly with CBS Radio News in Chicago. Now from Las Vegas, he has been a publicist for the numismatic community for years.

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