This week we continue the discussion prompted by Ron Abler's age-old question for numismatic authors: should my book include prices?
Howard A. Daniel III writes:
I cannot remember who taught me the difference between a "price" and a "value", but it might have been Fred Schwan of BNR Press when he published my second catalog in 1978. Now, I use Est.(Estimated) Value because I got tired of trying to explain it to the Vietnamese reading my catalogs here in Viet Nam. After I added "Estimated," the questions stopped and they got it.
Last week Fred Schwan noted: "Ken Bressett taught me that the dollar amounts listed in books are best called values rather than prices. Prices are for items that are actually for sale." His key point: "You do not need values in numismatic books unless you want them to sell."
David Lange writes:
On the subject of including values in catalogs, I had to wrestle with the same question for my coin board book. I ultimately concluded that buyers of the book would feel cheated without pricing information, so I created a table based on a combination of actual sales and mere projections.
Since the book's publication I've tracked every board transaction known to me, and it has become apparent that most coin boards simply don't exist in grades above Very Fine, though I've been valuing them in Near Mint as well. For my 2011 value guide I will most likely omit values for grades that haven't actually surfaced, replacing them with just lines. It seems that this has been the practice for popular coin guides in recent decades, and it's certainly more accurate than purely speculative figures.
Ron Abler wrote to Fred Schwan:
I am writing a book on the Centennial medals of 1876, and I have been resisting the apparent requirement to include what people refer to as a price list. The consensus appears to be that the only thing worse than a price list in the book is no price list in the book. You put it very succinctly, and I plan to quote you (credit given, of course) when I include values (vice prices) and tell my readers your story about the two dealers. Thank you for your permission to do so.
The die is cast. I will include a value guide in my book, but I will pepper it with caveats, including the quotes from Fred. I have asked for a lot of advice on my book, and I have been given a lot. I have followed a lot, but none with the misgivings that accompany a price list. Fred, though, has given me my spoonful of sugar.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
TO PRICE OR NOT TO PRICE? HERE ARE SOME ANSWERS
Wayne Homren, Editor
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