Dennis Tucker submitted these thoughts on coin collecting and book collecting. Thanks!
I was reading Allen Ahearn's "Book Collecting: A Comprehensive Guide" (G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1989) tonight. He makes a comparison between coin collecting and book collecting, and the market forces and factors in each discipline.
"The prices in this book are intended only as guides. Most dealers in collectible books do not handle rare books per se; they handle scarce books. However, very fine copies of scarce books are rare. These fine copies command high prices from knowledgeable collectors and libraries because these buyers realize the true relative scarcity of such material. I am certainly not particularly knowledgeable about other collecting fields such as coins or stamps, but my impression is that if an individual wanted five very fine examples of a certain 'rare' coin or stamp and was willing to pay the going (not an inflated) price, they could be found within a few weeks. On the other hand, if an individual wanted to buy five very fine copies of a certain edition of a particular title, it might take a few years. And this is not just for books costing thousands of dollars; it's true of books that sell for only a few hundred dollars (or less)."
Ahearn's analysis of the rare-coin market, and also of the rare-book market, was modified a bit when the 1995 edition of his book was published. "Very fine copies of scarce books are rare" was softened to "very fine copies of scarce books border on being rare," and all discussion of particular "very fine" rare coins being hunted down five at a time over a matter of weeks, as if they were Thomas Kinkade prints or limited-edition Beanie Babies, was completely gone.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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