Every now and then, something happens in the daily life of this coin dealer that really makes me stop. Late yesterday afternoon I got a call from a young lass that had inherited some coins from her father and wanted to know if I could appraise them for her.
No problems I say, make sure you're here before 5pm and you'll get an honest appraisal free of charge and without obligation. Now it turned out that Daddy dearest was more of an accumulator than a collector - we're talking small plastic bags with heavily circulated pennies from the 1920's right though to the 1960's, a few florins from the same period, as well as some English copper - basically pretty standard fare that people have in their cupboards right around the country.
Although the gentleman concerned had obviously done some cursory research into the value of old Aussie coins, he hadn't learned the distinction between proof, Uncirculated or worn flat, so his little plastic bags had pieces of paper stapled to them with comments such as "Proof 1934 Penny - $30,000" etc etc.
Now it isn't entirely unheard of for people to do this, and this isn't what made me laugh or do a double take. It was when I got to the bag that included the 1925 penny that I had to pause for a moment. Not only did it have the details written on the outside of the bag, but the proud owner of the 1925 penny had actually written the proof value ON THE COIN IN PERMANENT MARKER! He obviously didn't want his descendants to miss the fact that this truly was a scarce coin, but did he really have to go that far?
Fortunately the coin was "only" graded about VF condition, so it was worth "only" $200 - $300 retail, and the damage wasn't significant. The lass also though it was pretty funny, and we ended up getting the writing off with a bit of acetone and a cotton bud.
All's well that ends well - she now has a clear idea of what her accumulation is worth and has a half decent 1925 penny that is now at least marketable. So for God's sake, if you do need to leave instructions to your descendants about how much your collection is worth or what to do with it in the event of your untimely demise, do yourself a favour and don't write on the actual coins!
Man, I've never come across that before, I should've taken a picture!