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What’s a coin worth?

January 19, 2012 – What’s the duty of a journalist? It’s information, but we feel that another major task is making readers think about our world and its self-evidences. To reach this aim, journalism has many possibilities. One of them is a slight form of deliberate provocation. Painting black and white in order to get colorful answers. We thought it’s not self-evident that an ancient Greek coin is worth $ 3.25 million...

Therefore we wrote the following editorial and sent it to our subscribers on January 12, 2012.

Recently, I held one million euro in my hands and I realized that this is just a pile of paper. No romantic dreams about how to spend that money did pop up. And finally, what would change in my life owning a million euro? I will still be able to eat only three times a day and to sleep in just one bed.
I guess I have plenty of company. For example the person who recently spent 3.25 million dollars for the most expensive Greek coin ever sold. He or she has too much money that much, that 3.25 million dollars simply don’t matter.
I confess this amount is so big that it makes me think. What will be the true value of our money, if somebody spends such a sum for a few grams of old gold? If he invested sensibly this money in our economic life instead of buying a hoarding object, he could have given an economic future to many employees.
Speaking of investing I really don’t think of a stock speculation in order to make a high profit. Stock corporations were created to finance enterprises, which required more money a single family could raise. The stock market dominated by speculators is a travesty of the original concept. And 3.25 million dollars are the travesty of a price for an ancient coin. No real collector would pay as much. He would know that there is simply no ancient coin in the world, which is worth as much money.

And here is, what some of our readers thought...

Value is in the eye of the beholder. Why should anyone care what someone else spends on anything? Unless they are a public official or entity of course.
Jeff Scanlon

I find it quite exciting that an ancient coin has sold for 3.25 million dollars. The buyer has purchased a wonderful coin and the seller will receive an impressive amount. The coin auction firm will receive a nice commission, which will enable them to continue to conduct future sales, thus providing money to printers, photographers, computer technicians, hotel employees and a large number of others who provided various services involved in the process of selling this, and other coins that were in the sale. And the seller will now, if he or she chooses, be able to use part or all of the sale proceeds to invest “sensibly this money in our economic life instead of buying a hoarding object…” Or perhaps he will buy another valuable coin and thus transfer that opportunity to someone else. Or he may bury the cash in his back yard and do nothing with it. Freedom and free markets: are not these the essence of what makes coin collecting fun, indeed that which makes coin collecting possible?
George Kolbe

Your comments are excellent!
Thank you,
Tom Jurewicz

I agree with you tendentially. But we should consider the fact that the 3.25 million are not gone, but have a new owner. Let’s console ourselves with the hope that he will handle the money responsibly.
Werner Beck

As usual, you have good insight. I have always wondered at people who have 6 huge homes, their main home one that needs a map to get around – and also at their many other possessions, as no one truly needs all that stuff. ...
Money does not have to change one's life. Some, winning the lottery, go though it like water. Most, however, who get money late in life have little trouble with it as they are set in their ways, content to live pretty much as they have, with perhaps better furniture and a new car. Many of those who have always had it do not appreciate it at all, and some who earn it seem to get carried away by what it will buy. Some seem to get to the point where earning money is the only happiness they have, others worry about what to do with such a largess, and some literally give it away as they get it!!
The only thing that money brings, really, is the lack of the want of money. It certainly does not bring happiness. But with money in hand a large burden has been removed – and for a while it makes sense to enjoy it a little bit, but if the person is really one that is responsible, and cares about others, they will share.
You are also correct on the buyers with money. If they want an item they will pay for it, and it means very little to them how much. I enjoy working with collectors who have less, their joy at obtaining a nice item shows no bounds, and makes me thus happy as well. But, the rich buyer sure helps to keep the doors open, and many of those are very nice people.
Which brings me to the 3.5 million dollar Greek coin. No, it is not “worth” that much, but apparently there are people who have that sort of money and will buy.
It is what they do with it – the money, the Greek coin, etc, ultimately that makes the difference.
America is rife with greed, has been for many years. One of the earliest examples I can think of occurred when holders of a stock in a electronic firm, one that made television sets, insisted that they get a dividend, or the CEO had to go. They had received no dividend for a few years, as the company was trying to perfect an invention – the VCR – and was putting any extra money into research and development. They were unhappy from the start, but after a few years were getting mad – the CEO had a choice, resign or get the money to the stock holders. He decided on the latter, and kept his job.
He did so by selling all the development rights to the VCR to a Japanese firm. The Japanese firm could not get it to work for a number of years, but finally did. Their stockholders showed a patience that we do not display here, and ultimately the firm, Sony, put the VCR on the market and made a killing. Their stockholders were repaid many times for their patience. In the meantime, a large number of workers had jobs working on the VCR, and putting that money into the Japanese economy. The stockholders got well later.
We see this greed every day. It is a shame, and unless the attitude of many in this country change, our children will have less, not more.
Share what you have, and it comes back to you.
Bill McKivor

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