Sunday, September 14, 2008

Paul Green's "evergreen" articles in Numismatic News

For the past few years, each time I visited my local newsstand on the corner I would reach for the latest issue of Numismatic News (NN). I would immediately look for any articles written by Paul Green. He was, by far, the best journalist that NN had writing for them.

I honestly don't recall reading an article of Paul Green's that I didn't like. Missing from his articles are those personal moments of what he had to eat for breakfast, how many cups of coffee that he had, and how many times that coffee made him go pee that day. Other authors writing for NN seem to think it important to share that type of information with us. I always wonder if they really think I'm interested in that part of their day before visiting some numismatic museum or if they are just padding the word count of the article in order to increase the amount of their paycheck from NN. Paul's articles never went to that level.

On one of those visits to the newsstand, I read about the death of Paul Green. I remember feeling sad that his articles would probably soon come to an end.

And that is what brings me to the crux of the problem.

Paul Green died over two years ago and yet most NN issues still have the main feature article and the Item of the Week column written by Paul Green. His articles are what are referred to as "evergreen" articles. In other words, they never go out of date. Articles written years ago are still valid today. NN appears to be cashing in on that fact by continuing to publish his past articles as though they were written recently (it is a weekly newspaper afterall).

I have to admit that this bothers me a little. Can't NN find any decent writers that can write fresh articles about coins while leaving out what they had for breakfast? When I read a Paul Green article about how a particular type coin is undervalued, he obviously was referring to a time at least a couple of years ago.

So is the coin still undervalued? NN must think so or they wouldn't publish the article again. But wait, if the article is "evergreen" and the coin is still undervalued, doesn't that actually make the coin fairly valued and not undervalued? Isn't that like a store saying that something is "on sale" when it has never sold the item at a higher price? (many of you know what store, that begins with a K, that I'm talking about)

But maybe I'm not being fair to NN since this situation reminds me of dealers that point to price increases of New Orleans double eagles in order to support their view that Philadelphia double eagles are undervalued. They seem to ignore the fact that there is a premium on New Orleans gold because there are collectors that specialize in coins from that mint. How many collectors specialize in Philadelphia mint coins? How many books have been written specifically about Philadelphia mint coins? Philadelphia double eagles are forever undervalued.

So maybe it is okay that NN is making their readers read old articles each week. Maybe everything there is to know about numismatics has already been published and there is nothing new to learn. Coins that were "undervalued" or "reasonably priced" when Paul Green was alive will forever be undervalued and reasonably priced.

In that case, I have an idea to save subscribers money.

Subscribe to NN for two years saving each weekly issue. Then cancel your subscription and begin reading each week the issue from two years earlier. If the articles are truly "evergreen," you won't be missing a thing, but now you can use the money saved to buy some of those undervalued coins mentioned two years ago, and be safe in the knowledge that they are still undervalued today. Afterall, it is an "evergreen" fact.