Member Journal Entry:

A timely follow up to entry on Obscured Set and security

Posted: 2/12/2012 9:17:45 AM | Views:822

Home security and the security of our collections is a serious issue

In reading about a good reason to obscure sets, security, I came to think that talking about security for ourselves and our collections is a topic that is worthy of periodic exploration.

One topic: INSURANCE. Whether it is theft or disaster (fire, hurricane a la Katrina style), having adequate insurance for your collection is important. I know another member who recently posted a question about insurance for coin collections specifically, so it too seems topical right now. While there may be others, I it's worth checking out the AXA Art Insurance coverage available as a member of the ANA (American Numismatic Association), through the Hugh Wood Agency. ANA membership is required since it's an "association" policy, but it tends to be less expensive than through most major homeowners insurance carriers. Which brings me to say that it's worth mentioning that it IS worth checking with your homeowners insurance carrier, just in case. The unfortunate reality, however, is that it with a majority of carriers, it is cost prohibitive because in their own words, they "just don't specialize in it."

Which brings me to Topic Two: INVENTORY
While your insurance carrier may not require an inventory of your collection to issue a policy, in the event of a loss, an inventory will be necessary to document your collection. You'll also want to check with your carrier about any necessary receipts and/or photographs of your collection, if required at all. As a rule though, receipts are never bad to keep, even if you scan/digitize them and same them on CD, back up hard drive, in a safe or safe deposit box, etc.

So, I'll talk about how my method of inventory started over the years, and how it's beginning to evolve, and perhaps you can learn from some of my missteps, skip them, and perhaps develop your own "best practice."

At first, I tried a simple Excel spreadsheet, but it seemed challenging to maintain as things grew. So, I developed my own Microsoft Access database, with a sort of "GUI" look (Graphic User Interface) that was very specific to coin collection, so that data entry was VERY SIMPLE. While there were drop down boxes, once you knew what was in the drop down boxes, you simply started typing the first letter (maybe two) and could hit enter to fill the fields. The good part was that in database form, with pre-formatted data entry fields, the database made it easy to capture standard or customized reports, and was also easily downloaded into an Excel spreadsheet.

The biggest downside to having the data in Excel or Access is simply that the estimated value for the included coins does not get updated unless done so manually. Frankly, since starting my database quite a number of years ago, I've not updated the values once. Gold and silver were each a fraction the cost of what they are now. In fairness, in the event of a loss, it's the inventory that is most important. Values can be determined if and when you have a loss. However, this brings me to the next incarnations of my inventory.

I got a new computer this year, loaded with Windows 7 and all. Well, of course my old version of Access is not compatible with Windows 7 (even if I could find the CD after all these years). So, I needed Access 2010. I haven't opened and loaded it yet because according to the package, the 90-days of support begin from REGISTRATION, not from purchase date. You see, between the time I purchased it and decided to start updating my inventory, I discovered that NGC had updated it's Collection Manager to allow users to include:

1. Slabbed coins from any TPG company, in addition to NGC, NCS, and PCGS (while the others are not accepted competitively).
2. Raw/uncertified coins.

Even better, when entering the coin in the Collection Manager, there are boxes to include purchase date, purchase price, estimated value, etc. Further, for a majority anyway, thought not all, U.S. coins graded by NGC or PCGS, NGC also supplies values from a reliable source, and the values are updated regularly. More importantly, you can pull reports from the Collection Manager in a variety of formats, including Excel. While it may take a bit of effort and some "cleaning up" it's a substantial tool that should not be overlooked.

Depending on the composition of your collection, U.S. vs. foreign coins for example, or a mixture of the two, the updated values part will obviously be of differing use to you. However, you're still free to load estimated values when you add even your foreign graded coins, and even if they aren't updated regularly, my original point that in the event of a loss, it is the INVENTORY ITSELF that is most important. Values can be determined when and IF necessary.

In all honesty, while I think NGC's collection manager and its reports have some fine tuning yet to be done, and this is strictly personal opinion here, but I think that using the online Collection Manager is superior to my self-created Access database or any Excel spreadsheet on its own for the following reasons:

1. For at least some, if not all of your coins, depending on the make-up of your collection, reliable values will be updated regularly.

2. Reports can be extracted from the Collection Manager, in a variety of methods, in a variety of formats to suit your needs and preference. A word of warning: Pulling your ENTIRE collection to an Excel download MIGHT take quite a while, depending on its size. I know I don't have the largest collection among us, and mine took somewhere between 50 minutes and an hour, give or take.

3. By using the collection manager, in the event of a fire, or some major devastation wherever you live (say on the scale of Katrina in New Orleans), when you were ready to file a claim for your loss, your inventory would be accessible from any computer anywhere in the world. You needn't worry that even your bank and its safe deposit boxes are under water, or that your computer AND the back-up hard drive or CD was burned in a fire. I do still suggest occasionally downloading the information from the Collection Manager - color me cautious.

So, this entry has already gotten VERY LONG, and I've only covered two topics, INSURANCE and its companion INVENTORY.

I guess in my next entry, I'll move on to topics involving home security.

I'll leave you with an image of a coin that is often snubbed, by the public and even by many collections, and at the very least under-appreciated; that is, the Susan B. Anthony Dollar. My only wish i that I'd received an MS68 on my submission after seeing that the difference in grade made the MS68 coin fetch a price worth about FIVE TIME what mine is worth based on a Teletrade Auction.

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