Open Letter from Harlan J. Berk:
I have read your editorial in The Celator on page 2 and I find it disheartening that someone of your stature in our little community would take such a weak stand on such a potentially damaging program as the slabbing of ancient coins. And then at the end of your editorial taking the blasphemous position of wishing the slabbers "GOOD LUCK". It is unbelievable that you could do that especially when you normally put yourself in the posit ion of being impartial. All of the collectors and dealers I spoke to were incensed, upset, angry and disagreeable to the idea of slabbing ancient coins.
I am enclosing my article published in the last issue of World Coin News which I give you permission to print as I own the rights to all my articles. This wi ll explain why slabbing would have been a bad thing.
Wayne, if everyone took your position, slabbing would be a reality. My article and the reaction of many people who care about our field have caused the cancellation of the slabbing program. Now rather than it being a reality, it's only a bad dream.
Harlan J. Berk HARLAN J. BERK. LTD.
To those whom it may concern:
While it is flattering to be thought of as a person of "stature" in our fraternity, I fear that one voice does not cause the winds of change to subside. Rather, the voices of many cause ears to listen and minds to react. This is exactly what happened with the recent NGC proposal to slab ancient coins. Although I did not personally or professionally react an "incensed, upset, angry and disagreeable" party, I did quietly and clearly express my views to NGC, CNG and the numismatic fraternity. Because many of our readers did Ihe same, the decision of NGC to slab ancients has been reversed. This does not mean that NGC will never slab ancients, or that no one else will ever slab ancients, but for the time being, the issue has been laid to rest. Ken Krah, of NGC, told me personally that the decision not to proceed was made in response to literally "hundreds" of letters from concerned collectors. Indeed, we received many letters here, some of which are included in this issue. We simply did not have room to print them all.
I feel that NGC has acted responsibly and fairly in this regard and that they should be applauded for their sensitivity to the wishes of the collector fraternity.
Let there be no mistake about my position in this matter- I do not support the slabbing of ancient coins, will not utilize such a service myself if it ever becomes ava il able, and will not recommend such a service to those who might solicit my opinion. Neither, however, will I use the power of this press to interfere with the legitimate business practices or ambitions of others simply because I disagree with their philosophy. While I respect the right of Mr. Berk to challenge the NGC position, and of World Coin News to run the adversarial article mentioned in Mr. Berk's letter, I do not feel it is appropriate for reprinting in The Celator in light of NGC's announced decision to withdraw from this venture. The issue, after all, has been settled.
Finally, "If everyone took [my] position" in this issue there would never be a slab sold in this country - there simply wouldn't be any buyers!
Mr. Berk's letter really addresses an issue much broader than that of slabbing ancient coins, that is, the editorial philosophy of this publication. We have been chided in the past, by a few of our readers and a few dealers, for not taking a more vocal stand on certain issues, and for not sensationalizing certain market events. While we certainly have strong personal views on some of these issues, it has been our policy to consciously avoid confrontational issues because we prefer to emphasize and promote The Celator as an "entertaining and informative" publication. The type of "investigative" reporting and news feature reporting found in publications like World Coin News and Coin World is not our "cup of tea". We have neither the staff, nor the budget to support this type of reporter-intensive editorial content. Therefore, we are pleased to leave this type of news in the hands of those who can do it much better than we can. We do not apologize for this fact; we simply choose this route as an editorial policy.
On a happier note, the ANA Convention in Chicago promises to be a spectacular event and we are looking forward to spending several days there - hope to see some of you all the many activities. Thanks to the aspiring (and veteran) authors who have sent us manuscripts this past month, we have a very strong and exciting line-up for the rest of the summer. If you enjoy their work or have feed-back to offer, take a moment to share your point of view.