A Donkey Tale

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A Donkey Tale


For a VAMmer, the elation of having a Leroy Van Allen coin in one’s collection is analogous to the rapture of a 13-year-old girl in 1964 with front row seats to the first Beatles concert in the U.S. Yes, Leroy is that much of a superstar. Now, we all know this, but Leroy does not. And we know that Leroy does not. And this only serves to boost his rock star status.

Accordingly, if a coin were interesting enough that Leroy McCartney wanted to keep it around for a few decades, it must be something special. When I got wind of the sale, like everyone else, I knew I had to have at least one Leroy coin. I focused my goal to acquiring a well-known VAM in a PCGS holder with the pedigree label, if the price suited. Something from Penny Lane would have been great, but I decided I would go overboard to get a Morgan or Peace dollar.

Lo and behold in my search of the Leroy listings, I saw Her Standing There. A PCGS 45 Donkey Tail. There were many others that looked appealing, but this coin seemed to be the one to fit my criteria to perfection. Got To Get You Into My Life, Donkey Tail 45! My quarry was in the crosshairs.
But this quarry would not submit easily. It would cost many pretty pennies for this pretty dollar. Help! So, for 8 Days a Week I sold off a couple dozen nice VAMs to have the funds to put in an obscene bid or two. No, Money Can’t Buy Me Love, but it darn well can get me a silver dollar.

My grandmother used to advise me that the keys to life are “know thyself” and “nothing in excess.” I know myself. I can get over analytical at auction time. I count dollars and cents, examine population reports and price guides, and sometimes suffer the inevitable paralysis by analysis. This time I wanted to be in a state where I would be courageous or foolish enough to overbid an item or two so that I didn’t regret not doing so When I’m Sixty Four.

Anticipating my flaws, I downed a beer an hour before auction time and started typing in my snipes. If I won, great! If I lost, Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, Life Goes On. And, no, I don’t endorse the beer strategy. It’s a good thing I didn’t mistype anything. I might have spent hundreds of dollars on a used Raggedy Ann dress-up set or Beta-Max copy of Jaws II. Or something worse...(don't do it!)

The auction ended and I was pleased to win the Donkey Tail. With a Little Help from My Friends, I had learned about the Hot Lips specimen that Leroy had cherrypicked that subsequently launched his VAM career. Therefore, upon receipt of the Donkey Tail, I sent Leroy an email asking if he had any stories to tell about her. He replied that he would send me a pedigree letter.

A few days later I opened the letter, and my jaw dropped to learn that this Donkey Tail was not only the plate coin from the Comprehensive Encyclopedia, it was the discovery coin that Leroy had purchased from A. George Mallis as part of his reference set. Talk about Twist and Shout! This could not be real.

I checked some references, emailed some photos to some experts, calmed down, and realized that this was not a dream, nor a practical joke. So, how in the world was this information not included in the coin’s listing? We all know the answer. Ringo Van Allen does not realize he’s a celebrity. Perhaps A. George Harrison didn’t either. Either way, it was Christmas morning in April and I was for an instant the luckiest coin collector in the nation.

Many readers likely see this story as smug, self-indulgent babbling. I apologize. I got lucky. Really lucky, and this could have happened to anyone. It’s all about the coin and sharing a fun VAM story. Moreover, while I Feel Fine, I promise that I could care less what the coin is worth.

That said, at least one reader, the underbidder, may in fact be right ticked off. Do You Want to Know a Secret? You did not lose this coin by one bid, not by a long shot. It was a strong beer.

P.S. I Love You
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