The Numismatic Consumer Alliance, Inc. (NCA), as part of its mission to educate consumers about collectible coins, is offering to finance free memberships in the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) for up to 100 young people interested in writing about the hobby.
In each case, NCA will pay the $25 membership application fee plus first-year dues of $15, and recipients will be eligible to apply for renewal of the dues payment annually up to the age of 25.
The NLG, now in its 45th year, is the world’s largest organization of writers, editors, curators and other professionals who publicize and promote numismatics, with several hundred members around the globe. It conducts a number of programs aimed at encouraging and recognizing excellence in numismatic writing, including an annual writer’s competition and awards for the best books, articles, auction catalogs and other print, online and electronic presentations.
“Since we became operational in 2005, NCA has concentrated on fighting fraud,” said John Albanese, founder and president of the not-for-profit watchdog organization. “But under our charter, we have an obligation to foster educational programs as well.
“Our mission is not just to fight abuses but also to educate people – educate them about grading, cleaning, everything. That makes them more aware of things that they should be careful about. And it also helps the hobby grow. NCA is not just about enforcement of proper business practices; it’s also meant to help expand the hobby.”
Albanese sees a special need to get young collectors involved in writing about the hobby, particularly on topics that deal with consumer protection.
“They’re the lifeblood of numismatics,” he declared. “We’ve seen a graying of the hobby in recent years, and we need to energize our base by attracting more members of the younger generation and encouraging them to assume leadership roles. In this Information Age, writing is certainly among the most important roles they can play.
“The way I look at it,” he added, “if 100 young people take advantage of this offer and 10 become really good writers, that’s a bargain. If just five become good writers, it’s still worthwhile.”
According to Albanese, the offer is intended primarily for college-age collectors and recent graduates – though there is no minimum age.
“A lot of young people are having trouble getting their feet on the ground in this economy,” he said. “Jobs are hard to come by and money is tight. So I look at this as a way to help them get started in numismatic writing in a way that they probably wouldn’t have pursued on their own.”
Applicants for the NLG memberships will be required to submit evidence that they have written about the hobby – perhaps for club publications – but any such writing need not have been published. NLG officers will review all applications to confirm that they meet minimum requirements.
Albanese views NLG as an ideal partner for the program.
“This is a perfect turnkey operation,” he said. “It enables us to accomplish our goal of getting young people more deeply involved in numismatic writing and, at the same time, it broadens NLG’s membership. And NLG is already set up to accommodate this influx of young members and serve their writing needs.”
“Like many hobby organizations,” he said, “NLG has seen a significant rise in the average age of members. This infusion of young blood will give us new vitality and expand the pool of potential future contributors – and even current contributors – for hobby publications and general media outlets that cover coinage issues from time to time.”
Prominent New York City coin dealer Scott A. Travers is a key figure in both NCA and NLG. He serves as NCA’s executive mediator, spearheading efforts to recover funds for aggrieved consumers from unscrupulous dealers. In its first eight years, NCA has helped recover more than $7 million for unwitting coin buyers who were grossly overcharged. For more than 20 years, Travers has been coordinator of the NLG Writer’s Competition.
“While very different in nature, these two organizations complement each other,” Travers said. “The Numismatic Consumer Alliance seeks to educate and protect consumers, and the Numismatic Literary Guild is the coin field’s most respected organization of writers and authors who write about consumer protection issues.
“For that reason,” he said, “this is a natural marriage and an important step toward protecting consumers and educating people about coins.”
The outreach to young collectors is especially important, Travers said.
“It’s like planting a seed,” he said. “It’s absolutely essential that knowledgeable writers be identified, encouraged and cultivated at a young age, so that as they mature, they can help the industry mature as well.
“At an early age, in the late 1970s, I got tremendous help from the Young Numismatists program directed by Florence Schook for the American Numismatic Association. And when I began writing articles and books on consumer-related topics, the NLG served as an important motivating force and was instrumental in my success.
”It’s essential that we continue this type of motivation in the Age of Computers, and NCA and NLG both deserve accolades for partnering and promoting this important plan.”
An application form for NLG membership can be found at the Guild’s Web site, www.nlgonline.org. Applicants age 25 or younger should fill this out and send it, along with a sample of coin writing they have done, to Ed Reiter, NLG Executive Director, 1517 Stewart Drive, Nanticoke, PA 18634. They should write “NCA” in the space provided for the sponsor’s name.