By Q. David Bowers – Co-founder, Stack’s Bowers ……
At the recent Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo in Baltimore I spent the best part of two days visiting with collectors, dealers, and others talking about coin collecting. It was a super dynamic show, what with multiple sessions of the Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction, the annual meeting of the Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4), and endless activity on the bourse floor. Everyone with whom I visited said he or she had a great time!
At the show and also on the internet before and after the event, I have been involved in lengthy discussions on how to attract more people to coin collecting and numismatics–to pursue the pleasures of coin collecting and studying coins, tokens, medals, and paper money. I call it the world’s greatest hobby, a pleasurable pastime. Others like to call it an industry. Whatever it is, it is the focal point for many fine people.
Years ago Young Numismatists (YNs) were the great spawning ground for future growth of the hobby. In the 1970s and ’80s I gave my “All About Coins” course at the American Numismatic Association (ANA) Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs. The classes were always full and consisted of about half adults and half the younger set. The YNs were always the most excited and most perceptive. Many of them are still active today in 2017!
However, in today’s world the use of “mental capital” to engage in challenges for youth is largely taken up by computers, Facebook, iPhones, the internet, and related things that provide instant stimulation and gratification. I hope as many new YNs can be captured as possible, but I view that as exceedingly difficult. However, the ANA, Whitman Publishing with its line of books, and many others including myself are trying hard to expand coin collecting. Recently a YN was elected to the board of directors of the Civil War Token Society. Earlier this year he won a writing award.
As an addition to drawing in the younger set, not as an alternative, I see it that for the next couple of decades there is vast–indeed unlimited–potential to get RETIREES involved in coin collecting.
Think about it.
There are millions of retired professionals and other educated people who are smart, talented, and have enthusiasm and a love for life, but don’t have much to focus on that is stimulating. Coin collecting, combined with building a working library, furnishes the ideal playground! Nearly all of the editors and leaders in specialized numismatic groups are on the long side of 50 and have been in numismatics for years. Most are just as enthusiastic as ever!
In Baltimore I gave a program to C4 in a LARGE room filled with perhaps 75 people, the vast majority of whom were older folks. I don’t recall seeing a single YN in the group.
I learned long ago that people of all ages who build a modest library of interesting books and read them and who belong to specialized societies such as the above tend to say in numismatics for a long time, many for life.
As an example, I mention the Civil War Token Society with which I am helping with the sixth edition of Patriotic Civil War Tokens, edited by Susan Trask and set to be released in early 2018. As time permits I am also researching, mainly on the internet, a book on technical and historical aspects of store cards, a nice companion to the new U.S. Civil War Store Cards book. The people with whom I have been interfacing have been in the hobby for years. Check out the CWTS on the internet and for $18 sign up for membership. While you are at it, check out other specialized groups. Some of them are listed in the back of A Guide Book of United States Coins (the Red Book). Your life might change!
Discover the wonderful world of studying and reading about coins, tokens, medals, and paper money. Read as much as you can and go slowly. By doing that, numismatics will become a great part of your life.