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Keep coin clubs alive by giving back

Jim Majoros is an exemplary advocate for our hobby and within his Garden State and for the American Numismatic Association (ANA), he is legendary for his insights and initiative.

His “Viewpoint” published in the Jan. 6 Numismatic News ignited my recollections and going through my archives of my three plus decades of hobby commitments, a possible – emphasize a possible – answer might be offered.

Jim speaks of the past 30 plus years and notes the revolutionary changes in modern technology and our society. All these are factors in “Where have the coin clubs gone?” However, an answer might be found also in Pogo’s rejoinder: “We have met the enemy and it is us.”

Back in September 1999, I wrote an editorial for “Heads and Tales,” the newsletter of the Northern California Numismatic Association (NCNA). The inspiration for the following was the then recent demise of the Napa Valley (California) Coin Club. What was written then might answer Jim’s question or, at least, present thought for today.

“Napa Valley Coin Club, January 1961 – May 1999

“There are no cemeteries for dead coin clubs. There is no Memorial Day – Decoration Day – for dead coin clubs. There are no funeral services nor wakes, nor sympathy cards for dead coin clubs. There, sadly, are no mourners for dead coin clubs.

“A dead coin club is just that: dead, cruel dead. There is nothing left, save what may be preserved on yellowing pages of minutes or newsletters or in fading photographs of individuals no one knows, or cares, or what might be held in the memories of a few.

“What Happened To The Napa Valley Coin Club? Why Would This Local Coin Club – which once claimed an attendance of 150 per meeting, a pre-eminent local coin show, and members driving from around the Bay Area to be at its meetings – Just End? Where Did All Those Successes Go? What Happened?

“The answers are legion. There were so many factors spread over a decade, and there were, cruelly, so many missed opportunities.

“For myself, I was an honored Life member of the Napa Valley Coin Club, and the club was the second local coin club that I joined, back in December 1975. Yet, I must publicly accept some of the fault for the club’s demise. I admit that openly and candidly. But, my own guilt would not be enough for this club to end. Then, What Was The Problem? What Went Wrong? Why Was Not Something Done?

“In the months, since the final meeting on Friday, May 21, 1999, and in packing and protecting 38 years of history for preservation by the American Numismatic Association (ANA), I have come to hazard an answer, not the whole answer, nor maybe just an answer.

“This local coin club died when its members – some who once were so devoted – retreated and no longer gave: there were no replacements for those who had served; there was no willingness to try; there was no effort; there was no interest. It had become what one gets. In the end, the members – those with sterling records and those without ever giving – simply walked-out and went home.

“Yes, the Napa Valley Coin Club was only a coin club. Yes, in all the tragic pains, there are far worst and terrible loses. Yes, nothing can be achieved in this agony and fall so far from ecstasy. It Is Ended. Finis. Closed. Done. Dead.

“What happened was so typical of so much of life. We simply seem to forget that ‘a living is what you get out of life, yet a life is what you gave.’ There is a difference between the verbs, ‘get’ and ‘gave’. One was the attitude of most Napa Valley Coin Club members; however, the other could have saved and sustained the Napa Valley Coin Club. They wanted to ‘get’, and they did not want to ‘give.’

“Which Is Your Verb?”

It has been 10 years since the final meeting of the Napa Valley Coin Club.  A few times in the years since, someone has mentioned this coin club or discovered a wood issue or silver round from its Silver Jubilee in 1986. There are ephemera and memories left. But, the club is dead, long dead.

In the end, a possible answer, “Colonel” Jim Majoros, are the verbs “get” and “give.” One verb takes and one verb sustains. That might answer your question and that might be our challenge, too.
Remember: Have fun with your hobby. Always serve others. Enjoy your collecting! And, create hope!

Michael S. Turrini, of Vallejo, Calif., a retired educator, is associated with Jim Majoros in the American Numismatic Association’s Representative Program. He is the current president of the California State Numismatic Association.

Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Numismatic News.
To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send e-mail to david.harper@fwpubs.com.

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