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Try your hand at writing about coins

This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Did you attend your first major convention, and then wished to share the experience? Are you a seasoned numismatist with a bit of new research? Have you discovered a new collecting interest, or a new approach to building a set, or you just want to describe your appreciation for a particular coin? 

Write it down. Write an article about your pet topic. Even if you are not a professional writer, keep in mind that many publications use coin articles, perhaps including the newsletter for your local coin club. The editor may be constantly looking for new articles and he will welcome your contribution. And you might even get paid for your efforts.

Pick your topic. Maybe you spotted a rarity at a coin show, or found your dream coin, or made a find in circulation.  What makes this coin special to you? It helps to make an outline before you begin writing the actual article, to be sure you cover everything you want to mention.

Describe the coin. Perhaps give a little background about your coin. Reference books are available to help, and there’s always your trusty Red Book.

While writing and reading about your favorite coin, you may come across some information that you didn’t know previously. A personal remembrance, an auction record, or something about your coin that makes it more special. Write this up in your own words.

Each collector has his or her own collecting experience and way of seeing things.  Everyone has a different story to tell. Your coin is special to you for your own reasons. Someone else may appreciate your coin because it is scarce, or beautiful, or famous. You may enjoy your coin because you first learned of it in an old reference book when you were young, or your coin has great sentimental value. 
Only you can tell this personal story that turns what might otherwise be a generic topic into something that becomes vivid and alive for readers.

Computers make writing so much easier.  Remember the days of typewriters and white-out, then visiting the post office to be sure your envelope had enough postage? Those days are happily gone.
You can write your article directly on your computer and e-mail the finished product to the editor without ever leaving the house. Don’t forget to proof read your article.  Spell Check is a nice on modern computers, but it is not perfect. If you should type the word “corn,” and you really mean to type “coin,” Spell Check won’t pick that up, because “corn” is a real word.

A personal remembrance is different from an article about a new discovery. If you specialize in overdates and you found a previously unknown specimen, that’s big news. You can give an article about your overdate the personal touch, but you can get a little technical and mention something about how overdates are made and other famous overdates from the past.  You can quote the expert who pronounced the coin genuine, and get his thoughts.

Do you have a strong opinion about something happening in the numismatic hobby? Write about it. Perhaps a hobby newspaper will want to print your opinion piece.  Numismatic News publishes both a Viewpoint column for this sort of thing, and if you write something short, it can always be a letter to the editor.

State your case. defend your position. Give reasons why you think the way you do.

Then send it to editor Dave Harper at david.harper@fwmedia.com.

Perhaps the opinion piece is the best way to get started. After all, if you don’t know your own opinion, who will? Writing something like this gets you started. It gets the wheels of the mind turning. From there you might surprise yourself with the many ideas that will come to you.

If you find that you enjoy writing and expressing yourself this way, you may want to tackle a full-blown research article. This takes time and work, but it’s satisfying to know you have contributed something to your numismatic hobby.

Many reference books can be borrowed from the American Numismatic Association Library, a free service to ANA members. You just pay the postage for the materials. You can order photocopies of older articles or auction catalog entries that may be helpful. Perhaps you already own some of the books you will need. Even a local library or museum can have material that will help you in researching your topic.

Don’t forget to look online.  You may be surprised at what you might find there.

It’s fun and satisfying to see your name in print, when your article is published.  You may learn a lot along the way, and enjoy yourself in the process. You may decide to write again, write more articles, about your favorite coin, your experiences at a local or a major convention. The possibilities for you are vast.

Everyone has his or her unique experience of the numismatic hobby, whether it’s collecting, favorite coins, personal opinions, or a method of collecting and finding choice coins. Try your hand at writing about your experience and see where it takes you.

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