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Viewpoint: Kids can collect circulating coins

By Mark Johnson

Patrick Montrose makes some good points in his “Viewpoint” column regarding the graying of our hobby. I too see more gray hairs at our coin club meetings and wonder how to get kids interested. I believe there are many positive steps we can take to rejuvenate our hobby.

The “Viewpoint” headline claimed the hobby is too expensive for young collectors. While that may be true for the coins we old-timers collect, there have always been expensive coins; coins way out of the reach of young collectors.

I remember reading about and marveling at the coins sold by Stack’s and other auction houses years ago. However, just as the price of a new car didn’t discourage me from wanting to drive, those high-end coin prices didn’t discourage me from putting nickels in my folder. It was just another aspect to a very interesting hobby.

There’s nothing we can or should do about the high prices of some coins. We can, however, stop disparaging coins that can be found in circulation. It’s been 50 years since silver was removed from our circulating coins. It’s time to stop bemoaning base-metal coins.

You can still buy silver and gold if you want, you can even find an occasional piece of silver in rolls. Imagine if 50 years ago some old-timer said to you, “Kid, why are you collecting nickels and dimes? Gold is the only thing worth collecting and they haven’t minted gold since I was a kid!” It would’ve taken the wind out of your sails, wouldn’t it?

Contrary to what many old-time coin collectors believe, there are more collectible coins in circulation now than ever. Yes, they are circulated, but so were the dimes you put away as a kid.

Remember when you didn’t care about value, but you did care about filling the hole in your folder, and you were learning something about grading? Those were great times. What were the tools you had? Folders and maybe a Red Book for grading descriptions.
What can we do to rejuvenate our hobby? Encourage people to collect post-1964 coins from circulation. Take a look at your junk drawers, find some coins that have sat there for years and spend them. Give folders away at schools, churches, scout troops, coin club meetings, and for presents. Put a few coins in the holes to get the kids started. Any other ideas?

This “Viewpoint” was written by Mark Johnson of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.,

Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to david.harper@fwmedia.com.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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