Can numismatics survive without kids?
The short answer is yes.
The long answer is it’s complicated.
Historically, there have been two portals to entry to numismatics.
Youth is one of them.
I entered numismatics when I was eight years old.
It was the circulation finds era.
I never left.
For people of an orderly frame of mind, this is how it should work.
However, I am unusual.
Most collectors who began as kids put coin collecting aside as they grew up.
Some did so when they needed money for dating.
Others did so as they went off to college and had little time for childhood activities.
Still others simply had a short fling with collecting as kids do with so many other interests.
Childhood is a time of trying many things.
Even in my day, the heyday of circulation finds, most kids did not collect coins and never would.
The other portal to entry is middle age.
It is a time when the next generation of kids has gone off to college.
The spouse is engaged in one activity or another.
The other partner has time to spend on an activity of his or her own.
Coins look appealing.
The root of interest could be deep in childhood.
Interest might be due to a gold bullion coin commercial seen on cable TV.
Maybe it is due to receipt of a challenge coin while serving in the military.
The military has provided many an accomplished collector.
Knowing that there are these two paths to entry, organized numismatics has spent decades sponsoring Young Numismatists programs.
There has been virtually no attention paid to the entry point at middle age – except by marketers.
They are selling gold bullion coins to the middle-aged.
They are selling gold-plated state quarters.
They are selling medals made of silver supposedly recovered from the World Trade Center after the twin towers crashed to the ground.
Organized numismatics only pays attention to these numismatic novices when they knock on our door to resell what they have purchased.
Why do we not have a program to convert these individuals to coin collecting?
It won’t be easy.
It is far easier to collect donations on the bourse floor for cute 10-year-old kids than middle-aged lawyers or doctors.
Yet in the 150 years of modern numismatics, it is precisely those middle-aged lawyers and doctors who were the backbone of numismatics.
We need a modern outreach to them.
Marketers know they are out there.
That is why there are so many numismatic commercials and programs on cable TV.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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