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Can writing still change lives?

When I was a kid filling Whitman albums and following the fluctuating price of silver from the financial pages of the newspaper I delivered, numismatics was important to me.

My entering a monthly writing contest sponsored by Coins Magazine when I was 15 changed my life.

It was the first time I saw my name in a byline in print. I have been active in numismatic journalism now for most of my life.

Naturally, as I received word from the American Numismatic Association that it was accepting submissions to its Young Numismatists literary competition, I want to help spread the word.

Numismatics is important. Writing is important. Who knows how much difference this contest will make in the lives of the participants?

There are three categories and prizes for the top three in each. That means nine young hobbyists might see their lives change.

Children ages 8 to 12 will compete for the Bill Fivaz Young Numismatist Literary Award.

The ANA says, “Article should display basic knowledge of a numis­matic topic. Creativity and original conclusions are encouraged. Suggested length: 450-900 words.”

Kids 13-17 will compete for the Q. David Bowers YN Literary Award.

“Article should display advanced knowledge of a numis­matic topic. Logically presented facts and original conclusions are encouraged. A bibliographic list of sources is recommended, but not required. Suggested length: 900-1,800 words.”

Those hobbyists who are 18-22 will vie for the Kenneth E. Bressett YN Literary Award.

“Article should display in-depth knowledge of a numismatic topic. Logically presented facts and original conclusions are required, as is a bibliographic list of sources. ­Inclusion of charts, graphs, tables or other illustrations is encouraged. Suggested length: 1,800-3,600 words.”

First place winners will get a $500 cash prize plus a $500 voucher good with Whitman for its line of books.

Second place earns a $200 Whitman voucher and third place a $100 voucher.

Submissions are due May 16.

Email entries to

They can also be mailed to: ANA Publications Department c/o Janine Hall-Conrardy 818 N. Cascade Avenue Colorado Springs, CO 80903.

But what YN doesn’t have email?

The toughest requirement might be that entrants must be members of the American Numismatic Association.

This is not an unusual requirement, but perhaps next year the competition can be opened up to nonmember youth and prizes can include ANA memberships.

Encouraging someone who isn’t an ANA member to walk through the door to membership might increase the odds of a life-changing experience occurring.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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