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Coins become the new in thing

Coin collecting as part of mass American culture is not what it used to be.

My generation remembers the old “Hawaii 5-O” episode from 1973 involving a 1913 Liberty Head nickel.

Coins are rarely portrayed as being that desirable.

Nowadays if coins are mentioned at all, it is usually in the context of odd behavior.

The hero that wins the heart of his sweetheart is not a coin collector in modern culture.

In the last few days I have seen an episode of the “Big Bang Theory” where Leonard has gotten a change maker that he wears on his belt the way old street car conductors did.

The sight gag was good for multiple yucks during the course of the episode.

I saw an Ally bank commercial on cable with a woman wading in a fountain looking for a quarter that her boyfriend apparently threw into the water.

She reads off the date as being 1998.

The boyfriend quickly confirms it is his even though earlier he had said it was in another part of the pool.

The implied message of course is “all this for a quarter; are you nuts?”

Ally wants to emphasize that the firm takes money seriously even in small amounts.

A similar message to look at every penny you find in the street was conveyed by Ally in the middle of October when it spread 100 copper-colored, cent-sized tokens in 10 large cities across America.

They are worth 100,000 cents, or $1,000 when redeemed.

The collecting hobby could not afford to buy so much publicity for coins.

The question is whether this attention is a net positive for numismatics.

To be sure, the concepts involved are not collector related, but simply coin related.

I believe the attention will be beneficial, especially when Leonard’s wife Penny said the change maker was hot.

She didn’t mean it, but was simply being supportive.

Getting people to think about coins is difficult.

If they do so in a humorous way, or in terms of finance, it can be the first step non-collectors might take down the numismatic road.

Times are changing.

We don’t know where the mass perception of coin collecting will go.

But with a recent Hollywood movie called, “The Accountant,” I can say as the son of an accountant, that things are looking up.

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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