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Get that small-town feeling with coins

 Downtown Iola, Wis.

Downtown Iola, Wis.

When I walk down the street here in Iola, Wis., people say hello. I reply in a friendly way. Sometimes it becomes the start of a long conversation. You never know in a small town. Iola has 1,300 people.

I realize that most of the population of the United States lives in an urban setting. The quarter of us who live in rural areas like Iola are considered to be throwbacks to a time gone by, or perhaps even hicks. No matter, it is a good life.

If you are now wondering about where I am going with this, I will tell you. Collecting coins can be like a small town if you let it. If you go to coin shows, coin club meetings, and/or seminars, you will soon find that you have made so many new friends and acquaintances that it is like creating your own small town even if you live in a metro area with millions of people.

That small-town feeling was something I enjoyed in the middle of September at the Northern California Numismatic Association seminar in Vallejo.

Now Vallejo is roughly a 70-mile drive north from either San Francisco or Sacramento. Neither of these cities will be mistaken for a small town like Iola.

However, at the seminar, where I had the privilege of being one of four speakers, it was like walking down the street in Iola. I saw old friends. We had conversations. I got the news. I enjoyed the warmest of hospitality. I can’t thank the organizers enough for the experience (read more here).

There is much in life that we cannot change, but the number of friends we make is something we have full control over. Collectors like alone time. It gives us the opportunity to study, to learn and to contemplate the history that gave us the coins in our hands.

For many, this contemplative part is virtually all there is. They don’t join a club, go to a show, or attend a seminar.

There is nothing wrong with that. But if that is where you stop, you are missing out on an aspect of numismatics that helps make it even more interesting and fulfilling.

If you want to feel a bit more connected, why not visit the American Numismatic Association website at and join, if you are not presently a member? Check out the Show Directory in Numismatic News and find one to go to.

Yes, I know you are busy. Even in Iola, we understand that. I have had one neighbor who wants to join me when I travel to the next local show. Twice now his suggested dates have conflicted with a business trip of mine. It will look like I am dodging him if I can’t make the third time work.

But shows are worth making time for, even if you can’t go to as many as you’d like. If you are a resident of an urban area, all the better; there are more shows there. There are more potential dealers and collectors to meet. The sooner you start, the sooner you will enjoy that small-town feeling of numismatics.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

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• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-2000 is your guide to images, prices and information on coinage of the 1900s.