Skip to main content

Hobbyists respond to Katrina's destruction

Editor David C. Harper believes New Orleans will bounce back from this tragedy with the help of a caring numismatic community.

What Hurricane Katrina has done to New Orleans-Biloxi-Mobile and surrounding areas is just too stunning for words. Fortunately, though, coin hobbyists are not too stunned to take action.


The letter to the editor from American Numismatic Association president William H. Horton Jr. suggesting donations of airline miles to be used by relief workers or people who need to relocate is just one example of the generosity that can be found in numismatics.

In the days immediately following the storm, e-mails were traveling through cyberspace both seeking and giving information about hobbyists who have been affected. So far, the specific news regarding specific people has been good. I am grateful for that.

I have just returned from a grand opening of the offices and auction gallery of paper money dealer Lyn Knight in suburban Kansas City. It was held Aug. 29-Sept. 1 – unfortunately timed to coincide with the battering of the Gulf Coast. Day by day as the full horror became apparent, the dealers present made donations to the Red Cross. The effort, coordinated by Knight, raised $6,400. This was just one example of the grass roots of America spontaneously taking action. It makes me proud to be a part of numismatics. I am sure there will be more examples of help from the hobby to cite with each passing day.

How many Numismatic News readers have already helped, I do not know. What I do know is that I believe it to be many. Their generosity of spirit has been apparent to me for my entire career. I believe more will follow as America’s churches and temples, charitable organizations and civic groups ramp up their efforts to do whatever is necessary to alleviate suffering, get people back on their feet and eventually rebuild.

An event of this magnitude cannot help but change us. In some cases, it is for the worse, but in many more cases, it is for the better.

Coin collectors have an advantage. They know history. You cannot be a collector without learning of the ups and downs that are part of the American experience. Hurricane Katrina is a down, but our history is full of many more ups. Why? Because when Americans are knocked down, they get up again. They recover. They go on to not only regain what they once had but they go on building and rebuilding and making things even better. That’s our history. New Orleans is a part of that history. This is but the latest and a most unfortunate chapter in the city’s story, but there will be more.

While it is shocking to contemplate what has gone on in the past several weeks, I know that shock wears off and a firm resolve to get on with things takes over.

New Orleans has been hit by Mother Nature before. The city has recovered. It has repelled military attack and fallen to it. But the life of the city has always gone on. It will go on yet again and it will add to the blend of attributes that makes the city unique.

Mistakes will be identified and learned from. A new strand will be added to the American character. What comes next, I cannot say. What I do know is something better will follow. What it will be and how long it will take is in the hands of the American people. That’s what gives me confidence. That’s what numismatics has taught me.

Those who do not live in New Orleans but are equally hard hit might feel a little left out. That is understandable, but it will not change their path to a better future. After all, they are Americans. Know that Numismatic News readers have you in their thoughts and are doing their share to help out.

As a reader, if you are helping out, let me know when you can. Let me know what your club or organization is doing. There are many stories that will need telling in the coming weeks. Help me tell them.

Send me an e-mail at, or write me at Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. I know that these stories will inspire us all.