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Put coins in children’s hands

I have just returned to the office from participating in the U.S. Mint’s Numismatic Forum in Washington, D.C. Next week, I will go over the event in more detail. However, there was one simple comment during the program on how to spark potential coin collecting interest among children that I wanted to share right away. Credit Kathy McFadden, the executive director of the Industry Council for Tangible Assets, for the sage observation.


In today’s world, children are handling coins and currency much less than in years past. Instead of receiving cash for gifts, they now often receive gift cards. Even the schools are switching functions such as paying for lunches. When my youngest child finished high school this year, a check was periodically taken to the office to add to her electronic lunch account under her student number. She then swiped her student card to pay for her lunches and had the total subtracted from her account balance.

One of the ways that children can learn to appreciate the value of money is by receiving and paying out cash. But such experiences are diminishing for children just as they are for adults. Not having to carry cash is convenient, but the education of children suffers as a result.

So, here is a simple idea. Put coins in children’s hands. Instead of giving them gift cards or automatically setting up electronic accounts, give them coins and paper currency. Then ask them what they can learn by looking at the change in their pockets and purses.

Understand that such an activity would not cost any more than the alternative ways of providing spending money to them. So, what have you to lose? Have fun yourself while putting coins in children’s hands, and you just might help create a few more young numismatists.

Patrick A. Heller was the American Numismatic Association 2017 Exemplary Service and 2012 Harry Forman Numismatic Dealer of the Year Award winner. He was also honored by the Numismatic Literary Guild in 2017 and 2016 for the Best Dealer-Published Magazine/Newspaper and for Best Radio Report. He is the communications officer of Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes “Liberty’s Outlook,” a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Past newsletter issues can be viewed at Some of his radio commentaries titled “Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which streams live and becomes part of the audio and text archives posted at

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

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