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Quarter gets the cafe limelight

Kids have teachable moments as every parent knows.

Coin collectors should be ready to jump in with a teachable moment for noncollectors if the opportunity arises.

One such moment occurred the other day in a restaurant in downtown Iola, Wis.

I was sitting at the counter. I was talking to another regular who is there probably twice a week.

We have the usual conversations about weather and community events that are a hallmark of life in a small town.

One thing that we rarely talk about is coins.

He knows I am a collector. He knows I work at Numismatic News.

He might even remember that I regularly check my change.

However, I caught him by surprise the other day when the waitress gave me my day’s change.

I looked at the coins.

There was nothing promising in my hand.

But then I happened to remark that I had just gotten a quarter with my name on it.

Really? he asked.

He had to see it.

He probably was thinking this was the beginning of some sort of joke that is characteristic of the lunch crowd.

What I had in my hand was a 2016-P Harpers Ferry quarter.

He took the coin. He squinted and saw the name.

He was a little bit surprised that I was not actually trying to play a joke.

I took that opportunity to offer a 20-second plug for the America the Beautiful quarter program and the five new designs that are issued each year.

Did I broaden the collector base by what I did?

Probably not.

But I did not hurt it, either.

My lunch counter friend is not going to run out and tell someone that Dave Harper’s name is on a quarter, but he might mention the ATB quarters to someone else in a general conversation.

Somewhere down the line that information might just reach someone else who is at the tipping point of taking an active interest in coins.

That would help the hobby grow.

I will never know if my comments were just so much hot air, or whether they did numismatics some good.

However, the worst thing that can happen to numismatics is if we active collectors don’t talk about coins to noncollectors at all.

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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