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Is the ‘Youth Approach’ the Only Answer?

by Michael S. Turrini

Recently, I had an exchange with a distinguished and recognized national philatelist and ‘stamp booster’. We were conversing about the exemplary efforts annually committed by dedicated volunteers at the internationally known and well-attended WESTPEX, in Burlingame, California, at the end of each April.

WESTPEX’s ‘youth activities’ encompasses two rooms, provides to each youngster a ‘goodie bag’, has ‘hands-on’ opportunities, (like ‘design a stamp’), and even includes a full tour of the quite expansive WESTPEX, with a trek through the bourse area. The young attendees are all in primary grades, sixth or lower.

On Sunday, all-day, Scouter Kyle A. Anderson, of Walnut Creek, Calif., coordinates a quite successful Scout Stamp Merit Badge Workshop, to repeated rave reviews.

These aforementioned examples are evidence that our kindred hobbyists in ‘the world of stamps’ are intense and devoted to ‘the hobby of tomorrow’ as we are in ‘the world of money’.

Much is promoted and preached plus energized and expended, in dollars, toward ‘the hobby of tomorrow’, in the hope and dream of, as the legendary and late Edward C. Rochette once stated, ‘planting seeds’.

But, back to the initial conversation, the distinguished and recognized national philatelist offered no objections to the WESTPEX exemplary endeavors, which he endorses; rather, he candidly and clearly stated ‘what do we in stamps and in coins do for those in their 30s and 40s, who have reached a point in their careers and lives that they may want avocation or a hobby?’

The First Graders were happy, and the Scouts earned another Merit Badge. Bluntly, we have no statistical facts to confirm ten years or a few decades later whether these youths become coin hobbyists, or stamp hobbyists.

Yet, what does our hobby—-and our brothers and sisters in stamps—-offer to the young urban professional with his or her family established and in a solid career, plus now having some disposal funds to attract them into our ‘world of money’?

Is our only offering the often repeated investment approach?

Across this nation and with our compatriots in Canada, our hobby is blessed with solid national organizations, learned specialized groups, regional associations, as by state or province, and huge numbers of local coin clubs. When a youngster walks in, there is usually something. When a young adult walks in, what does he or she receive? Perennially, it is a membership application and a plea to join.

David J. Trimingham, President of the Fairfield (California) Coin Club and enthused coin advocate, and this Guest Columnist have created a ‘welcome Zip-Loc bag’ designed for both the youth and adults. It is a small gesture, but it is something. There are readily available informative brochures and pamphlets from various sources. The Professional Numismatist Guild (PNG) has some excellent informative literature.

In closing, my two goals with this Viewpoint are: one, to present this issue, and two, to inquire, around our great North American nations, what others might be doing for novice or prospective coin hobbyists, who are much older than those in elementary or secondary school. Thoughts, and actual successful efforts, are asked.

The future of our hobby—-this universal hobby of kings and king of hobbies—-cannot be sustained on a ‘youth only approach’.

Constructive comments and ideas can be conventionally mailed to ‘PO Box 4104, Vallejo, California, 94590-0410’ or emailed to EMPERORI@juno.com or movieman8@comcast.net.

This Viewpoint was written by Michael S. Turrini, author of ‘Coin Celebrants’.

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