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History lost on young collectors

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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I started collecting coins in 1955. I had uncles who were in World Wars I and II. We studied World Wars I and II in school, as well as how this nation was formed from the time of the War of 1812 to the time of the Spanish American War. Therefore, the significance of certain past years was not lost on me or any kids of my generation.

Bob Olekson’s idea of commemorative $2 notes, mentioned in the Feb. 1 issue and other ideas that you propose, have merit not only for us Class of 1960 collectors, but for the youths of today. The youths (and adults) of today would be wasting their time trying to plug a Whitman folder with 2008 nickels, 2010 dimes and such, working their way back to 1970. It just would not be the same. There is no history, no connection with it, to be realized today in such a venture. Buying a 1955-S penny today is not the same as buying a 1910-S Lincoln or an 1883 V-nickel or a 1670 shilling in 1959 or today. When I was a kid, I knew who Machiavelli was. Kids born in 1976 don’t know, even today as old as they are, who John F. Kennedy was.

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Fifteen years ago I had a student aide, 23 years of age, attending college from Nigeria. I showed him my World Atlas I used in 1961 in college freshman history, and he was just floored at how the powers of Europe had divided up Africa, and the rest of the world. He was only familiar with the post-coloial and emerging nations era.

Kids are a lot smarter today also, so it wouldn’t be intellectually stimulating enough for them to collect 2008 nickels and 2010 dimes, but the economy generally, and particularly for a kid, doesn’t support his going it alone on collecting something stimulating like $2 bills, unless he gives up his Xbox. We had the privilege of collecting on our own – financially, that is, as this is not to dismiss the wonderful blessings of family and parental – God love them forever – participation.

I see there is a general trend with collectors, a trend of disgust, the way the hobby has gone, the way the market flamboozles collectors. Price structure, spotted merchandise, orders absolutely promised that never arrive, are offered adjustment with the adjustment being a cancellation because of “sold out” by the market, thus ruining a grandchild’s Christmas from his grandpop. Coin collecting/numismatics is in a very sad state today.

Also, there is an abstract perception needed to appreciate coins, where as with stamps, the historical and cultural significance is readily more apparent.

This Viewpoint was written by Larry Toomey, a hobbyist who is from Upper Darby, Pa.
Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Numismatic News.
To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send e-mail to david.harper@fwmedia.com.

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