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Did YN programs have impact?

Coin collectors often wonder what the future holds for the hobby. Speculation about it makes interesting reading.

One aspect of the future of numismatics is that it is largely determined by demographics.

Current collectors are counted by the number of them born between 60 and 50 years ago.


Because the prime decade of coin collecting for most hobbyists is their 50s. It has been that way for 100 years.

So the health of the hobby is determined by the number of 50-year-olds who decide to get in there and spend time and money on their favorite hobby.

Subtract the number of collectors who reach 60 this year from the number who turn 50 and the resulting number will tell you whether we will grow or not. If the number is positive, growth is likely.

True, there are collectors who are 49 and 61, respectively, but they are not part of the key demographic group.

In the next 10 years we will begin to see whether all the Young Numismatist programs that became mainstream in the 1970s will have any impact at all on the numbers of collectors in their prime.

About half of all collectors started before they were 20 and we will see if YN programs in their youth makes them return to the hobby in any greater numbers. Most collectors who started as kids put the hobby aside for a while as graduation, jobs and families became priorities. They then return in middle age as time and finances permit. Perhaps more will report that they never left the hobby, or returned sooner.

About 40 percent of collectors begin after age 40.

That leaves the great demographics wasteland of ages 20-40 where only 10 percent had their beginnings in numismatics.

The next 10 years should be a good one for the hobby overall. The question in my mind is what happens to YN programs if we see no evidence in that period that YN programs had any impact on the overall collecting life pattern of those who will be in their 50s during the coming decade and who would count among their number those very first YNs.

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One Response to Did YN programs have impact?

  1. Scott B in DC says:

    Either in the March of April edition of The Numismatist, Q. David Bowers had an essay about this topic and also wondered about attracting those in the college-age to post-children aged collectors. One thing Bowers noted is that these people are turning to other entertainment venues, including the electronic world. If that is the case, then why isn’t the hobby embracing the electronic world even more than they are?

    It is one thing to have a website and another to be on Facebook and Twitter—and active! I know Numismatic News is using these venues, but only as an extension of their publishing. Why hasn’t Numismatic News done more? Once you are on line, you need to cultivate that presence to give the collectors more. You can attract those 20-somethings by being creative in your approach.

    The one organization in the position to do something is the ANA. With all due respect for Dave Bowers, he is wrong when he wrote that this was nothing the ANA can do. Minimally, the ANA can do a lot more. First, they can catch up by embracing Facebook and Twitter as communications outlets. Add pointers to their pages on each via the website and promote them in The Numismatist. Commit someone from the ANA communications and publicity department to update these accounts regularly.

    That is only the beginning of what the ANA could do. They already have a video partnership, why not use it for more promotion? How about supplementing interviews with audio files or videos of the interviews?

    Bring numismatics to the people. How about a digital library? There are ways of doing this without breaking the bank! How about electronic classes?

    There is so much the ANA can do if they only thought about it!

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