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Collectors haven’t tried threats


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Collect coins like they will be taken away from you tomorrow.

That might seem to be a strange sentence to begin this column with. I recall as a child being kidded from time to time about collecting coins. It was implied I was too old for it.

My reaction was it made me all the more committed to the activity of collecting. I was stubborn, no question about it, but while others moved on, I never did. I didn’t want to give up. Coin collecting remained a part of my life, even if the time I had to spend on it varied as I moved through high school and college.

I first subscribed to Coins Magazine in 1967. That is now 50 years ago. There has not been a time since then when I have not been reading at least one numismatic periodical.

Motivating newcomers to be as committed to collecting is a challenge. Perhaps we should take a page from the bullion sellers. If you spend any time at all reading the material put out by gold and silver investment advocates, you might notice that it is the possibility of loss, either by inflation or outright confiscation, that is a huge motivating factor for buyers.

The latest wave of potential loss is about societies going cashless. This is described less as individuals and businesses opting for convenience and more as a sinister government plot to spy on us and control our every financial move. You apparently can sell more gold and silver by pointing out that changing ways of tendering payment is due to force rather than technological innovation that fuels a desire by the public to earn airline miles and go to the bank less.

An older scarce story is that gold might one day be called in as it was in 1933 by President Franklin Roosevelt. It is apparently a good motivator in persuading people to buy pre-1934 gold collector coins that were exempted by the long-ago recall.

Even stories about the growing uselessness of cents generates huge pushback by people who generally don’t give their coins a second thought. They wax poetic about the days of penny candy and a need for making change.

Perhaps we collectors can persuade a friendly member of Congress to introduce legislation to outlaw coin collecting.

Would that be a large enough threat to get people to stubbornly take interest in their coins?

Perhaps it is too big a threat.

Maybe we should simply threaten denominations one at a time. Propose to outlaw or abolish cents one month, nickels another and work our way up to the quarter.

We then have to be careful with half dollars and dollars. Legislation to abolish the dollar coin would probably be passed to wide public acclaim. We don’t want to threaten loss of something that people don’t like anyway.

Changing times evoke a sense that things are out of control. If pointing out threats works in the precious metals field, perhaps we should tell people to collect coins or else. We haven’t tried that yet.

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

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