By Matthew Andrews
In the recent issues of Numismatic News, there have been many articles expressing views of the state of the coin collecting hobby. All have been depressing, to say the least. Comments range from the need to mentor young collectors to sustain collecting, to the hobby is on its death bed. I guess this is an easy conclusion to come to when you go to a coin show and see what looks to be a gathering of 45-70 year-old men, shuffling around tables like it’s the early bird special at the local Country Buffet. The fact is, in my opinion, that the optics portrayed at your local coin store and yearly coin shows do not reflect the true demographics of numismatics in the 21st century.
If you want to find where your average Millennial spends a ton of free time, look no further than their mobile device and social media. It has become a part of everyday life, on equal footing as putting one’s shoes on. I am 34 years old, and I find myself checking Facebook and Instagram multiple times a day to keep up with friends and family.
One day it struck me, I wonder if there are any coin-related accounts on Instagram that would be interesting to check out. I was stunned to say the least. I found thousands of accounts relating to numismatics and precious metals, and they were all run by young people. I instantly made an account of my own. I quickly realized that at the age of 34, I was one of the eldest amongst the group, and some of these guys had some very nice coins. It was amazing to see the passion and knowledge portrayed by these 15-25 year-old collectors, and this grew the passion I held for the hobby exponentially.
If you were looking for a certain Jefferson war nickel in MS-67 graded by NGC, just make a post and there will be numerous people competing for the sale or trade. Along with showing off your favorite items in your collection, it’s a true marketplace for growing your portfolio of awesome coins.
I quickly realized that in the digital age, this is where the youth of the hobby is, and it is thriving!
Like I said earlier, coin shows and local coin stores have become relics in the minds of Millennials. As with many industries, brick-and-mortar stores are quickly becoming obsolete in the age of the Internet. This is no different with the hobby of collecting coins. The older generation is the purest. They don’t use online banking; they want the personable service of a face-to-face transaction and the bank. They won’t pay their bills online; they like to go to the Post Office and catch up on the town gossip. And when it comes to buying coins, they would rather take a trip to the town convention center and spend the day browsing around.
In the case of the Millennials, they would rather surf eBay in their underpants with a bag of chips on their belly.
This isn’t a knock on either generation; it’s just a fact.
And on Internet sites such as eBay, numismatic items are being sold by the tens of thousands each week. All one has to do is a quick search for any denomination of coin out there. Morgan dollar: 127,000 search results. Lincoln cent: 89,000 search results. If the hobby is dying out with the younger generation, who is posting all these coins for sale? Grandpa? Could be, but I think not.
My point is, the next time you see an article about how coin collecting is going the way of the dinosaurs, remember that there are other mediums out there other than coin shows and stores where items can be attained. Young people will always find new ways to interact with others who share their same interest. And with the electronic age in full swing, it’s easier than ever to find an online forum or marketplace to discuss and sell numismatics.
This “Viewpoint” was written by Matthew Andrews, a hobbyist from Ellerslie, Ga.
Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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More Collecting Resources
• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-2000 is your guide to images, prices and information on coinage of the 1900s.
• Purchase your copy of The Essential Guide to Investing in Precious Metals today to get started on making all the right investing decisions.