By Bob Miller
I wanted to contact you as a subscriber that has gotten back into the hobby after a nearly four-decade hiatus. I started remembering my childhood involvement with coins when I used to visit my local hobby shop, usually for models to make and baseball cards to buy, sell and trade. But I always went over to the glass cases near the back walls to look at the older silver half dollars and dollar coins. My fascination was the heavier feel of the coins (pre-1965) and the different sound when they clanged in a bag or when taken out to review. I pictured myself as a pirate with my treasure chest as I counted my pieces of eight, a parrot on my shoulder, too.
My first score was the silver run in the early 1980s, when my hobby shop owner friend who worked in the same area as my mom, told her that all those Franklins were worth $30-$40 more from the average $5 I spent from my allowance. I sold 25 of them to buy baseball cards that I later parlayed into college tuition payments and text books for two years!
It was conveyed in the articles about youth involvement from the writers and then readers that not enough youth outreach occurs in the industry. It seems the coin dealers (as was the industry name in the 1970s) gravitate to the older, more affluent Baby Boomers. Your magazine reads as an industry magazine that is not attractive to a younger audience. Basically, if you are going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk.
What do I mean from that last sentence above? You as an industry leader need to organize (maybe you have and are in the process) to use your platforms to spur more young hobby enthusiasts. Calling it “Numismatics” is too long to spell for a young kid or even to say! I hope you would agree with me. Your magazine and website could serve as marketing campaigns for children’s participation. Maybe you could have a monthly crossword puzzle, trivia questions and a cheap membership for a kid’s collecting coin club.
You have many dealers (such as Littleton or Heritage Auctions) that might even sponsor this effort for the distribution of membership offers and contest winners. Maybe a non-profit ID could be taken out for tax deductions. You could also have a monthly essay or coin find column from kids, naturally a club member would receive recognition. Also, it could be a good source of publicity for you and any of the partners/sponsors.
I’ve given you some ideas for possible youth outreach led by your magazine. Sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is, or so the saying goes. But, that feeling I had as a kid of the feel of the coin, that “clink” sound still resonates in me. I now collect my silver Kennedy and Franklin half dollars, a few dollars and add the gold 2 pesos from Mexico. See, for me, the hobby of coin collecting always brings me back to my childhood, as that pirate on a beach with his pieces of 8, that eventually will add more wealth.
If you notice, I could care less about the dates, mint designations or the grades. I like to read your history articles. I grew up a poor to middle-class kid whose single mother had to work two jobs to keep a roof over our heads and food on tables every night. I just did not realize my social status because of the hobby shop that sold bright silver coins with a colonial founding father hero of mine.
I believe that kids have to have dreams and symbols to make them real. I also had coin books for pennies, nickels and dimes. But, I drifted away in my interest in those coins. However, the memories from my imagination stayed with me for my whole life.
Please, either make an upgrade to your media platforms to promote youth collection programs, or give up your attempts. You can be more than just an industry magazine to sell coins and to list companies. I think innovative content where an insert with fun facts, membership details with contests can be given to kids by the readers of this magazine. Also, your website can have the ability to download this information. Think of an older subscriber giving their grandchildren, niece or nephew, friend’s child or a neighbor’s kid this information for interest or a paid yearly Coin Kids’ Club as a gift or a way to channel that desire to get the next generation involved and interested in coins.
I hope that I do not waste your time with my letter. I have been thinking about this issue since the articles first appeared about the lack of youth hobby participation.