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Viewpoint: Hobby Should Appeal to All

By George Kissinger

After reading the fine Viewpoint article by a YN in the May 12 issue, several key points came into focus. First, that Young Numismatist was articulate and sincere. His points are well taken.

Significantly, I noted that his parents were not in the hobby. This struck me, as children learn from, and are greatly influenced by, their parents. So it isn’t just young people that need to be introduced to coins – it is all ages, and at least two generations. This interest has to be organic. By that I mean the coins that people come into contact with on a day-to-day basis have to generate their own interest.

The Mint has worked with the hobby (capital “H”) in good faith to force such interest, but that effort has been unsuccessful, as it ignores human nature. There can be no real interest when there are 75 or more different designs of quarters circulating (50 state quarters alone) with new versions sure to come out every year when the designs themselves are contrived results of “competitions,” the artistic execution and strikes are mediocre and, when dropped, they ring like a washer fallen out of a plumber’s back pocket.

Now ask, what brought coin collecting to its heights with the baby boomer generation? First, there were still obsolete coins to be found in circulation and a fun challenge to find. Second, those obsolete designs were classic and represented the ideals of Liberty that everyone could identify with. Third, the dime, quarter, and half dollar coins had intrinsic value at 90 percent silver.

What can be done about all of this? Bring back classic designs. Under our very noses is the reintroduced Walking Liberty design success. For example, bring that design back as a circulating 90 percent silver coin (one-third ounce), the size of a half dollar, but monetized as a $10 coin. Make sure the old design is executed in exact detail and with the appropriate relief and strike. Along similar lines, the Standing Liberty design comes to mind as a circulating 90 percent silver coin (one-fifth ounce), the size of a quarter, but monetized as a $5 coin. These coins would both serve the public purpose of providing circulating money for commerce (even with paper $10 and $5 dollar bills in competition) and be collectable, creating interest and excitement again for the hobby.

One last point. This YN who wrote such a fine article was collecting currency that had no intrinsic value. He astutely found that a person could become a trillionaire and still not be able to buy a loaf of bread. A very good life lesson for all of us.

This “Viewpoint” was written by George Kissinger, a collector from Spooner, Wis.

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