By Bernie Malis
Wow! That’s the closest word in my vocabulary that can fully describe the generosity of our Bay Cities Coin Club members in supplying coins and tokens for our National Coin Week’s display at our local library. Some were donations for the kids and some to put out on display. The target of our display was to mainly show children how interesting coin and currency collecting can be. Our display aimed at showing examples of “Money in the Military.”
When I asked for donations for this event, our members graciously opened up their hearts with donations of wheat back cents from the 1910s through the 1950s, Buffalo nickels, 1943 steel cents, wooden nickels, Mardi Gras tokens (very popular with children because of their large size and brilliant colors), Shell game tokens, the small plastic mint tokens that come with mint sets and much more.
We selected our local library where our club meets each month in order to be able to talk with local children about our display. We had a large Civil War display with Confederate notes, broken bank notes and individual states notes. We displayed Civil War tokens and store cards, bullets, shot, buckels and more.
From there we displayed four notes from the WWI era, discussed the beautiful artwork on the back of the notes and had an article of recent tokens based on the sinking of the Lusitania.
We then displayed multiple Military Payment Certificates and Hawaii overstamped notes in $1, $10 and $20 denominations with brown seals. We also displayed a North Africa emergency note with a yellow seal. Most kids had never seen these before and asked why they were printed that way.
From there we displayed a Mint State set of five steel cents, three 40 percent silver war nickels, a Peace dollar and more.
We could only get the library area we needed Monday through Wednesday. We set up in time for school to let out at 3 p.m. and went until 7 p.m. in order to get some adult traffic as well. It’s amazing how we could capture the kids’ attention for upwards of 30 minutes with our discussions and explanations of what they were looking at. One little lady spent over an hour with us!
At the end of our venture, we had run out of Buffalo nickels (the first to go), steel cents, Mardi Gras tokens and 1910s-1930s cents.
Our efforts yielded seven email addresses from parents interested in coming to our meetings with their children. I am sending them a copy of our newsletter, and they took a copy of our recently published brochure. Two people wanted to become club members on the spot, but I suggested that they attend a meeting first in order to assure themselves that we have members that they would like to associate with (no problem here!). Several other adults were highly interested in attending a meeting and others took our brochure for other family members that like to collect coins.
In summary, I’d like to leave you with this thought. Although this was a lot of work for a few, we came away with much more than we gave. If you as a collector would like to see more youth become collectors and keep your collection from fading out like stamps and baseball cards, then consider what you can do by yourself, or more importantly with your club, in order to show them the interesting aspects and joys of collecting. Displays can be put out anytime of the year, not just at special occasions. You’d be amazed how big the kids’ eyes can get and the smiles they give you when explaining the fun aspects of collecting!
This “Viewpoint” was written by Bernie Malis, president of the Bay Cities Coin Club, El Segundo, Calif.
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