Coin Clubs have vanished just the way movie theaters, phone booths and some local newspapers have, but not for the same reasons. The Internet, cell phones and advanced technology of television are the primary reasons, but coin clubs had a few other reasons. True, the internet and e-bay may be primary reasons some individuals have decided not to join a club, but club losses began before the internet became a routine household item.
An April 1975 Numismatic News publication that lists all coin clubs by state as well as foreign countries has been part of my library for a long time as occasionally I’ve used it to search out a coin club’s history. In 1975, 67 clubs were listed in my state of New Jersey. Today, 33 years later, there are 18.
Nationally, in 1975, there were 1,986 active coin clubs. Unfortunately, the only document I have to compare that figure is the ANA club membership total of 499 clubs listed as active ANA member clubs. One could estimate another 200 clubs are not ANA members, but I would hope not that many. This is over a 60 percent loss in just over 30 years.
A review of a few other heavily populated states reveals that California went from 173 to 59 clubs, Pennsylvania from 139 to 30, Ohio from 124 to 22, New York from 115 to 21 and Illinois from 109 to 21. Current club totals are ANA member clubs while the totals in 1975 were all clubs listed by Numismatic News, regardless of any other affiliation. As a matter of fact, just to show how active club organizations were during that time-frame, the news reported, “New coin clubs are being organized every week” in their venture to receive current club information. This is a far cry from today’s new club listings.
Where did they all go? Most of you that have been part of coin clubs over the years can clearly understand what has happened. Clearly, clubs fold due to lack of membership. Members either passed on, moved or lacked further interest. I was a member of clubs in New Egypt and Manasquan, N.J. that did just that and others have told me the same thing happened to clubs they were a part of. I can also see other clubs nearing a demise for the same reason. One might blame the Internet as the reason since so much information can be obtained from a computer along with on-line bidding. This can be partly to blame, however, the loss of over 60 clubs in New Jersey occurred prior to the internet explosion.
What can clubs do now? That depends on the club leadership as to how aggressive they are in recruiting new members and retaining those they have. Leaders must recognize they are not there forever and replacements are necessary to continue club activities.
Tips on club troubles are available on line at the ANA Web site. Under the section called “Club Trouble", you will find the article by Bill Fivaz “Is your club in need of a transfusion?” It covers everything you need to know to improve membership, participation, finances, recruiting, YN programs, etc.
Coin club members are volunteers and have responsibilities of family, employment, etc, however, members should realize to reap benefits of club membership, there are also requirements to make that extra effort to keep it going. Coin clubs provide speakers, on-site auctions, show and tells, social events, personal contact and friendship and some, YN programs. This is everlasting camaraderie that you won’t find on the internet.
No club in your area? Why not start one of your own? Find a location such as a library or church room and send a short article to a few local papers advising you would like to start a coin club. Drop me a line at 65 16th St., Toms River, NJ 08753 and I’ll send you a pamphlet on recruiting and retention of YN’s.
Jim Majoros is a hobby volunteer from Toms River, N.J.
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