The Santa Maria Coin Club (SMCC) held its annual one-day spring coin show Oct. 19 at the Elwin Mussell Senior Center in Santa Maria, Calif.
A special public outreach draw was the premiere of “The Coin Experience Learning Zone,” developed and hosted on-site by Walt Ostromecki, past president of the American Numismatic Association.
The numismatic highlight in the hands-on zone were two 2019 W-mintmark America the Beautiful quarters: one a Massachusetts example and the other a Northern Mariana Islands example. The two circulation specimens were presented to Ostromecki during the National Coin Week kickoff celebration held jointly by the U.S. Mint and the ANA.
The knowledge-seeking public enjoyed looking over the numerous coin and currency displays. Their biggest thrill was learning about the special “W” America the Beautiful quarters being sporadically released throughout 2019 into circulation, according to Ostromecki.
“The U.S. Mint’s idea behind the special release of W-mint quarters was to generate interest in the coin hobby and encourage them to search their change for examples,” said Ostromecki. “The ANA focus was introducing the fun and educational history of coins to current non-collectors nationwide – an outreach means to attract more individuals of all ages into coin collecting hobby and coin club membership.”
The debut of the free public coin zone was widely publicized throughout Santa Maria and neighboring cities throughout central California. Several free coin giveaway cards were handed out to all current non-collector show visitors, young people, and families. Examples of the educational coin cards included a 1943 Steel cent history card, a 2017-P Lincoln cent card, elongated cent card, and 2019-P Lincoln cents.
Linda Nash, SMCC president, estimated that more than a hundred current non-coin collectors came to the club’s show “… to learn and buy coins and currency of all types.”
When asked about the reasons for their longevity, Nash replied, “We have maintained our coin club meetings focused primarily on teaching and enriching our members and guests with coin knowledge. We were founded on that premise. These are the expectations needed to attract new potential lifelong hobbyists and new club members of all ages in today’s digital age. This has been the secret behind our longevity and steady membership growth.”
Nash went on to say, “Our entire membership has made a pledge not to become a social club for the 60-and-over crowd like so many others. Today’s coin hobby has dramatically changed over the years. It is not at all like our fathers’. Nor are the educational outreach needs for clubs because of the internet. We have to use a different approach today and into the future or fade away into history.”
Nash explained the specifics of the club’s educational programming.
“We provide monthly programs for members and guests on such topics as coin grading basics, how to buy coins, counterfeit identification, estate planning, etc.,” she said. “These adopted ANA-generated programs are the mainstays which continue to bring in our members and attract curious visitors to come to meetings and grow in the fun coin hobby with us!”
She reports a thriving, active membership base.
“Our average meeting attendance is in the high 50s, with at least two or three first-time visitors who come back and eventually join our coin club,” said Nash. “We also have an idea exchange program about our growth success programs with numerous clubs nationwide, especially in Florida. The latter were amazed as to what our success ideas can do to boost club attendance and promote growth. And, they had the courage to give them [a try] and are now reaping success. A cultural change has made the difference.”
The club’s next show is scheduled for April 18, 2020, in Santa Maria, Calif. More information about the show and club meetings can be found online at www.santamariacoinclub.com or by calling Ken Wolf at (805) 260-3113.