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Finding notes and coins fascinating

 A group of children excited by their introduction to numismatics.

A group of children excited by their introduction to numismatics.

By Antoinette (Toni) Rahn

I’m sure you’ve come across people, as I have, who do not understand the fascination with notes and coins. I’ve heard more than a few people attempt to explain the many appealing aspects of collecting and studying the various elements of numismatics. Sometimes they are successful, and other times a glassy-eyed look appears on the face of the person with whom they are speaking.

Case in point: not very long ago, a friend of mine told me about her young son returning home following his summer school elective class with a coin folder and a sleeve containing three notes. She said his excitement was evident the moment he bounded through the door rattling off the facts he learned during the presentation by Mr. G (apparently his last name is a complex name of Polish origin, and he said it’s best to just call him Mr. G). She said her son commanded everyone in the kitchen to sit down and look at the “cool money stuff” he received.

If you are a parent, you can surely relate to the joy my friend was feeling at seeing her son genuinely thrilled about learning and excited to share this with his family. With that being said, she admitted feeling ill equipped to be of much insight if he were to have questions, because this is an arena she neither is familiar with nor finds quite as thrilling as he does.

However, she didn’t have much time to dwell on this, because within an instant her attention shifted to a matter she is all too familiar with: dealing with conflict between her children. Just as her youngest son and budding collector was setting up shop on the kitchen table for his session of “show and tell,” her middle daughter saddled up beside him and made a comment about how “lame” that is, there’s nothing cool about that “money stuff,’ and it’s not sexy.

Although we shared a laugh about this, she said in the moment it tugged at her heart to see the dejected look that crossed her youngest child’s face as he took in his sister’s comments (not to mention the sense of alarm that her next oldest – still a youngster – was speaking about something being sexy or not sexy).

After addressing the commentary and reminded everyone of respectful behavior, the three of them sat down, and her young son shared what he learned from Mr. G. She quickly admitted it was quite interesting. There were stories about banks that were once a big part of what are now ghost towns, tales of gunfighters and lawmen and lost treasures, rebels and colonists, generations of artists who created the designs on notes and coins, and single notes and coins that sell for millions.

“Did you hear me, mom?” her youngest said with enthusiasm, she recalled. “Mr. G said millions. That’s with an M!”

Even her daughter began asking questions of her brother and inspecting the notes he had received. Although it’s highly unlikely, my friend said, that she will embrace this new subject circulating through their home, she did tell her brother that it wasn’t totally not cool and that ghost towns are pretty cool. Upon hearing this, her son’s face lit up, and he continued to inspect the treasures he had received.

That was a couple of weeks ago, and since then they’ve picked up at least five books at the library about coins and notes, added another coin folder to the lot, and have a small album for her son’s growing collection of notes. Plus, he’s been to see Mr. G twice already to talk “money.”

That’s a lot of good to come from an interest many may not understand or think is uncool. However, we, my friend’s young son, and Mr. G know the truth, don’t we?

Editor's Note: Former Editorial Director Antoinette (Toni) Rahn has embarked on a new professional venture. She wishes the Bank Note Reporter readership many great opportunities to enjoy collecting adventures.

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More Collecting Resources

• Order the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, General Issues to learn about circulating paper money from 14th century China to the mid 20th century.

• Start becoming a coin collector today with this popular course, Coin Collecting 101.