Are you up to it?
Volume 41, Number 11, November 2004
This month I am issuing you all, readers, advertisers, Numismatic Societies, Museums all of you, with a challenge – that challenge is quite simply to do the best you can to promote this hobby of ours, to bring Coin Collecting back to the mainstream. Let’s be honest about it most of us are intelligent enough to realise that coin collecting is not as popular as once it was, back in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and into the ‘70s there were tens of thousands of us in schools, in the work place everywhere, all “checking our change”, all looking for that elusive rarity and all eager to add to our collections. Then along came decimalisation and “trendier” hobbies; collecting anything was ousted amongst the young in favour of Dungeons and Dragons and the like and then by video and computer games. Coin Collectors along with their philatelist counterparts (indeed anyone who collected anything) was labelled a bit of a “nerd” and it was no longer fashionable to “check your change” (at least not in public) or admit to knowing anything about flaws, die varieties, mintage figures et al. Our hobby didn’t exactly go underground but certainly it was pushed aside, particularly amongst the young, and for a while it seemed that the numismatist would soon become an endangered species. Things are changing though, as things always do, and the fashions have come full circle. True computer games are still incredibly popular but it is those who rave about the latest release of “Doom” Or “Soldier of Fortune” that are now likely to be labelled nerds and with the plethora of “Bargain Hunt” style television programmes and the huge success of ebay, a perfect market place for small easily posted collectables, collecting is again coming back into fashion. A decade ago you asked someone if they collected anything and they would blush and mumble something under their breath now you ask the same question and people will gladly tell you about their matchboxes, postcards, Cranberry Glass, model trains and so on. Boot sales, markets, the Internet all are booming as collectors come out of the shadows of denial (no I don’t collect a thing, honest) and step blinking into the glare respectability again. It is OK now to be a collector, indeed with “Antiques Roadshow” “Flog It” etc. being thrown at us around the clock it is practically compulsory to collect something, or at least have some knowledge of collectables. If you don’t know your Worcester from your Wedgewood, your Monet from your Manet then you’re almost made to feel inferior these days! Of course “specialists” can get away with knowing nothing about anything except their own subject – a loophole in the unwritten laws of the collector’s hierarchy that us numismatists can thankfully exploit! The point is though that now collecting is fashionable again, now we actually revel in the knowledge we possess, rather than shy away from admitting we possess it, we would like to see coin collecting become again as popular as once it was – but how do we make that happen? That is the challenge I am laying down to you this month – with prices going through the roof, decent items harder and harder to find how do we as a hobby exploit the rediscovered passion for collecting and bring coin collecting back to the position of pre-eminence it once enjoyed? Do we promote it through the schools (I know that the British Association of Numismatic Societies has been doing just this) do we try and promote it through the national press? (after all there is an interest out there – the debacle with the £2 coin with the necklace of the 2pence with the New Pence legend shows us that) or maybe a coin programme along the lines of the US States Quarters is needed? We have our own ideas and with the BNTA’s Coinex move to the Excel Exhibition centre next year we will be taking a much more active role in marketing the hobby, but we need more thoughts – and we need more action, from everybody. It is up to us all to make good use of this collecting Renaissance, up to us all to be ambassadors for our hobby. I await your thoughts, ideas and tales with interest!
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