Coin News

Volume 36, Number 12, December 1999

Whither now?

Volume 36, Number 12, December 1999

FINALLY we are here - the last magazine of the last year of the last century of the second Millennium (again apologies to those who won't be celebrating until this time next year) and following last month's look at your numismatic favourites of the past (we are still counting the votes, don't forget to send yours in) it is perhaps time to ask "where now" for this hobby of ours? Where will it be at the turn of the next century? The most imminent change we are likely to see in the first few years of the next century is the introduction of the Euro- regardless of the bluff and bluster of politicians from all sides this new coinage often looks inevitable, but will that make a difference to our hobby? Back in the 'sixties we saw a surge in the popularity of coin collecting as the onset of decimalisation led to people examining more closely the small change they were so used to and, for good or ill, hoarding vast quantities "for posterity"-will that happen again if our "own" coinage is threatened in favour of the single currency (in what ever form that may come)? Will we again see the popularity of the late 'sixties/ early 'seventies or has our attitude to coins and notes so changed in the last thirty years that their passing will barely be noted? Modern technology has advanced immeasurably in the last three decades and that has had a profound effect on the way we view the money in our pockets-credit and debit cards, the new Mondex system and the advance of computer banking means that fewer and fewer of us deal in good old-fashioned cash and the role of coins and bank notes in our society is slowly diminishing. Technology buffs tell us that we are heading towards a totally cashless society with everything done via microchips, smart cards and "e-commerce"-far-fetched maybe but it is a scenario far more possible today as we come to the close of 1999 than ever before. What was once only science fiction is now everyday fact and a world without coins or bank notes, strange though that might seem, is suddenly a very real alternative. Such a change is unlikely to affect our hobby in the short term but in a hundred, two hundred years who knows? After all it is unlikely that we would have as many collectors as we do now if coinage had died out in Victorian times. Of course such a move towards technological alternatives to money might very well boost the hobby as coins and bank notes cease to be everyday objects in the mind of the public and take on a new role as curios of a bygone age-attracting a new breed of collectors accordingly. Then there is the other alternative-that technology is used not to do away with the money in our pocket but enhance it. New advances have already brought us bi-metallic coins, latent images, holograms on coins and notes, uncreasable polymer, ultra-violet security, coloured coins and much more-who is to say that the advances of the 21st century won't bring even more incredible changes and with them an increased interest in the coins and notes they help shape. All such predictions are of course pure conjecture and only time will tell what future this, or any other hobby, has, for now we will content ourselves with the knowledge that whatever happens the first few years of the new Millennium promise to be very interesting indeed. .

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