Looking to the future...
Volume 44, Number 6, June 2007
Congratulations go out to the winners of our “Junior Collector” Competition which first appeared in the October 2006 edition and was made possible thanks to the generous donations by reader Geoff Simms. The standard of entries was exceptionally high and the First Prize winner, 12-year-old Jerome Luchesa Smith beat of some stiff competition with his explanation of what he would spend the prize money on (his entry is reproduced on page 73). At COIN NEWS we were very impressed by all the entrants but we can’t help wishing there had been a few more of them. Don’t get me wrong . . . there were dozens of entries and the winners really did have a fight on their hands to secure their positions but, when you take into account that COIN NEWS sells 10,000 magazines a month, we had hoped for hundreds rather than dozens of “essays” dropping through our door. Now the cynics amongst you might point to the internet and say that the younger generation don’t read magazines very much and that their creative input will be found on-line. That may be true to a certain extent but, if you surf the web and visit any one of the plethora of forums, chat rooms, etc., that are coin related, I am afraid that you won’t find too much in the way of input from anyone still at school. The sad fact of the matter is that there just aren’t as many junior collectors out there as we may wish. There is not just one reason for this but many, some of which we can do little about. The fact that coin collecting (along with collecting stamps, postcards or any of the more “traditional” hobbies) simply isn’t that “trendy” is out of our hands—the politics of the playground mean that we have no influence there. The fact that computer games and other pastimes that we could never dream of when we were children now seem to occupy all the spare time is not something we can change. The fact that some coins are simply unaffordable to young collectors is, I am afraid, a simple fact of life and again we can do little about it. But the fact that there seems little to encourage “new blood”—in fact little help available for the junior members of our hobby—is perhaps something we should all take a long hard look at. The one thing that came through loud and clear from many junior collectors who entered our competition (and some who didn’t but just wanted their opinions heard) is that they feel isolated within our hobby. They often feel intimidated at shows, fearing to take up a dealer’s time with their £5 pocket money when it’s clear he would prefer to talk to the man behind who is proffering a fistful of fifties! They feel out of their depth at society meetings, scared to question the numismatic jargon that is bandied about, and too afraid to ask what they fear others will see as the most basic of questions. They don’t attend auctions as they simply don’t have that sort of money and they don’t understand the language of the more useful but undoubtedly more “serious” textbooks. They aren’t at “I Spy” level—they know what a farthing or shilling was but they aren’t serious numismatists yet. The sad thing is they may never be. Certainly you can understand why a dealer wouldn’t have time to talk to a “kid” when a “serious” customer wanting to buy a £1,000 coin is just behind him. You can see why society members, who may only meet once every two months, don’t want to spend their precious coin time explaining basics, and you can understand authors, whose books will only be printed in 10s not 1000s, when they pitch their language at the experts who are prepared to pay £100 plus for a copy of the work, rather than at a younger reader who may only be able to view a copy in a library. But ultimately whilst the actions and attitudes of all of us more “serious” numismatists are understandable, they are not any good for the future of the hobby. We need to do our best to encourage the youngsters like Jerome and the other winners. Only then will this hobby of ours see out the 21st century. Just how we do that I don’t know. Do you?
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