Coins of Auguste
Volume 47, Number 10, October 2010
An old chestnut WHAT on earth was that? Ah yes, that was summer 2010 and as the nights draw on, the weather gets colder (not that it ever really warmed up much) and as the Christmas cards start appearing in the shops we numismatists can look forward to the start of another “new season”. Admittedly the days of July and August being quiet in our hobby are long gone and fairs and auctions still abound over the summer months, but as the August bank holiday fades into distant memory and people start putting their serious “work heads” back on (for a couple of months before Yuletide at least!), there is always a feeling that autumn is very much “our time”. There’s Coinex of course, always the traditional start to the new numismatic year, with a host of excellent auctions with all the major houses eager to get you to part with your hard-earned cash, and the launch of the new price guides and catalogues—our own COIN YEARBOOK will be hitting the shelves in early October after a Coinex launch with over 2,000 pre-ordered and the promise of a bumper year to come (we’ve increased the pagination again whilst keeping the price at just £9.95 making it beyond doubt the best value price guide on the market). This year however it won’t only be us old style collectors looking forward to the autumn as the Royal Mint’s promised Olympic 50p series is due to be launched very soon and, as I have mentioned before, having seen these coins I can pretty much guarantee that they will soon disappear, squirrelled away by those who have no idea they are even coin collectors. And that brings me to the point of this Comment. Yes, I’ve spoken about this before but I think it relevant so forgive me if I bring it up again. Basically we are a fairly close community us collectors and I know that when I visit Coinex, The London Coin Fair, the Leeds show or Birmingham this autumn I will see many of the same people I see every time; that’s no bad thing of course, many of them are old friends and we enjoy catching up, but it is rare to find too many brand new faces in the crowd. Of course there are always some new people, but on the whole I’ll recognise the majority, they will be collectors of long standing, long term readers of COIN NEWS who have watched the hobby, and this magazine, go from strength to strength —in short, people like yourself! That’s great in one way—any hobby needs a bedrock of dedicated followers to keep it going and without you numismatics would have gone the way of the telephone card! But we need new people too and that’s where the problem lies. We know that the Royal Mint has over 100,000 people on its mailing list—people who buy coins regularly. We also know that come the autumn and the release of the Olympic 50 pences, most will vanish as people try to complete the set. We know that coins are newsworthy and that they interest people—you only have to look at the stories surrounding the “undated” 20p or the fake £1 coins or the fact that such respected institutions as the BBC and the Daily Telegraph are even reporting on the potential new composition of our coins (see page 10). That all being the case why don’t we see hundreds of new people coming into the hobby every month? Why is the circulation of COIN NEWS not 100,000 plus (well I can dream can’t I?). Why don’t we see more new faces at coin shows than familiar ones? Quite simply because those people on the Mint’s mailing list, those people who squirrel away the commemorative issues, those people who soak up the news reports so avidly, those people who phone into radio shows every time a coin expert appears would never, ever consider themselves to be coin collectors. But why not? Why don’t they take what is already an interest and take it further? It’s something I simply cannot work out. You could blame us—say we’re not doing enough to attract new collectors; blame the societies and tell them they are too dry and set in their ways to attract new members; blame the dealers and explain to them that they should be encouraging those just starting out as much as those with big money to spend and you might be right. But it isn’t as simple as that. You aren’t going to get these fledgling collectors to buy COIN NEWS or visit a local coin club or even coin fair simply because they don’t consider themselves to be in the same bracket as the people who do. They don’t think of themselves as collectors at all and whilst they may well visit on-line forums from time to time, they often do so simply to find out the value of their coins or find out where they might acquire something they are missing—rarely do they think of themselves in the same way as the others who take part. How then can we persuade them that the act of bringing coins together in a collection makes them a collector? How can we persuade them that they are just like us (whether they like it or not!) and that if they were only to take a more active part in the hobby they could find it very rewarding? I’ve lost count of the number of times people tell me they have coins at home but wouldn’t dream of thinking of themselves as a “collector” —how on earth can we get around that? If you have any ideas please do drop me a line—it’s a problem that’s been on my mind for some time now and, quite frankly it’s beginning to annoy me!
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