Volume 49, Number 11, November 2012
Open House? THERE are a few subjects that dominate my “Comments” in any given year: one is high prices paid at auction (and with the recent record set at Baldwin’s I could easily do the same again this month); another is the future of our hobby with regard to encouraging new collectors and a third the fate of numismatic societies in the UK. I make no apologies this time around for rolling the latter two subjects together and I do crave your indulgence once again… Last month Phil was the guest of the Exeter and District Numismatic Society giving his “I have got Coin News for you” talk—the subject of the Royal Mint lecture at the BANS Congress in 2010 and a number of numismatic society evenings since. In essence, the 45-minute talk comprises a short history of COIN NEWS and Token Publishing Ltd, from its humble origins as a two person company based above a plumber’s shop in Hampshire, to today’s 14-strong team in palatial surroundings of a penthouse in London’s Mayfair (OK I may have fibbed about that, we are actually on an industrial estate in Devon but we do employ 14 people). The history lesson is followed by a “State of the Hobby” address taking a look at how numismatic societies can help turn the hundreds of thousands of people with an interest in coins into “real” numismatists. This is inevitably followed by a discussion amongst the Society members and whilst some of the suggestions that get bandied about may not work, others are eminently sensible. At the Exeter and District Society meeting one member suggested that a clear way to encourage both new members and new collectors was to hold a valuation and open day/evening—persuading all those people who have jars of coins left to them by grandparents, etc., to come in and be told both the history of the coins (which actually people find fascinating once they get beyond the slightly geeky image) and the value of what they have. It was considered at the very least that members could warn those with standard “Vicky Sovs” that what they had was worth considerably more than the shyster “We Buy your gold” booths would be offering. This idea was met with full approval by all present and hopefully sometime in the Spring/Summer of 2013 the E&DNS will find itself the centre of attention as hordes descend with their hoards—we shall see. This suggestion by our local society —which I believe to be an excellent one—got me thinking, if Exeter can do it then why can’t every other Society in the country? Every single Society has in its members enough knowledge of the various different coins/token/notes that make up our interesting hobby to be able to field any question put to them, and whilst not every Society has dealers within its ranks even the amateurs will be able to take a good guess at value, and if they can’t they will at least have a library between then that can come to their rescue. So here is my suggestion: all you Society secretaries out there, talk to your members, set yourselves a date and get a valuation day/open day organised. Wouldn’t it be great if we could co-ordinate them all to fall within the same couple of weeks? If you can organise it, then we’ll publicise it for you . . . we will put publicity within COIN NEWS, yes, but we will go further too—we can produce press releases, contact the media (local and national) and really go to town on it. Some years ago the BNTA together with the Royal Mint, organised “National Coin Week”. It was a great idea which somehow never took off, but now, with the renewed interest in “what’s it worth” TV (as demonstrated by the plethora of “Flog It/Bargain Hunt” style programmes), the huge upsurge in the “We buy your gold” outfits, the ongoing recession and new forms of communication that make publicity of such things so much easier, I believe the time has come to try again. So, if you’re interested in hosting an “Open Day”, if you think you can get your members on board, then now is the time to start thinking about it. Late May or early June would be an ideal time to hold such events but the planning has to start now. We are right behind you, but ultimately it has to be up to you. Let us know what you think . . .!
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