Volume 50, Number 4, April 2013
A winning way? A FEW months ago I wrote an Editorial piece encouraging local numismatic societies to boost membership, and indeed the hobby in general, by holding “open days” or organising fairs to bring the general public into the fold and teach them more about these funny little pieces of metal and paper that we numismatists and notaphiles are so obsessed with. I am certain that given a little bit of education more people would find coins and notes as fascinating as we do. So far a number of societies have come forward and said they are planning things and the Worthing and District Society has gone one further and are staging their first ever coin fair. The event will take place on Sunday, May 19, at the Chatsworth Hotel, The Steyne, Worthing BN11 3DU and I urge all those collectors in the south east not only to attend but to encourage those who have never been to a coin fair, indeed who may only have a passing interest in coins, to attend too. Now of course, I wouldn’t normally use this “comment” as a blatant advertising slot but as I was the one who first mooted the idea of societies organising such things I feel duty bound to give them a plug here! Of course, I wasn’t the first one to think of a link between societies and fairs, and, as has been pointed out to me a couple of times this year already, a number of clubs and societies are already very active with their local fair. The Yorkshire Numismatic Society, one of the most pro-active around, with their regular newsletter they send out to members, is heavily involved with the York Coin Fair every January and July, and of course in Dublin every year the Irish Numismatic Society takes a table at the popular coin and stamp fair and is always a great attraction (so too does COIN NEWS). This year they had a superb “A-Z of Numismatics” aimed purely at those people attending the fair who were new to the hobby. From the response seen at the table such a display, and the knowledge of those manning the table, was very welcome and those who took the trouble to actually ask questions and study what was on offer went from being just curious to being actively interested. Many who attended the Dublin show did so specifically to sell coins—that is always the way at this particular show, especially on the Sunday, and critics of the “Open Day” idea have pointed out that many members of the public will use such events purely as free valuation days and that they will have no real interest in numismatics but rather how much they can get for their jam-jar full of pennies. But is that so bad? Surely everybody has to start somewhere and what better way to start than by finding out that the 1905 shilling is worth more than its 1906 counterpart, or that had you taken that silver 1944 threepence as a present from your grandmother rather than the fun-looking brass one from the same year, you would actually have a far more collectable coin? There is nothing wrong with people wanting to know “what it’s worth” and half the collectors in the world have that interest as a central premise to their collecting habits. So when I see people flooding into the Dublin venue to get valuations and to sell their coins, I know that some of them at least will leave a little more interested in the hobby. So I wish the Worthing and District Numismatic Society well and I applaud the efforts of the respective societies at York and Dublin and apologise to those of you who do similar things who I have overlooked. However, to those of you who have yet to organise something or have yet to take a table at your local show, I ask “what’s stopping you?”. So the public treat it like a big free valuation day and only bring in coins to dispose of. But don’t look at that as a bad thing. At the very worst you’ll get a chance to add to your collections; at the best you’ll encourage a whole new batch of collectors. Win/win I think!
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