Volume 42, Number 6, June 2005
Having recently returned from giving a talk on “Production of a Coin Magazine” at the Worthing and District Numismatic Society I was both pleased and surprised by the enthusiasm of the members who attended, all were dedicated collectors and many were long term members, all keen to ensure that their society continued to thrive. The Society meets regularly, offers it’s members a good range of speakers who, throughout the course of the year manage to cover just about every numismatic topic available, and without fail advertises its programme within the pages of this magazine – ideal you might think, they must be doing well, and indeed they are – by the standards of many Numismatic Societies in this country they are doing exceptionally well. But as I stood their talking to what I was assured was a very good turn out, I couldn’t help wondering why I wasn’t talking to a packed house when in fact I was facing a room of less than twenty. Don’t misunderstand me, I would just as happily have spoken to a mere handful - the numbers who actually attended my talk are irrelevant and the sort of the figures I quote really are “standard” for Societies these days - both myself and Philip our Marketing Manager have spoken to groups of similar numbers and fewer in the past so I was under no illusions that I’d suddenly be addressing a huge crowd but I couldn’t help but ponder as to why this might be. Worthing has a huge catchment area of collectors, I know from our own database of those who regularly subscribe to COIN NEWS or have purchased a coin publication from us in recent months that all over West and East Sussex and Kent there are hundreds of coin collectors, and that’s not even counting the dozens of magazines we sell in the newsagents of Brighton, Worthing et al - the names of the purchasers of which we’ll never know. A rough estimate, based on the above figures, puts the number of collectors within 30 minutes drive from where the Society meets at over 600 – and that’s not counting the (admittedly very few) who don’t buy one of our magazines or books - so where were they all?! Of course Worthing is by no means unique, the Birmingham Society is another one that does all the right things, advertises where it should, gets a good selection of speakers in etc etc and yet they too are lucky if they get a regular attendance in double figures, despite meeting smack bang in the middle of Britain’s second city – this is a pattern repeated at every society in every town across the country. We roughly know how many collectors there are in the UK, and we also know how many are “visible” collectors i.e. attend the shows and their local numismatic society meetings- and the two numbers are very very different but why? Why do you (and I speak now to the vast majority of our readers who don’t attend society meetings) not want to join a numismatic society in your local area? You are collectors of coins or banknotes, you enjoy your hobby so why do you not want to spend a couple of hours once a month with others who share your interests? Certainly there will always be times when attendance is impossible and no society is going to worry if you miss a meeting or three but most collectors will happily carry on in their hobby without even considering joining such a group, regardless of when they can attend and that is something that we are immensely puzzled by. On the surface there is no logical reason for this reticence – after all you will be in the company of others who share your interests, it’s only for a few hours a month and you may well learn a great deal but such arguments never seem to work and the membership of societies continues to dwindle. There will, we are sure, come a time when many numismatic societies simply cease to be and that can only be a loss to our hobby and we really don’t want to see that happen. We always try to do our best to promote the groups that have been, for many years, the backbone of the hobby and will continue to print any society programmes secretaries send in to us – we have also decided to present a trophy for the best Society exhibition at COINEX this year (see News and Views for further details) maybe bringing in the element of competition, as present in the philatelic world, will encourage some more new members to get involved – but we would ask readers to do their bit to, go along to a meeting once in a while, get yourselves involved – if only when I next give a talk!
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