News & Blog

The last Anglo-Saxon king

Posted on Mon, 24 April 2023 by Karen Needs - Coin News


A guiding hand SO, the Harrogate show has come and gone once more and whilst it wasn’t the busiest of fairs (it never is compared to other fairs in Yorkshire, no idea why and I wish more people would support it, if you don’t it won’t be around forever) it was nevertheless enjoyable. Harrogate is a beautiful town and well worth a visit in its own right, and the show is always a friendly one, with a good cross-section of dealers and customers we often don’t see anywhere else. What made this year’s show particularly interesting was the number of young collectors we met. It can’t have escaped your notice, if you regularly attend fairs, that the vast majority of those you see around you are over 40 and they’re usually men too (and yes, I’m making assumptions on that score here, please let’s not go down that route just yet) so it’s a refreshing change to see collectors under 20, and some of them were women/girls too! That collectors are older isn’t difficult to understand, ours isn’t the cheapest of hobbies at times so a little bit of disposable income is handy, and that usually comes with age (why more collectors are men remains a mystery) so it’s always nice to see new, younger faces. At Harrogate most of those we spoke with have come to the hobby through one of two ways, either they started collecting change from their pockets, usually Peter Rabbit and his friends, or they have inherited coins and are hoping to learn more. Some of the young collectors were still collecting the bunnies (and bears, and dinosaurs, and Olympic sports and so on) but others have moved away from new issues; chiefly, apparently, because they aren’t able to collect from change like they used to (many new issues aren’t going into circulation of course) and feel if they are going to have to buy coins they may as well look further than just the modern pieces—one young lady we spoke to has a particular interest in Tudor coinage! Interestingly, whether collecting 50 pence pieces or Henry VIII groats, all the young collectors said the same thing—that they find the hobby rather daunting. I don’t think anyone has been particularly rude or unhelpful to any of them, don’t think any other collectors or dealers have been stand-offish or aloof, it’s just that as youngsters just starting off, they can feel overwhelmed, uncertain, and unwilling to ask questions for fear of coming across as naïve. Those feelings are perfectly natural, any one of us starting off in something new, whether a new school, a new job, a new town or new hobby has felt the same way at some point in our lives and sometimes those feelings of awe and worry have lasted as we were unable to find our feet, find our place as easily as we might have liked, whilst at other times we have slotted in comfortably in our new surroundings—usually thanks to the help of someone older, wiser or more established who has metaphorically held our hand and guided us when we needed it most. So that brings me on to the point of this Comment this month—we really should be holding the hands of these young collectors, encouraging them, showing that the hobby is a friendly, not a daunting place to be—but how? How do we reach these young people who are, after all, the future of numismatics? Unfortunately, traditional routes won’t work in the short term, we can’t encourage them through the pages of this magazine as they won’t be buying this magazine for a while, they (particularly the new issue, collecting from change fans) don’t yet feel that they are serious enough collectors to buy a magazine on the subject and they don’t belong to coin clubs or numismatic societies either for the same reason. It’s that classic Catch 22 situation—they feel daunted by the hobby so won’t join a club but if only they would join a club they’d realise how undaunting it really is! When I asked some of them where they were getting their information and encouragement from, the almost inevitable answer came back “YouTube”—which is all very well until you hear that one young man had only recently learned from a YouTube channel how to thoroughly clean all his coins! In short it seems that in order to get their coin fix the new, young collectors are turning to sources that might be less than helpful (although there are some very good YouTube channels dedicated to coins of course) and before they get disillusioned (or ruin their collections with wire brushes) we older, dare I say wiser, heads need to help—but I just don’t know how. Any ideas gratefully received! In the meantime if you see a young collector at a show, or know of a niece, nephew, grandchild, neighbour who is interested in coins then please do your best to encourage them, show them that we are a friendly bunch really—after all they’ll be the ones looking to buy your collections in years to come when its time for you to sell, so be nice!