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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 25, June 18, 2006, Article 24

BARRY JABLON ON THE FUTURE OF COIN COLLECTING

Barry Jablon writes: "What I have been thinking about lately was
the impact which people like Ernie Kraus and others had on me.
After all, my coin career lasted for only five years. By the time
I was twenty years old, I was already in the air force heading for
a new career in signals intelligence in England. At twenty-four I
was at Temple University on the G.I. bill and at twenty-eight, I
was teaching in a Bucks County suburb of Philadelphia, and was
married.

What I think about often is how the young kids of today are going
to get started in coin collecting. If a parent or another relative
doesn't give an already started collection to a child, how else
will they know the fun of coin collecting?  It didn't take a lot
of money to get started in coin collecting in the "olden days".
Rolls of dimes were about half Mercuries and half Roosevelts with
a couple of Morgans thrown in every now and then. There were plenty
of early S and D cents in most rolls. And, if you didn't want to
be a "hole filler" as Ernie Kraus used to call them, then you could
always obtain quantities of foreign coins for a small amount of
money and start trying to complete a coin from every country in
the world.

I recall with great pleasure the memories of Saturday afternoons,
walking up and down the back streets of old Philadelphia near the
old Reading Terminal, stopping in the coin stores or the antique
stores and asking to look through their accumulations of coins
trying to find that special coin which you could buy for the price
of the $5.00 which you had in you pocket.

Today, everything is encapsulated or priced so high that only the
very wealthy can afford the hobby. Where are the young collectors
of tomorrow going to come from? I'm almost sixty-five now and
still dream about the days, fifty years ago, when numismatics was
truly a hobby for everyone."

[While it's true that the days of finding Barber coins in circulation
or uncovering hoards of Flying Eagle cents are over, I'm not so sure
the outlook for the hobby is so bleak.  Things are different to be
sure, but the hobby marches on.

One of the most satisfying things I do with my hobby today (aside
from editing The E-Sylum, of course) is organizing the Coins4Kids
meetings for the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists.  Looking
out over a room filled with 100 or more interested and appreciative
kids and parents, one can't help but feel that there is promise for
the future.

The Fifty States Quarter program and other modern commemoratives
have certainly driven a resurgence in interest in coinage, and the
Internet and cheap color imaging have done a lot to spread awareness
and knowledge of numismatics far beyond the pre-Internet realm.  But
I wouldn't despair that nothing affordable is left to collect.

I remember getting the same sort of feeling two decades ago when I
first got seriously interested numismatics.  I had read a lot and
researched coin prices, and concluded that yes, I had indeed been
born too late.  The Lou Eliasbergs, John Fords and John Pittmans
of the world had already bought everything up.  Pity poor me who
had nothing affordable left to collect.

But after I thought about it for a while and put things in historical
perspective, I realized that when those collectors were my age, they
probably thought the same about the generation that preceded THEM.
Damn, the Byron Reeds and Col. Greens of the world had gotten there
first and bought everything up.  And prices were so high, how could
anyone afford to collect real coins anymore?

Well, I found the right way to look at things is like this: I may
have been born too late, but I'm twenty or forty years ahead of
everyone who comes along after me.  And regardless of how much money
I have to spend, there are bargains to be had that will only become
obvious in hindsight.  When Pittman was buying rare early proof
coinage, and Ford was buying rare tokens, medals and Colonial coins
and paper money, few other collectors were interested in doing so.

But collecting isn't all about rarity or price - it's about just
having some fun collecting. And there is no shortage of affordable
numismatic items to collect, from circulating and non-circulating
commemorative coins, paper money, tokens, medals, world coins and
paper, etc.  Those kids leave the Coins4Kids meetings and hit the
bourse floor, adding to their collections without spending a ton
of money.  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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