Tom Kays submitted the following account of last Saturday's event for kids at the Annandale, VA coin show. Tom, Eric Schena, Jon Radel and others pitched in to help run the event while I was away on vacation. I started the sessions after moving to Virginia, modeling them after the very successful Coins4Kids events at the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists shows in Pittsburgh. Thanks, everyone!
Nummis Nova is a Northern Virginia dinner club of passionate collectors, dealers, writers, and researchers into all things of a numismatic, exonumic, or bibliomaniac bent. Nummis Nova members sponsor an especially successful Young Numismatist event each year at the Annandale Coin Show. Our model might work at your venue, should you wish to promote a new generation of collectors.
This year we expanded into two rooms to hold all the interested kids. Attendees on arrival, are asked to register parent contact information so that reminder/invitation post cards may be mailed to respondents for next year, slated to arrive a week or two in advance of the show. You may simply use email to reduce costs. Newcomer parents fill out the contact information while each child (age 12 or under, or thereabouts) receives an envelope with ten “Auction Bucks.” Auction Bucks are paper scrip used in a live, “kids-only” auction at the conclusion of any business and invited speaker talk.
Donations of coins, tokens, coin supplies and coin books are gathered sporadically during the year, and often supplemented by walking the bourse floor the day before/day of an event, where coin dealers usually have items to give to such a worthy cause. The kids love “old” coins so that any ancient Roman bronze coin or Chinese cash coin of a thousand years age, or obsolete U.S. odd denomination coins or tokens really attract spirited bidding.
Several dozen lots are needed with the exact number to be added to, or subtracted from, as the meeting begins based on attendance count, to ensure each child in attendance has an opportunity to buy something good. The kids may strategically save their Auction Bucks for the next show, or combine money among siblings, to be able to bid more than $10, at which newcomers would max out, for the best lots, which reveals who among the kids, has talent to become our future coin dealers.
Audience participation is spiced up by giving the invited speaker several tens of Auction Bucks to award, or withhold, in one or two dollar incentives for good questions and even better answers from the kids. Once kids catch on how it works, be ready for lively discussion. Speakers are invited to give between 20 minutes and an hour talk, depending on their passion, about what they collect. A projector and laptop allow images of the coins to be displayed without the need to pass around dear examples, among the well-intentioned, fumble fingered audience, and the rest is up to the imagination of the speaker.
This year, the eminent token specialist, Eric Schena, author of The Ingle Scrip of the Mid Atlantic Region, presented “What is a Token – Fun with Exonumia.” In a dozen well-crafted slides, Eric captured the kids’ imagination by addressing unusual aspects of tokens with discussion leading to a take away point they will remember.
For example, from “Tokens are sometimes…Mysterious,” he derives the term “Maverick” meaning a token lacking in information about its place of origin. Eric carried the talk onward with fascinating insights into local tokens that the parents enjoyed too. The kids especially loved Eric’s weird but true stories about tokens from ghost towns, explosive tokens, and tokens forming the last tangible link to historic places, law breaking events, lost treasures and famous persons, with Eric giving the rest of the story at length.
Pay attention, E-Sylum readers, as virtual Auction Bucks may be at stake.
Question 1) What claim to fame does the token from I.T. Banks hold?
Question 2) What are travelers required to do who visit Shaw, WV?
Question 3) What historic event is associated with the Post Exchange token from Fort Mills?
Question 4) which of these tokens are “Mavericks?”
Great stories, Eric. All the trade tokens ever minted in the U.S. from the 1820s to the 1930s, barely equal a day’s production at the U.S. Mint today, making all tokens desirable. Emissions from a hundred to a thousand tokens were the norm putting them on par with the scarcity of Colonial coins. Today we may use e-coupons on iPhones, but back then, tokens were the thing, and I’m sure several new token collectors got their start from Eric’s talk and his generous gift of a three and a half cent merchant token from the turn of the twentieth century, which are not at all common, to each child at the Annandale YN Event, as a new beginning for the collecting bug.
Hint 1: A chance discussion in Hollywood assures that everyone knows of the town where this token is from.
Hint 2: It might help to know that Shaw was located along a river.
Hint 3: A famous (recovered) treasure is associated with the place this token hails from.
Hint 4: If we tell you where they are from, would certain tokens still be mavericks? Eric enjoys just this kind of detective work.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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