Dave Bowers discussed the Washington Post article on millennials (see the previous E-Sylum item in this issue) with several
hobby leaders via email this week. Here are a couple excerpts from the discussion. -Editor
Dave Bowers writes:
I have studied the coin market and its history for many years. All across the board, hobbies are changing. Kids do not build models
anymore, crafts are a fraction of what they were 20 years ago, and I have no idea if there is a single shop in New Hampshire specializing
in sports cards. In the early 1960s Chet Krause estimated there were 6,000 coin shops in the USA (every small town had one, large cities
had a page of listings in the Yellow Pages), and so on.
Dave Lange writes:
I agree that collecting stuff (and hobbies in general) are on the decline, but that may change as the younger generation becomes more
prosperous (assuming they do at some point). Young people are burdened with student loans and low paying jobs that keep them in small
apartments well into their thirties. They aren't benefitting from the prosperity we knew as kids and young adults.
There does still exist some collecting interest in young people, but it may be of a more utilitarian nature. My ladyfriend's
teenage boys actively collect Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, but then they actually play a game with them. The cards are prized and stored inside
plastic sleeves, but they're not mounted in an album for display or submitted for grading.
Most of the new adherents to coin collecting in recent years have discovered this hobby as adults, oftentimes as a by-product of
investing in bullion. I don't believe we'll ever again see coin collecting as the massive fad it became in the early 1960s, and
the hobby may regain the smaller scale it had before the era of coin boards and folders. This is not a good sign for the large numbers of
common coins that have survived, and it's doubtful that many persons will be just "filling the holes" with circulated
Buffalos and Mercuries, but there should always be enough participants to support a market for choice and truly scarce coins.
I think Dave's assessment is a wise one. Collecting fads come and go, and it's the common stuff that that gets overhyped and
oversold and eventually falls to earth. But rarities remain rarities, and retain their desirability despite price fluctuations; I suspect
there will always be a market for early porcelain license plates, early baseball cards, early comic books, and 1893-S Morgan dollars.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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