Yesterday (Saturday, July 25, 2015) I spent the morning at the Annandale Coin Show organized by Wayne Herndon. It's always a nice well-attended show, and for years now we have been holding a session for young numismatists there.
I arrived about 9:45 and got our cart of materials from Wayne. He stores everything in his warehouse between shows. I started arranging the room and setting up a projector and screen. I was going to speak on Civil War numismatics.
Other helpers soon arrived. While I ran downstairs to get a needed extension cord, Tom Kays started organizing the auction lots, including many donated items he's brought along, including a Silver Dollar. Eric and Heather Schena, and Jon Radel and his son Joe also helped with setup and signing in visitors.
It was a big room; this time the partitions were opened up and we could use the big screen I discovered after asking myself, "What does this switch do?" With my laptop and projector set up and focused, I was ready.
Downstairs I'd run into two of our regulars, E-Sylum reader Dave Ellison and his son. Dave had read my account of the Halal Chinese restaurant last week (you just can't make that stuff up). I told him Grandma had gotten really sick, and that my joking stomach pump suggestion would have been a good idea.
I warmed up the crowd with some introductions and an overview of how the auction would work. Everyone had been given ten auction dollars that never expire - kids can use leftover cash at subsequent events. Someone had asked about our age limit, and I told everyone we didn't have one - every interested new collector is welcome regardless of age - we won't throw anyone out when they start growing a beard (which seems to be my 16-year-old's summer project).
We started by having one of the kids pick a random registration slip to give away a copy of the Cherrypicker's Guide donated by Wayne Herndon. The kid ended up picking his own slip (and no, it wasn't rigged). The little girl who picked the second slip ALSO picked her own name, to great laughs in the crowd. I said there was a convenience store down the road selling lottery tickets - the kids should try their luck there (and point to the scratch-offs for their parents to buy).
My presentation was titled "The Day the Coins Disappeared: Numismatics of the Civil War." I could talk all day about the topic, so I had a lot to squeeze into about half an hour. I spoke off the cuff and quickly walked thru some 80 images, attempting to show how the coins we used before the war (cupro-nickel cents, half dimes etc) morphed thru the war into copper cents, nickels, etc. and a residue of fractional currency and Greenbacks. Many thanks to Eric for working the projector. I think I wore his finger out barking "Next!"
I talked about the 1862 "specie panic" and all the substitutes that appeared to fill the void left by the disappearing coinage, and how the "Greenbacks" came about to pay for the war effort. Naturally I also touched on Confederate currency and the Confederate half dollar and "cent".
Afterwards Jon Radel was our auctioneer, and he handled the task with aplomb. All lots found winning bidders, including a group of 18 British halfpennies donated by Andy Singer and some 40% silver Kennedy Half Dollars.
Some other lots included:
A series 2009 two dollar bill
Zimbabwe 50 billion special agricultural notes from 2008
A PCGS slab with a nice, red wheat cent
An 1883 "No Cents" Racketeer nickel, pre-gold plating
A 3 cent nickel
There was one mixed lot which Tom kept saying had a "gold dollar" in it, leading to a discussion about the distinction between gold dollars and "Golden Dollars" -- Joe Radel won the lot and felt a need to point out the distinction in good humor after going through the coins.
After the auction some older “kids” came up to spend their remaining auction dollars to purchase coins from our treasure box at three for a dollar. They said how much this recurring kid event meant to them and that this might be their last such event since they no longer considered themselves kids. If ever there was a call for a graduation to a Young “Adult” Numismatic Event here it is.
NOVA Kids Attendees at the Annandale Coin Show July 25, 2015
Tom Kays, Jon Radel (in an animated mid-sale pose), and Eric Schena
Everyone had a good time and several parents and kids thanked us on the way out. It was a great way to give back to the hobby and encourage the next generation of collectors. They were a smart and enthusiastic group, a pleasure to work with.
Tom may be on to something with his suggestion of a separate "Young Adult" event. The hobby loses many, many interested youngsters as they grow older. For me, the bridge was getting interested in the history behind coins, and meeting some older collectors who served as role models. I got so hooked I never lost interest in the hobby. We could use a venue to tutor interested young collectors. In the past, that venue may have been a local club meeting. That format may not work with this generation. Stay tuned. We'll work on this. Meanwhile, any suggestions are welcomed - this is a problem the hobby faces everywhere.
Tom Kays adds:
Perhaps you E-Sylum readers are smarter than a NOVA kid. The question: Having shown them encased postage stamps they asked whether letters were delivered by postmen across the Mason-Dixon divide between North and South during the Civil War. Eric fielded this question with an answer that sounded right, but the way we all looked at one another, the kids probably caught us crossing our fingers behind our backs. For really great stumpers like that I think next time we should award an entire uncut sheet of auction bucks, a real collectible! So what would be your answer?
On the way out I ran into (for the second time at the show) Howard Daniel, recently returned from the Summer F.U.N. show - see his show report elsewhere in this issue. He had some interesting stories of junkbox finds during his recent trip to Southeast Asia.
The only other (semi) numismatic happening for me this week was an answer to the question, "What can you buy for a cent these days?" I stopped at Home Depot today to pick up a hinge-mounted door stop for our kitchen door. The label in the bin said it was $1.48. When I got to the self-checkout register and scanned the item the price registered as $0.01. I checked the item description and it was correct. "That can’t be," I thought. But I couldn't resist. I pulled a shiny new cent out of my pocket and dropped it in the slot. "Please take your purchase," said the machine. It worked!
OK, I'm too much of a goody-goody to slink out of there, so I showed my purchase and receipt to the attendant. She confirmed that the price was ringing up as one cent. Another clerk she consulted told me to just take it and they'd fix the system later. Maybe I should have been shopping for a fancy new backyard grill or lawn mower.
Happy collecting, everyone!
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
WAYNE'S NUMISMATIC DIARY: JULY 19, 2015
Wayne Homren, Editor
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