The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 33, August 13, 2017, Article 24


An August 9, 2017 CoinWeek article by Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker discussed efforts at the recent ANA convention to "bridge the collecting divide" between oldtimers and newer generations of collectors. -Editor

bridge the collecting divide
At the ANA World's Fair of Money last week, we took a few minutes to chat with longtime dealer John Highfill, who is as colorful a character as you will ever meet on the bourse. John has just published a two-volume update to his 1992 omnibus The Comprehensive U.S. Silver Dollar Encyclopedia. A lot has changed since that "yearbook of the hobby" was published.

John spoke of the old days. He is just as passionate about silver dollars today as he always was. But even he took a look at the bourse floor and knew that today's hobby was much different than it was years ago.

One bright point of our conversation came when he wanted to introduce Charles to an ANA page. "This kid is brilliant," he said, "and you should get to know him. He came to my table and talked about 1893-S Morgan dollars..."

Imagine the sight: Charles with a giant camera rig, scurrying across the bourse to catch up to a 13-year-old page that wanted nothing to do with talking to either of them.

The moment was innocent but awkward, and it really made us think about whether all of this effort and discussion about how to attract young collectors to the hobby is misguided. Not that young people shouldn't be part of our community, but that we put undue (and unfair) weight and attention on them.

Instead of letting them be and grow into themselves, we give them the moniker "young numismatist" and place all of *our* hopes and aspirations for the future of the hobby on their shoulders.

Imagine how off-putting that would be if you were a teenager. By avoiding us, that 13-year-old kid made his point as eloquently as we deserved.

To read the complete article, see:
At the ANA, Many Attempts to Bridge the Coin Collecting Divide (

Not everyone is ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille. Be sure to see the complete article online. Two more events are discussed - the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) Symposium and the meeting of the Early American Copper (EAC) Society. -Editor

At this meeting, the discussion centered around two young numismatists in attendance.

The senior members of the club wanted to learn from the two YNs how their club could better reach out to young people and their friends.

At any rate, the one thing absent from this discussion and the earlier symposium at the NLG was how we can better communicate to collectors already in the hobby that don't feel like they are part of our community - that is, the community of collectors that would join organizations like the EAC or take up the challenge of writing the next great numismatic article or book, replenishing our ranks with new blood and new ideas.

It is our belief that some collectors drop in and out of the hobby over the course of their lives. Others may collect for years--their whole lives, in fact--and never advance their knowledge to the point where they would feel comfortable calling themselves "numismatists". Still others see the hobby as having great potential. If we are lucky, these people are provided the opportunity to grow and mature as true numismatists and future leaders. It is on us to always present a welcoming environment, a call to participate, and a community worthy of their talent and time. If anything, what we have failed to do in recent years is to offer a compelling alternative to self-directed collecting, detached from the social ties that have long bound the hobby together.

Coins are interesting things collected by interesting people. Our website's focus is discussing coins and the lifestyle of collecting. It is our belief that the industry is best served by taking this to heart and leaving the gimmicks at the door. Prices do not dictate the viability of the coin market. The fascination of coins and related objects does.

Even our youngest "numismatists" know that.

Only a handful of numismatists are hooked at a young age and stay with the hobby their entire lives. More typically, they might catch an interest early on, yet go away for many years and perhaps return at a later date. Still others only discover the hobby as an adult. While it helps to introduce youngsters to the hobby through various programs, it is equally important to entice and welcome outsiders of any age, and there are many platforms for doing that, including the "old-fashioned" internet and newer social media platforms of all types. But even when hooked (or re-hooked) many of these new recruits may never set foot in a coin club, show or convention. That may take some getting used to for the rest of us.

There's much more to the article - be sure to read it online. -Editor
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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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