Young Numismatists

Friday through Sunday, the annual Macon Georgia Coin Show collected (pun intended) at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry Georgia just south of Macon on I-75.

This year’s show proved to be very busy with lots of people, lots of coins on display and lots of trading.

But as several dealers commented, where are the young people?  Is the hobby and the passion for coin collecting dying – literally – with the older generations?

As these dealers observed, both the dealers and the public at the show were older, and that the number of young attendees could be counted on one hand. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the comment highlights how few young collectors came to the show.

Now, the ANA defines a Young Numismatist as younger than 22 and offers several programs targeted to these individuals. (See the ANA’s Young Numismatist web page.)

But, knowing the dealers at this show, they probably identified “young” as being less than 35 years old.

Could it be that it’s just difficult to get young collectors to the show? Or, could it be that technology, including computer games, the Internet, Twitter and Facebook, edges out the interest in collecting and history for today’s young people?

Interestingly, the Young Numismatists Association entry on Wikipedia claims the association has started and fizzled at least twice now. However, the ANA still offers many programs to the young collectors. Plus, the Boy Scouts of America award merit badges for coin collecting.

Some large coin shows such as the Whitman Baltimore Show offer a Kids’ Korner area to help young collectors build their knowledge and their collections.

Plus, the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) plans to send a deserving young numismatist to the ANA’s Summer Seminar series in 2010.

All of these and other activities target helping young collectors become skilled numismatists. But, the coin shows just don’t seem to be attracting very many younger people these days.

With the US Mint introducing the quarter series, the Lincoln pennies, the nickel varieties and the presidential dollars, many opportunities abound for the young person to join the collectors’ ranks rather inexpensively. Plus, the US Mint also provides a whole web area called H.I.P. Pocket Change to peak children’s interest.

As a large benefit, the art, hobby and skill of numismatics constantly teaches. Numismatists learn history, economics, geography, math, science, social studies, political science, psychology and a host of other skills as well such as responsibility and respect.

Wouldn’t it be great if more young people became interested in the fun of numismatics? Think of the educational value in that fun.