Are you a member of a club?
Are you a member of a club within your collecting interest whether that is collecting coins, banknotes, tokens, medals, scripophily, or ephemera?
If not, why?
I am a member of a few organizations, but my most satisfying experiences has been with my local coin club. Aside from the camaraderie of meeting with fellow collectors, I can be a participant in a way that I may not be able to as a member of a larger organization.
My local club meets once a month. At our meetings we encourage members to bring in some of their numismatic-related collectibles for an exhibition section to show to other members. One evening, I brought my iPhone to show off the Money Reader apps that visualize currency and announce the denomination. Our members have such varied interests that we never know what a member will show off.
We also have an education segment that is a 30-45 program focused on something related to numismatics. Speakers have included noted authors, prominent dealers, government officials including members of the U.S. Secret Service, and club members presenting something of their interest. We have also screened videos related to numismatics. This summer, I plan to screen a video from the History Channel about U.S. Bullion Repository at Fort Knox.
After a light snack that is paid for by members contributing money in a jar at the table, we hold an auction of up to 40 items that are mostly under $50. There are door prizes of (mostly) foreign coins and a raffle of a gold coin worth $50 or less—the coins are usually made from one-twenty-fifth of an ounce of gold.
Our goal is to allow everyone to participate in their own way.
Like a lot of clubs, we have one significant problem: our membership is mostly white, male, and aging.
The aging membership is not a problem if there are younger members to provide balance. But like a number of clubs, I am not seeing that many younger new members in my club or in other clubs I have observed. We want younger members to join our aging members—we can learn from our different perspectives.
The divide between the sexes has been documented in a lot of areas. While Women In Numismatics tries to engage and recognize the accomplishments of women participating in numismatics, they have worked more on a national level without reaching out to clubs to help bolster the participants of local women.
And why is numismatics almost an exclusively white hobby? We have had African-American visitors to our club meetings and have tried to make them feel as welcome as other visitors. Unfortunately, they never return. When I go to the Whitman Baltimore Show this weekend, it will be mostly a white affair. Where are the minorities? I am sure there are minorities who collect, but why do they not come out?
Local, regional, and national clubs must think about diversifying. Numismatics must recruit younger people aside from the Young Numismatists, women, and minorities. But how do we do that? Since I am not a member of any of these demographic groups, I need help to figure out how to recruit existing young, women, and minority collectors as well as new collectors.
If you have an idea, please leave a comment here.