While attending the Whitman Baltimore Coin and Currency Show, I was privileged to have a conversation with American Numismatic Association Vice President and Presidential candidate Patti Finner. Finner was in her usual location, the Kids Korner at the show. While talking about various aspects of numismatics, I asked about keeping people interested during that period after being a Young Numismatist and rediscovering the hobby later on.
I understood the problem when I returned to the hobby in my 40s after aspects of my life settled. I was collecting state quarters out of change and placing them in a colorful folder before diving back in. When I returned to numismatics, I continued the traditional collecting as I did when I was younger. I found old folders and albums, updated them to new materials, and started to buy coins from local dealers, online, and coin shows. I was filling albums, buying lots, and selling off the excess so that the proceeds could be used to support my new habit.
Over the last few years I have filled up many albums, purchased some key coins, and created a nice collection of series by date and mint mark. While there was something satisfying about this, I wanted more.
More came in the form of registry sets, bullion silver with different designs, as well as medals and tokens that have meaning to me. I then discovered that collecting this exonumia was not only fun but it was not expensive. But I was having a difficult time figuring out how to make this interesting to an average collector. Then I spoke with Ms. Finner.
Finner’s idea is to create a personal album of coins. Regardless of how you organize the collection, her idea is to document where you received the coin, how much it is worth or you paid for it, when it was acquired, and any other facts about the coin that is important to you. She told me how some were creating databases or writing it on paper and placing it between pages, and a few other ideas.
When I returned home after the show, I opened a three-ring notebook containing paper currency and saw the two 1912 Russian notes that belonged to my late grandfather when his family arrived in the United States from Lithuania. The notes were given to me after my grandfather passed away. While thinking about what Ms. Finner had said, I typed information regarding their provenance: who they belonged to, how I obtained them, and other information about the notes including estimates of their value. The page I created was inserted into the binder behind the note.
I thought this was a great idea that I started to create pages for the notes and other items in that binder. For example, I have ticket stubs from the 1986 National League Championship Series and World Series. I created pages for those items including box scores that I found online. Documenting a collection like this takes it from a series of coins to a personal collection. It adds history and provenance to the collection.
After telling this to a friend, he created his own album. My friend had taken the coin boards that the US Mint has been producing the first three years of the Presidential Dollars and created pages to hold the boards and a sheet of paper where he could document the history of the coins. He used a one-pocket mylar page creating a pocket using a food sealing machine. He created two binders for each of his children and is considering doing the same for the 50 State Quarters.
For those 20- and 30-somethings who are establishing themselves in their careers and with families, this is an opportunity to create a family collection and tell a story that documents the family history with the coins. For those with children, it is also something you can do together.
This can be done using coins, tokens, currency, medals, or anything collectible. Make it a project. Share the project. But the most important thing to remember is to make it fun!