Looking back in the future

By Jeff Fournier

As coin collectors, we are reminded of our past more often than most other people. Every time we look at our collections; every time we pick up another numismatic treasure at a coin show; every time we read articles in Canadian Coin News, on our club Websites, or in any other numismatic publication, we are reminded of the history we can hold  in our very own hands. Canadian coins, tokens, medals and banknotes remind us of our country’s storied past. These tiny pieces of art have the ability to catapult us back into the past, with the privilege of having the future – our present – as a reference point for perspective. Those numismatic treasures actually bring history back to life.

When we see Queen Victoria on our early Canadian coinage or the Voyageur and indigenous guide on our iconic Canadian silver dollar; when we remove a $10 dollar note from our wallet and see Sir John A. Macdonald – our first Prime Minister – peering back at us, we’re reminded just how far our nation has come and how many events and people have been involved in shaping our country and creating our very heritage.

It’s natural, at year’s end, to look at our successes and failures over the past months. We plan for the year ahead and make resolutions. We are filled with great optimism and tremendous hope for the year ahead.

But, can you imagine, what our ancestors must have been thinking, way back in 1867, when Canada was first declared a nation? What were their hopes and dreams for their new country? Did they imagine or plan for the year ahead, or were they envisioning what Canada would be down the road in 100 or 150 years?  Probably not. Like us, in their daily lives, they struggled, and likely could scarcely see beyond next week or next month.

Even coin collectors, going back only 50 years or so – back to the days of silver coinage and an almost entirely cash based economy – probably had little idea of what would be in store for them in 2017.

EBay, Internet auctions, digital newsletters, Facebook groups, professionally graded coins, and plastic money  are only a few of the things that have and continue to change the landscape of our hobby.

Life has changed, the world has changed too. Our hobby has changed. But have you? And what about your club? Has it changed?  The year 2017 will soon be a reality. We will be living it. We have faced 150 years of nationhood and we have faced the ups and downs of the collecting hobby along with it.

How will the hobby survive? And how can we help to ensure it does – to ensure that 50, 100 or 150 years from now, coins and other numismatic items will not be just curious artifacts found in museums or in dusty old jars and dresser drawers, with little significance and even lesser consequence?

Here is 2017. It’s time we start looking at our hobby – seriously looking at our hobby – and changing the way we think about it. Nothing is sacred, or at least, it shouldn’t be, if we are hoping for change – positive changes that will ensure our hobby’s longevity.

We all have to start thinking differently. Not accepting the status quo. Not doing things the way we’ve been doing them for the past 50 years or more. We have one really big thing going for us; we have our collective histories. We have stories to tell.

Our coins and other numismatic artifacts can help us convey our history and highlight our past – Canada’s past that has been molded over the past 150 years.

We must re-imagine how we can – as collectors, and as a collecting community – convey these 150 years of  heritage in new and innovative ways.

Canada 150 …let’s make 2017 a year of vision and a year to open up to the exciting possibilities that lie in the years ahead for our hobby and for Canada.

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