I’m sure that most of you are the same as me; coins and numismatics just seem to pop up in all sorts of conversations.
It happened again recently with a few friends who have never, ever, voiced an interest in coins of any sort. That in itself is unusual, because I’m sure 99 out of 100 people have a little plastic bag of interesting coins they hang on to, convinced they have to be worth something.
In this case, my friend’s wife suddenly announced they had bought their first coin, the Royal Canadian Mint’s Bugs Bunny issue. Now I know people either love or hate that coin, and I know the entire face value series is controversial.
On a personal level I resisted the urge to point out that getting the face value back was possible but problematic, or make any comments on the value of the silver content. My logic was they did not buy the coin as an investment, but because my friend, like most of us, grew up watching Bugs Bunny and for that reason he thought the coin was cool.
I congratulated them, said I liked Bugs as well, and said I hope they liked the coin.
Later on, I had a chance to think a bit more about their acquisition.
On the surface, it was easy to dismiss the purchase as a one off, a single transaction by a non-collector that means nothing to the hobby, and in truth, that may turn out to be the case.
However, people don’t buy cool stuff because they don’t have an acquisitive nature. My friend may not collect coins, but he is a collector. I know of several collections of non-numismatic items, and as an empty nester he has the resources and time to devote to his hobbies.
From that perspective, the single coin purchase looks quite different.
It is possible this coin could lead to a new hobby. My friend may decide to go for a Superman coin, to stay with the youth theme. If so, he will be entering the secondary market for the first time.
He also loves the outdoors. He is an avid camper and hunter so the Mint’s extensive offerings of nature-themed coins could easily remind him of quiet days spent away from the urban scene.
For me, the question is how I can encourage my friend to get into coin collecting, without exerting pressure, or even worse, becoming that annoying friend who always talks about coins.
The good news is because they purchased the coin from the Mint, they are now on that organization’s radar. The face value programs, while profitable in their own right, are primarily done to acquire new customers.
The Mint, I know, will be sending them mailings and emails aimed at getting them into coins. My job is being a source of advice and information.
We all have friends who may be interested in coins, and it is up to us to patiently nurture that interest. We won’t turn everyone into numismatists, but we are bound to have some successes.