By Jesse Robitaille
Established only one year ago, the Saugeen Coin Society (SCS) has since seen its membership more than double as the executive works to secure the club’s footing in Bruce County.
Currently standing at 20 members, the SCS has been well received by the public in this southwestern Ontario town of nearly 14,000 people.
“We started with about eight members, and we’ve grown steadily since then,” said SCS President Rick Dupuis, who’s also the host of Pocket Change Radio, which is broadcast live on 91.3 FM Bluewater Radio in Hanover, Ont.
“The first year has been great, and we’re even getting members from outside the area; people have been very generous in that regard.”
The success hasn’t been a solitary effort, Dupuis said, adding he’s received “a lot of great help” in the past 12 months.
“That’s the secret to the success of the club.”
Guidance from Scott Douglas, president of the Ontario Numismatic Association (ONA) as well as the South Wellington Coin Society, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, was “very instrumental in getting us up and going,” added Dupuis.
“I actually patterned our club with what South Wellington was doing,” he said, adding he’s also a member of that club. “When we got new members, they brought their ideas – a lot of great ideas – and we’ve implemented them and are continuing to do so.”
Other assistance has come from Judy Blackman, editor of the ONA’s bimonthly publication The Ontario Numismatist. She recently donated nearly 100 municipal tokens issued by Saugeen Shores in 1991 for presentation to members of the SCS.
“Judy, in her massive generosity, had these tokens from Saugeen Shores, and every member of the club will get one.”
STARTING A CLUB
Looking back on the past year, Dupuis reiterated the importance of finding help.
“There’s a little work involved,” he said, “but once you start getting help from other people, it gets so much better. All you need is someone with some vision, and then you check the viability and launch it; just pull the trigger and start.”
He suggests being “very organized,” which includes clearly outlining your goals as well as the goals of the prospective club.
“I wanted to see if it was actually viable – and if it were viable, who would join on – and I had a field of about 50 names initially,” said Dupuis, of gathering information about people interested in a coin club in Saugeen last year.
“What people have to remember is their local community newspapers and radio stations are excellent to getting the name out,” he said, adding he also contacted other non-numismatic clubs – such as rotary clubs and Kin Canada clubs – to promote the SCS and invite them to join.
“I also approached the big organizations in this country, such as the ONA and RCNA (Royal Canadian Numismatic Association). We’re all in this together.”
NO MAGIC ANSWER
“I have the utmost respect for anybody that has the energy to wish to start a coin club,” said RCNA President Henry Nienhuis. “It’s not necessarily an easy job, and there isn’t a magic answer to starting one.”
The first move is to find collectors – preferably within the area the club wishes to operate – and see if there’s any interest.
“If I was going to do it, I would use the community service boards you see around town,” said Nienhuis, who added coffee shops and grocery stores will often allow small announcements such as the launch of a coin club.
“You would say you’re intending to start a club but are looking for interest first, and if you can collect enough names to get critical mass, then it’s worth trying to hold your first meeting.”
Unless you have start-up capital – “which most clubs don’t,” Nienhuis added – you’ll be hard pressed to rent a room in a community centre to host meetings.
“They’re fairly expensive, so you could try to find some free space to meet at depending on the number of people expected to attend,” he said, adding coffee shops are sometimes receptive spaces.
When it comes to hosting that first meeting, it’s best for the organizer to have a solid plan, Nienhuis said.
“You don’t just say I want to start a coin club. What are your goals? You want social interaction with people, and you want them to possibly learn new things, so education is a good mandate for any club.”
In his experience, collectors “really enjoy” show-and-tell sessions.
“Nothing formal, but members can bring a coin and talk about it,” he said, adding the organizer will “need to keep their interest.”
“They’re not the motivating factor; you are, the person trying to set this up. You need to motivate people to come to your next meeting.”
The Saugeen Coin Society will soon launch a website at saugeencoinsociety.com.