We devote quite a bit of space in this issue to the past 50 years of numismatics, with some focus on Canadian Coin News, which is just concluding its 50th anniversary. My personal history doesn’t go back quite that far. While I was around 50 years ago, my concern was Grade 3 math, not numismatics.
I do go back quite a way, however, to late summer of 1990. I share that distinction with Mary-Anne Luzba. Actually, Mary-Anne can claim a bit of seniority, we started on the same day, but her start time was earlier than mine. Back then, of course, some aspects of the coin hobby was different. Third-party grading was just catching on, and fax machines were the latest rage. While we were using Macintosh computers to put together CCN, the actual final stages hadn’t changed much since the 1960s when Cale Jarvis photo-offset was the newest trend in production.
We used our computers to design the page, which gave us quite a bit of flexibility, but then printed pages out to produce mechanicals using hot wax and sharp knives. Mechanicals were couriered to the printer, who made negatives and then burned-plated.
Today things have changed. We still use Macs, but the magazine is created as a digital file and then electronically transferred to the printer, who makes a plate without any need for negative.
In the past year, we have started offering digital subscriptions, which allows those readers who prefer to read online a chance to cut out the middleman. So far, many of our readers still like the experience of a printed magazine, but I am quite convinced that the day is fast approaching when future paper magazines will be considered an anachronism. As I mentioned the hobby has also changed in some very substantial ways. The combination of widely accepted third-party grading and high speed internet access has made it possible for people to confidently purchase coins sight unseen. Today, we can even do that with a mobile telephone. Back in 1990 the state-of-the-art cell phone was a brick-like device that allowed voice communications only, and then only under ideal conditions.
A lot of other things have changed since those way back days. Somewhere along the line I lost my hair and my kids became adults. I also met some fantastic people since those first few years. Some of those people I met are still an active part of the hobby today. I was tempted to mention names, but there are too many to remember. Regrettably, some of the most remarkable people I met are no longer with us. I miss Jerry Remick’s unique correspondence, the off-the-wall approach of Tim Benford, the distinct personalities of Earl Salterio, Sommer James, Sheldon Carrol, and, most recently, Jim Charlton. And, of course, Paul Fiocca, the former publisher of CCN.
Through all of these changes, the nature of coin collecting hasn’t changed all that much.
Going back through former issues it was remarkable to find that collectors have always sought eye-appeal, pursued key dates, and dreamed of great rarities such as the 1911 dollar. The fact that I have been able to hold this coin on more than one occasion is a cherished memory for me. Predicting the future is a game best left to psychics and science fiction writers. I have no idea what the next 50 years will bring for coin collecting, but I do know one thing. There will still be coin collectors in 2063, with a bit of luck I will still be around to offer my thoughts on CCN’s 100th anniversary.