Coins come and go, but the people make the memories

After nearly 25 years as editor of Canadian Coin News, this is my last column. Not bad for a job that I originally figured would be fun for a year, maybe two, before going back to regular journalism.

I still find it hard to believe that it was 1990 when I first sat down and wrote my first coin articles. Not the very first, but one of them, was about the possibility of the one-cent coin being withdrawn. It took a while, but I finally saw that happen.

Among my other early stories were the challenges involved in spending non-circulating legal tender, the proliferation of new issues, worries about the lack of new collectors, and various debates on third-party grading. Some things, it seems, never change.

Yet the numismatic world of today is very different than it was back then.

Third-party grading was still new. While some collectors and dealers liked the idea, many still preferred their coins inside an old two-by-two, rather than encased in a holder. The term slab, with its connotations of a morgue, was not originally a positive sentiment. On the plus side, both buyers and sellers had a lot more confidence doing transactions by mail if the coin was in a trusted holder.

Coins, and even most notes, were not particularly colourful back then. Circulating commemoratives were uncommon, and the idea of a coloured coin in pocket change was, simply, unfathomable.

But the biggest change has been the Internet, with online stores, forums, and live auctions.

Today, that is no doubt the biggest game-changer the hobby has seen. Combined with the fact that almost any coin with a significant value has been slabbed, distance trading has become common and accepted.

Even so, smart collectors still like to look at coins and form their own opinions.

As for new issues, well, back in 1992 I was shocked when I realized the 13-coin Canada 125 commemorative program, combined with the regular issues of gold and silver coins, added up to almost 20 different coins for the whole year. Looking back I would have never believed it if you told me that the Royal Canadian Mint would be issuing more than 200 different coins a year.

Over the years I have been lucky enough to hold the famous 1911 silver $1 a couple of times; I have been able to strike a few coins in both Winnipeg and Ottawa; and I even managed to get my entire family inside one of the Mint’s gold vaults all at once. All special memories.

But looking back, I think it is the people that stand out the most.

Some are still around, some have moved on, and sadly, some of them are no longer with us.

It is always risky to name names, but I have been honoured to have met Jim Charlton, Sheldon Carroll, Jerry Remick, Earl Salterio, all numismatic stars from the past; and Tim Benford, who helped us organize tropical vacations as a subscription promotion. All of these have passed on, but all were a part of my CCN experience.

Finally I have to mention Paul Fiocca.

Paul was a founding partner in Trajan Publishing, a colourful figure, and maybe one of the best bosses I ever had. After his death, an award was instituted in his honour at the RCNA. I have been privileged to serve on the committee for that award since its inception.

All those named above have since passed on. I won’t mention the living, for fear of committing the sin of omission.

I’m not leaving the numismatic world. My involvement with the RCNA will continue, and I may even get back to work on my long-neglected collection of British crowns.

So thanks to Trajan for the past 24 years of fun, and even more thanks to you, the readers, who have been the best part of the whole experience.

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Canadian Coin News is Canada's premier source of information about coins, notes and medals.

Although we cover the entire world of numismatics, the majority of our readers are Canadian, and we concentrate on the unique circumstances surrounding collecting in our native land.

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