Diversity of RCM offerings can be a good thing

If you read the recent article in Canadian Coin News which noted that the number of Royal Canadian Mint issues has grown 20 times in 20 years, you may have grumbled and complained how it’s now impossible for the average collector to afford everything that the Mint issues. I remember thinking this way a number of years ago.

Last year, as that CCN article went on to explain, the RCM offered 225 products for collectors. A set of one of each would have cost $339,858. Preposterous? I think not.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s a little steep for me, however, I don’t feel a need to buy one of everything that the Mint has produced and neither should you. You see, like many collectors, I once had this slight obsession with putting together sets of things and trying to complete them – or at least I did feel this way until I started looking at collecting in a different way a number of years ago.

I had to change my thinking so that I could finally get my head around what the Mint was doing and come to terms with it. When the number of Canadian coin issues began to grown in 1992, I had to take a really good look at how I was collecting.

Although I had been collecting Canadian coins since the late 1960s and tokens and medals since the mid-1970s, I began to realize that my desire to assemble a complete set of Canadian coins, or anything else, was really not at all necessary. This was around the same time that I was beginning to shop at some of the big box stores in the south such as Costco and other giant warehouse stores. They had thousands of items available for me to choose from. Also, around this time (in Northern Ontario) some super-sized grocery stores were beginning to sprout up.

It was then that I realized that whenever I would go into these stores, I didn’t have an urge to buy one of everything, like I did from the RCM, nor could I. And I was okay with that. I simply accepted the fact that the items available gave me a wide variety of options.

For those of you who are old enough to remember, there was a time when grocery stores carried maybe a few hundred or a few thousand items – not tens of thousands like they do now. If you wanted some fruit, you would probably choose from a dozen or so apples, oranges, bananas and maybe peaches, pears, raspberries or strawberries when in season. Now we can choose from dozens and dozens of fruits and berries including kiwis, passion and star fruit, endless varieties of pears, apples, oranges and berries and we can do it year-round. We also have a generous assortment of ethnic foods to choose from, delicious and numerous grain breads, buns and so on.

Am I grumbling about this? Certainly not. And I haven’t heard too many other consumers grumbling about it either. We all enjoy the assortment and the variety of foods and consumer products available to us.

Well, it just hit me one day, that what the Mint was doing was not so different from these businesses. They’re generating new business and creating opportunity by offering more products. And the Mint is a business, make no mistake about it. The Mint offers us an endless number of choices and I, for one, am enjoying that.

To be honest, I don’t collect a whole lot of current Mint product, but my lifelong fascination with dinosaurs and Batman-Superman recently led me to purchase one each of the $20 for $20 coins. I still like to buy the yearly silver dollar issues and I enjoy giving Proof-Like sets as gifts for friends when they welcome a new baby into the family.

So, maybe it’s time we all gave up our grumbling and just embrace what’s happening at the Mint. We should welcome the variety of numismatic items that they offer and purchase only what ‘tickles our fancy’ and leave it at that. Stop the grumbling. After all, that’s what free will and free enterprise is all about. We can buy as much or as little as we like and be content without having to buy one of everything, or feeling deprived if we can’t.

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