Use a little ‘uncommon cents’ to promote hobby

By Jeff Fournier

For many years, the Royal Canadian and American Numismatic Associations organized special events, making a concerted effort to showcase our fine hobby to the public each October during “Coin Week.”

A unique ANA initiative asked individual collectors, clubs and coin dealers to distribute inexpensive collector coins: the type readily available to the collector community, but rarely seen by the public. The ANA suggested the collecting community use some of these coins to make purchases at their local convenience stores, at the mall or anywhere else that an average person might shop and could receive one of these inexpensive “collector” coins in their change. What a great idea it was.

What’s stopping any one of us from doing that in our communities today, even though we no longer have an organized coin week in Canada?

Our country has many inexpensive coins from past years that collectors are hoarding by the roll in many cases: George VI cents, 1973 and other commemorative 25-cent pieces, 1967 (centennial) five-cent pieces and nickel dollars and 50-cent pieces. And then of course there’s our now “extinct” $1 and $2 bills (in average circulated condition) that are plentiful in our collections and little hoards, but are no longer seen in circulation.

Why not distribute some of these coins and bills? Use them to tip your waiter or waitress the next time you go out for dinner, for example. I’ll bet you’ll bring a smile to their face and a very sincere “thank you” to boot.

Anyone who has tried to sell common, inexpensive coins or bills to a dealer knows they will pay little, if any, premium for them. So, if you were to use them in your pocket change during a week in October, how much would you be out of pocket? Not a lot, I’d say. And it would be a small price to pay if even one person – an adult, youth, or a child – were to find a strange coin or bill in their pocket change and decide to take up coin collecting.

Dealers could help and benefit from this as well.

What if every dealer in Canada were to take a supply of coins that had been gathering dust in their inventories – and had little premium attached to them – and began using some of them for everyday purchases in their communities? Maybe they would see a few new faces in their coin shops or buying from them on eBay or at coin shows. It might even lead to many more sales as new collectors are drawn into the fold.

This is a simple and inexpensive idea. Surely, most collectors and dealers can afford to spread a few uncommon cents around town.

If your club is planning to set up an information booth at a local mall or museum, or host a coin show, how much trouble would it be to take a supply of inexpensive, yet uncommon coins along, which the public can trade for an equal amount of pocket change?

Experienced coin collectors have often lamented that new collectors are not taking up the hobby because there is nothing interesting to collect. Well, here’s a way that we can all help to get some cool coins out to the public, and perhaps encourage more people to take up this fascinating hobby.

Every little bit helps; just my two cents’ worth!

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