The Future Of Numismatics

Posted on 10/9/2014

We all have a stake in making sure there are more coin collectors in the future.

A few weeks ago, I spent several days in Colorado Springs visiting the American Numismatic Association (ANA) headquarters. The focus of the visit was to help develop and discuss the ANA’s strategic planning for the next few years. I also wanted to meet with more of the staff to have a better understanding of how the ANA actually works on a day to day basis. My visits with the museum and library staffs were particularly productive. The ANA Money Museum is a wonderful asset of the organization, its members and the local population. The current “Treasures of the Deep” exhibit is fantastic and highly recommended for anyone visiting the area. Viewing the Bass exhibit of United States gold coinage is always a huge thrill. Some of the finest US gold coins in the country reside in that room! The ANA library is also an outstanding resource, and is the largest lending numismatic library in the country. Plans are underway to more fully utilize these and other assets of the ANA to promote numismatic education and to expand the hobby.

Expanding the hobby is the point of this article. Whenever possible, I try to stress the importance of this issue for the future of numismatics. Regardless of what you collect, the hope is that when you decide to sell, there will be new collectors eager to purchase your material. This is only possible by attracting and retaining new collectors to numismatics each year. Every hobby organization in the country is facing the problem of competing for attention in a world now dominated by social media, endless entertainment options, and less and less leisure time. Rare coins have a lot to offer, but it’s sometimes hard to get the message out. Many dealerships have embraced new media to expand their business. Facebook, Twitter, Google, eBay and many others are now common tools of the trade of numismatics.

Another incredibly important aspect of growing the future of numismatics is to encourage young people interested in numismatics as a career. Numismatic education is vitally important for those wanting to be a coin dealer. The Summer Seminar is one of the most successful programs the ANA offers each year. Hundreds of individuals travel to Colorado Springs every summer for these classes. Many of them are young numismatists who have earned scholarships. Dozens have gone on to successful numismatic careers, and some now actually teach classes. NGC generously donates the time of several grading experts for these classes every year. These are very popular classes, and they usually sell out quickly.

Another interesting development that has been started in the last few years is the idea of creating apprenticeship opportunities. NGC offers promising rare coin graders the chance to work alongside some of the best in the business. They are provided free lodging, transportation, expenses, and invaluable encouragement. The Professional Numismatic Guild (PNG) recently launched a similar program for those interested in a numismatic career. Participants work for three months at four different companies over the course of a year. Companies may offer and have offered permanent employment to those who demonstrate exceptional skill. Programs like these can make a huge difference for anyone looking to get their foot in the door. Locally, I have a 16-year-old young man that has declared his intentions to be a rare coin dealer. He works in my office learning as much as possible about the world of rare coins. It is very exciting to see a new generation taking such a keen interest in the hobby we all love so much.

Next week I will be in Washington, DC for a visit with the US Mint. One of the purposes of the visit is to discuss ways the US Mint and the ANA can work together to expand the hobby. This includes trying to develop ideas to attract more young people to numismatics. This is very exciting, as the Mint has considerable marketing ability and has the same motivation for growing the hobby. Hopefully, we can find ways to leverage the giant mailing list of the US Mint to create more serious coin collectors. Most collectors start small, and if given the material to spark further interest, they may become more involved.

In 2015, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History will debut its new, 1,000 square foot, numismatic exhibit. The new exhibit has been years in the planning and promises to be a wonderful opportunity to expand interest in numismatics. The new exhibit was made possible by the amazing support of many generous donors, including NGC. I have been working behind the scenes with the numismatic department to create material that can be given away to those visiting the exhibit. Plans are underway to develop a numismatic discovery cart with volunteers offering educational narrative and brochures about coin collecting. Over four million people visit the National Museum of American History each year. Years ago, I was inspired by US gold coins when viewing the amazing Lilly collection that had been on exhibit in the numismatic gallery. Hopefully, the new exhibit will inspire a new generation of collectors.

As mentioned above, we all have a stake in making sure there are more coin collectors in the future. I encourage everyone to spread the word about numismatics whenever possible. The holiday season is fast approaching, and the next time you buy a present for a young person, consider something numismatic related. About 40 years ago, someone gave me a Whitman folder for Lincoln Cents. It obviously made a big impression on me!

Questions about the rare coin market? Send them to

Jeff Garrett bio

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