One of the constant subjects of debate in the numismatic community is how to inspire the next generation of coin collectors. How do we spark an interest in kids? The best way to get a child interested in coin collecting is simply to help them get started and show them how rewarding coin collecting can be.
The first question, of course, is what kind of coins the child should collect. It’s best to start with coins that are easy to acquire, to avoid frustration or impatience. The child’s own interests should be a major consideration as well; no one wants to spend time and effort collecting coins that bore them. Some children may be interested in collecting coins from their birth year, while others may want to focus on a specific historic period. One of the best starter collections is the State Quarter series. They are easy to acquire, and have beautiful designs that even a very young child can appreciate. Other children may enjoy collecting Lincoln cents or Jefferson nickels. The challenge of filling a coin book or folder can add an aspect of play to collecting as well.
The next consideration is what budget the child may have for collecting. Older children may have paper routes or babysitting jobs, and be able to make their own small purchases; others may be dependent on gifts. Either way, it’s usually best to get the budding numismatist started on coins that are cheaper to obtain. If they are reliant on gifts for their collection, let friends and family members know which coins would be welcomed. For some children, a handful of older coins that they have not seen before may be just the thing to spark an interest in coin collecting.
Taking the interested child to coin shows and exhibits may also help spark an interest in collecting. Help them research the stories behind specific coins, or the people depicted on them. If he or she is interested in art, help them learn about Victor David Brenner, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and other legendary sculptors who created designs for coins. If the child is interested in a particular historical figure, even a fictional one, work together to find out what kind of coins this person would have held. (We have an ongoing series on the blog that does just that!)
Some children may have existing collections that can dovetail with a coin collection. If she is a fan of animals, introduce her to coins with animal designs (Irish coins have some particularly lovely animals.) If he enjoys sports, show him the wide variety of Olympic coins that have been minted by various countries.
Check your local area for upcoming coin shows or clubs. The social aspect of collecting is one of the most rewarding, and most collectors are happy to help young ones get started. Many shows have event and presentations specifically for younger hobbyists.
Finally, make sure the young collector has access to the resources that can help them become knowledgeable about their hobby. Most libraries either have, or can get, books about coins, as well as history books about whatever period the child is interested in. If they are old enough, consider getting them a subscription to a coin collecting magazine. Help them learn the basic terminology of coin collecting, how to identify where the coin was minted, and other basic skills. If there is a mint within reasonable travel distance, arrange a visit and tour.
Coin collecting has been one of the most popular hobbies around the world for centuries, and shows no sign of declining any time soon. With a little help and encouragement, the next generation of numismatists are ready to enter the world of collecting.