How to Use Social Media for Coin Collectors

If you’re reading this post, you clearly have some knowledge of the internet, but there’s a whole world out there on social media: are you part of it? Here are a few of the best ways for a coin collector to get involved online.

Forums:

Forums are one of the oldest forms of social media. Members of an online forum post messages and conversations on multiple topics. Forums are one of the best places for extended conversations, debates, and sharing of information. Most forums also host images, so collectors can share images of their coins, help identify coins that others post, and more. When finding a good forum to join, look for one with a clear-cut code of conduct and strong moderator presence: this helps ensure that the discussions remain civil and productive. There are many good forums out there; two of our favorites are CoinTalk and NumisSociety.

fb-art.jpgFacebook: 

Facebook is a surprisingly good place to trade photos and knowledge (and jokes!) with other collectors. Some companies and collectors have pages that are worth following, and there are many coin collecting discussion groups. Check before joining: different groups may have different rules for posting and chatting. You can search Facebook for coin collecting groups to see which ones you like; some of our favorites are Coin Collectors and Coin collecting help. (You can follow us on Facebook, too!)
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Twitter:

Twitter has been called the world’s biggest party line, and it’s easy to see why. With millions of users, all chatting away at each other, it’s a giant conversation. There are two good ways of following people with similar interests on Twitter. First, just find someone interesting and follow their account. You can find those people by searching phrases like “coin collecting,” searching the hashtag #coins, or seeing who follows the big numismatics accounts like Krause Publications.

Another good way is to use Twitter’s “lists” function. You can add anyone to a list whether you follow them or not, and a list can be a good way to focus your feed. For instance, we have a “numismatics” list, that is solely made up of accounts that provide a lot of great content about coins and coin collecting. When we pull up the list, we see only the tweets from people on the list. It’s a great way to see who is talking about what in the coin world. (You can see our list here and follow us here.)

instagram.jpegInstagram:

There are a lot of coin collectors and hobbyists using Instagram; it’s one of the top image-sharing networks in the world. It uses hashtags in much the same way Twitter does, though the tags are not usually a prominent part of the text. Follow us on Instagram to see what everyone is sharing!

Blogs:
Blogs and websites are still the best places for long-form content, like articles and essays. There are many great coin collecting blogs around, from big names like Krause Publications’ Numismatic News, down to individual collectors like Blind Coin Collector. It doesn’t have to be a major chore to keep up with all your favorite blogs, either. Look into using a feedreader (Feedly is an excellent one.) All you have to do is enter the blogs and websites you want to keep up with; the reader will show you when the sites have updated and let you read the new post right there, without going to a new page.

Basic do’s and don’ts:

Do: be friendly. Most people on social media are there for the same reason you are: to make friends and share interests.

Don’t: get into public fights. It can be tempting to sling a witty takedown to the person who just posted something unbearably ignorant, but the best policy is just to let it slide. It’s easy to get sucked down into a maelstrom of negativity; don’t ruin your social media experience. Block individuals who cause you problems, and move on.

Do: share great content. Whether it’s something you’ve written, a great blog post you saw, or just a picture of the latest addition to your collection, share things that are worth seeing. There’s a lot of empty fluff on the internet, and everyone appreciates something with some substance.

Don’t: repost everything. Reposting or retweeting some things is great; after all, you want to share stuff you enjoyed! But if your account is only stuff you’ve shared, it’s hard to start conversations with other people. Post your own ideas, too!

How to Stop Worrying and Love Technology

 

With interest in coin and stamp collecting on the decline, many collectors have begun to worry that their beloved pursuits could be in danger of falling into the dustbin of history. Government agencies have begun trying to spark interest in these hobbies as well; the Royal Mail recently released an “Animail” design of highly-colored stamps shaped like animals, designed to appeal to children.

 
pexels-photo-largeOne blogger responded, “Personally I think new blood in the hobby will come from older people.  Many young people don’t ‘collect’ anything these days, not even Panini cards, unless it is Apps on their smartphones or pads.  No, the target audience should be anywhere from 25 upwards, but especially the over 50s, even if they don’t get as much opportunity as a few years ago for early retirement and hours of time to fill…Few young people will use them: even the use of email is being overtaken by things like WhatsApp and Skype.”

 
While the author is welcome to his opinion, this is an unnecessarily pessimistic view of the way technology influences collecting. Coin and stamp collecting have been around for centuries, and there is no reason to believe they will disappear or be relegated only to certain age groups because of emerging tech. Change, on the other hand, is inevitable.
Coins and stamps are intrinsically tied to technology. The artistry and technique present in a coin or stamp is a way to gauge the technology of the culture that produced it, and advances in technology inspire collectibles of greater complexity, detail, and uniformity.
Hoard_of_ancient_gold_coinsBut sometimes it can feel like historic fields such as numismatics and philately are out of place in a world of Tweets, drones, and self-driving cars. Some are even advocating digital currencies to replace bills and coins, while historians and others are insisting that all antique coins be removed from sale and returned to their country of origin. More interpersonal communication happens online rather than via written letters.

 

Devotees of cyber currencies, like BitCoin, claim that these new currencies will soon replace traditional funds. Some, like the proposed Hayek currency, are still backed by gold. According to the press release, the Hayek coin will “be valued at 1 gram of gold at the day’s market price, [and] will serve as a more secure store of value than Bitcoin.” CEO of Anthem Vault, the creator of the Hayek,  Anthem Blanchard cites security concerns as a strong reason to support cyber currency. “Talking with friends of mine in the intelligence agencies, they say this is a real threat.” An attack could DDoS the current financial system, causing widespread chaos. Since cyber currencies do not rely on such central systems, they would theoretically be secure from this kind of attack, making them an attractive replacement for traditional cash, for some people.

 

Traditional stamps are also being challenged by websites like Stamps.com, which allow users to print legal, customized stamps for use on letters and other mailings. Many businesses simply use digitally printed postage instead of stamps, and personal mailings of all types have been on a steady decrease with the rise of the internet.
But new technology doesn’t have to mean an end to old traditions. It can not only enhance them, but actually preserve them, and enable current collectors to share their passion and knowledge with new collectors.

 

The sheer amount of information on the internet is staggering. Instead of spending hours paging through books, trying to find the relevant stamp or coin listing, collectors can ask questions on forums, use Google Image Search, or even reach out on Twitter or Facebook for information and help. On CoinLink.com, Doug Winter writes, “The best thing about the Internet for all hobbies has been the dissemination of information. 10 to 15 years ago, if you wanted information about rare coins you had to dig for it. You could open a Redbook and get mintage figures and you could find information about die varieties in various specialized books. But like the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, in the past, information was strictly controlled. If you were lucky, you were invited into the secret circle and given some of the information you needed. If you didn’t know the secret handshake, you were pretty much on your own.”

 

Elsewhere on CoinWeek, Jeff Garrett writes, “Nearly every successful rare coin company is now a technology company. Most have at least one or more individuals on staff at all times to solve tech issues, post coins online, create digital images, and tackle other computer-related tasks. Many successful collectors have also become more tech savvy in recent years. Quite a few can perform detailed online research, including locating coins and establishing values. A few years ago, I taught a class at the ANA Summer Seminar on rare coin pricing. Much of the class involved how to properly use online tools available to collectors.”

 

The old stalwarts of numismatics and philately aren’t going anywhere, but they will evolve. Coin collecting has seen a move away from collecting by date, mintmark, and other traditional variables; the new trend is collecting by design or theme. Coin design enthusiasts show their collections and finds on Pinterest and Instagram, taking advantage of the visual nature of these mediums.

 
800px-Brick_storefrontCollectors aren’t the only ones facing change: local brick-and-mortar stores will need to adjust to new technology as well. When smartphone cameras became high enough quality to take high-resolution photos of coins and stamps, collectors began sharing photos online for sale and identification, rather than going to their local store. In addition, collectors could purchase directly from the US Mint and Post Office without a middleman. Auction sites like eBay sealed the deal: now anyone could sell to anyone else, anywhere in the world.

 

Pat Heller, writing for NumismaticNews.com, has some pointed advice for local store owners: “Extend your market. If you do not already deal with customers outside your local market, consider developing a regional or national presence. This can be easier to do if you specialize in some market niche. Serve customers online, by phone, or by any means you can.

 

Technology is changing and advancing every hobby, not just collectibles. The rise of “maker culture” and public maker spaces is providing access to new technology for more and more people to build and create everything from toys to costumes to prosthetic limbs. 3D printers are as affordable as inkjet printers were a few years ago, and will soon be just as ubiquitous.
 

sunrise-1371391077dmNIt’s an exciting time to be a hobbyist; the world is opening up to so many new possibilities. Rather than fear change or dismiss tech-focused younger generations, this is a chance to revolutionize collecting, and invite newcomers. Technology is coming to the world of collectibles: it’s only a question of when and how. The “when” is now, but the how is up to us.

Why Victorian Calling Cards Are Like Facebook

Ah, the Victorians; so obsessed with politeness that almost every action had its own symbolic meaning. To achieve this almost unworldly level and layer of meaning, Victorians employed the calling card.

The calling card was used for social interactions as a method of leaving a first impression and reminding acquaintances of social visits. People would not see each other face-to-face until receiving a card.

The way it was given was important. How the giver stood and handed over the card, as well as the appearance of the card itself, were all vital details.

The man calling upon the family gave his card to the servant who answered the door, and the servant would put it on a silver tray. If the requested recipient was home, the servant would take the card to them to tell them who was waiting to see them.

Afternoons were reserved for these sorts of visits, with 30 minutes allowed per visit. The hostess would wear an afternoon dress and could often be found writing letters, working with lace or wool, or sketching.

If they weren’t home at the time, the calling card would be left on the tray as a memo of who called. The receiver could either send back a card in request of another visit or decline to send one back as a polite method of saying “we don’t want to ever see your face again.”

Also worth mentioning are carte-de-visites, small portraits, which were all the craze in the 19th century and traded between friends.

Think of it like today’s social media. You can try to ‘friend’ someone on Facebook, and they either accept it and you’re best buddies forever, or they ignore you and you’re left waiting for eternity for a reply that will never come.

OldDesignShop_CallingCardFondWishes

Those Victorians really like their hand-flower combination.

Men’s cards only had their names and addresses or organizations they belonged to. Women’s cards were bigger in size but were often just as simple in format. However, there were very intricate calling cards as well, as you can see above.

Special attention was paid to the turning down of card’s corners:

  • The upper right hand corner folded down meant a visit in person.
  • The upper left corner folded down meant a visit to say congratulations.
  • The lower left corner folded down gave condolences.
  • The lower right corner folded down meant goodbye.

The rules of calling card etiquette could go on and on, and they evolved over time.

By the early 20th century the calling-card craze had gone down quite a bit. The Edwardian era still used them, just to a lesser extent, and the practice slowly died away.

Next time you friend request someone on Facebook, just be grateful that the etiquette is a little more straightforward.

What would you want your calling card to look like?