By Tom Becker
From The Coin Collector, Issue #124, March 11, 2002
This week I conclude an article written in 2002 by the late Tom Becker -- an "infomercial" he called it at the time -- about "Kids and Coins." I hope that this article encourages parents, grandparents and other collectors to consider the benefits of numismatics for young people.
Getting a Young Person Started
One of the nice things about kids and coins is that a little exposure to the hobby is usually all it takes to kindle an interest or show that, at least for now, there is none.
If your family has saved a few old coins you already have the "starter kit." When looking at an Indian cent, silver dollar or a few world coins, the child should at least be curious. If you have no old coins, spending $20 or less at a local coin shop and giving these coins as a birthday or holiday present is another good way to make the introduction.
A nice choice would be a set of coins minted in the child's birth year. I've never met anyone who didn't appreciate this gift. Even if they have no interest in collecting coins, this et is something they will save and enjoy.
It is also wise to have a copy of some coin related publication on hand to offer the child who shows any interest in the hobby. The Guide Book is ideal, and perhaps your local book store will have other titles. It is important to buy items that are more than price guides, for coin prices are just one part of the hobby.
When introducing children to coin collecting, it is a common mistake to initially do too much. Many would be chemists have been discouraged after receiving a chemistry set before they were ready for it. The last thing we want to do is create the impression the collecting coins is all your idea and something you want the child to do, or that he or she should start by collecting die varieties of 1851-dated cents. There are so many possibilities that your child will enjoy picking his or her own.
Coin collecting should not be made to seem like a required activity. Our purpose in gently exposing kids to the hobby is to help them discover it on their own. After all, you already know for your kid to learn about computers was not a required activity—and see all that it led to!
Start slowly, with a few coins, or a visit to a coin shop, a book or two or three. Plant the seed and watch it grow! Encourage your child to share enthusiasms, "finds," and things that are interesting. Be there to enjoy the hobby when the child wants you to get you involved.
Set up some sort of buying budget, and see that it stays in place, at lease with regard to your own contributions to it.
Kids and coins go together. It's a great hobby for young people. Collecting coins is also a very individual pursuit. It is extremely important to be receptive to the abilities and interests of every collector—should they be nine or ninety.
Which prompts me to conclude by saying that if you are 30 years old, or 50, or 83, many of these "getting started" guidelines are relevant.
I hope you've enjoyed this little discussion.