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As I See It, Numismatics is a Family Affair


PCGS-graded Morgan Dollars like this one can make fantastic gifts for people to whom you hope to spread some numismatic love, whether they be kids, grandkids, siblings, or others. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.

Some folks will remember the hit CBS sitcom Family Affair, which ran from 1966 to 1971. Actors Brian Keith and Sebastian Cabot starred as two bachelors who suddenly found themselves surrogate parents of three children whose parents were killed in a car crash. The television family exuded warmth and love, both which felt real even to my brother and me when we watched this show as children.

Kids know when someone cares! That’s why it’s important for families to engage with them – something that can help bridge the generational gap. So how do we get and keep our younger family members interested and engaged? I’ve always believed it doesn’t take much of a spark to ignite a conflagration. Sometimes years and even decades might pass while that interest smolders like a fire waiting only for the opportunity to burn. This is the case when older coin collectors try passing on their numismatic passions to younger generations.

My Journey As A Young Numismatist

When I was a kid, I knew my dad was fascinated by coins, but he had little time to pursue numismatics. My dad would have loved to spend more time fostering his numismatic curiosities, but the fact of the matter was rent, food, and gas came first. Despite the distractions, I knew my dad loved coins just as much as I do today. He had infected me with the numismatic bug when I was four or five years old, but I didn’t know it yet.

One of my fondest memories is of my dad attending a show with me in Pittsburg, Kansas, in 1978 where I had a table. I was 17. He hadn’t really engaged with the hobby for 12 to 15 years by that point because of his job responsibilities, but it was as if he had been doing it full time for years. It’s easy when you love something. We had a blast!

One of the biggest reasons I pursued numismatics was it represented a level playing field for me, even as a teenager. I couldn’t drive or vote, but I could buy and sell coins as if I was an adult for at least a little while! My goodness, it felt so amazing. I couldn’t wait to go to the next coin show or coin shop.

If you had the money to buy a coin – you could buy it. Step right up! That being said, with that freedom came the ability to make some absolute whopper mistakes, too. I didn’t like anyone looking over my shoulder – even Dad. And yet, I felt empowered. At some basic level I understood the financial and business potential that rare coins represented for anyone, including a teenage kid!

I did listen to other collectors and dealers because they had something I wanted. I was told that “you’re going to make mistakes, but try not to repeat them.” As they say, “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.”

Planting A Seed

Using a shared interest to cross the generational gap makes sense on so many levels. Common interests generate conversations, and where better to share interests we enjoy than by making our numismatic endeavors “family affairs”? Take an inlaw, brother, sister, niece, nephew, or especially children and grandchildren along when you attend shows or visit coin shops.

Buy them a coin or a coin book. While an American Silver Eagle, proof set, or mint set are great gift ideas to celebrate a date of birth or anniversary, you might try something different – like a PCGS-graded Morgan or Peace Dollar.

Make a point of showing and sharing knowledge about some of your PCGS coins to younger members of your family when they visit. Text images of your favorite PCGS coins. If there is some interest, share links to some of the many free and informative online resources at

I’ve written in the past about the concept of “planting a seed or idea” of numismatics with others because of the pleasure that pursuit has brought me. Even as a kid, once I had been collecting for a short while, my appetite for any coin knowledge was voracious.

Curiously, sometimes years or decades after initial numismatic encounters with them, I’ve been approached by people who ask if I’m still involved with coins. Some of these folks follow up with questions about coins or the hobby. It is amazing what people remember.

I’ve seen the eyes light up on people of various ages when they catch the numismatic bug. That’s why I enjoy sharing my love of numismatics, and I hope you’ll share your passion for our hobby with others, too!

Coin Collecting: Basics

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