If you are a constant reader of my column, you know that I enjoy
what I do.
I think numismatics is the world’s greatest hobby, and I love
being a part of it. And, collecting coins, tokens, medals and paper
money is indeed a hobby. I know that the word “industry” has taken
hold, and perhaps it is more classy and serious than hobby.
To me, an industry is a business that manufactures or otherwise
produces things — the automobile industry, the agricultural industry,
the fishing industry. I am not sure I could have fun being an “industrialist.”
Many other branches of activity are best called an art, a
profession, a hobby or some other term. A question of semantics often,
as definitions can be scarce.
I do not believe that surgeons belong to the medical industry, but
are part of the medical arts and profession, these words often being interchangeable.
On the other hand, Johnson & Johnson, maker of pills, plasters
and potions, is indeed a part of the medical industry.
Perhaps if numismatics is called an industry long enough it will
be defined as one. After all, we have the Industry Council for
Tangible Assets, which, I suppose, to someone lobbying for a change in
legislation sounds more important than the Hobby Council for Tangible Assets.
I guess the two can go together. As a writer I consider myself
part of the profession or art of journalism. On the other hand,
Whitman Publishing LLC and Amos Press (Coin World’s parent
company) are indeed members of the publishing industry. I hasten to
say that the U.S. Mint is indeed a coin industry as are counterfeiting
shops in China. And the “coin doctors” we all read about are perhaps
Perhaps a hobbyist does not pay much attention to making a profit,
but concentrates on the art, history and romance of numismatics. Such
a person may spend long evening hours simply reading about an
interesting item. Of course, making a profit upon selling one’s
collection is desirable — but for skilled hobbyists this often happens
without even trying!
Perhaps a numismatic industrialist concentrates on making a profit
and cares little about the other part.
Q. David Bowers is chairman emeritus of Stack’s Bowers Galleries
and numismatic director of Whitman Publishing LLC. He can be reached
at his private email, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or at Q. David Bowers, LLC, Box 1804, Wolfeboro, NH 03894.