As I write these words I’ve just returned from the Florida United
Numismatists convention, held in Tampa Jan. 6 to 9. The usual venue is
Orlando, but accommodations were not available in that city this year.
I hadn’t been to a FUN convention since 2005, as I have been in
New York City instead. By circumstances that I can’t figure out, the
annual New York International Numismatic Convention at the
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and American Numismatic Society Gala are also
held the first week of January, and I have not been able to be in two
places at the same time.
I don’t know if my comments on the “graying of the hobby” made in
this column last summer rank as one of the top 10 stories of 2010, but
certainly a lot of feedback has resulted. At the FUN show, Alan V.
Weinberg, a friend for perhaps 50 years and a frequent contributor to
Coin World, gave me a letter to the editor of the Maine
Antique Digest, January 2011 issue, from Dan Sullivan, of North
Bellmore, N.Y. Under the title of “Young Collectors,” he stated that
as a son of a dealer in antiques, he had witnessed the scarcity of
young buyers in that field of antiques as well — not much different
from rare coins.
“Young people have little or no time to devote to the arts and
collections. These are practices for those who have money and time to
spare,” Sullivan commented. He observed that no longer is a college
degree the passport to success and security in later life. The
“all-American job” no longer exists. No security exists anymore, and
without a sense of security it is difficult to start collecting
antiques. And, I might add, “or coins.”
Alan told me that one of his acquaintances, college degree in hand
and with an excellent academic record, has not been able to find work
to match her ambition and is now waiting on tables.
The world is changing. Computers do a lot that used to require
trained people. Computers, with a little bit of human assistance, can
design skyscrapers, buy and sell securities, fly airplanes and build
SUVs. And, as I have mentioned in this column, what with certified
coins and electronic pricing, even a monkey can be a coin dealer.
The point is that the human element is being lost in many areas.
As I see it, collecting coins (and antiques and similar items) is an
escape from computers, as the personal aspect is still there. And, all
day long at the FUN show I greeted lots of real people, fun to do. I
had a good time, while my laptop computer remained in my briefcase.
Q. David Bowers is chairman of the board of Stack’s and numismatic
director of Whitman Publishing LLC. He can be reached at his private
or at Q. David Bowers, LLC, Box 1804, Wolfeboro, NH 03894.