Coin collecting got a shot in the arm back in 1999. That’s when literally tens of millions of people — many of them children — began collecting the 50 States Quarters.
That’s now over a decade ago, and many of the young collectors who started picking 50 States Quarters from their parents’ pockets and purses are now grown up.
So, that begs the question — how do we get the next generation of children interested in coin collecting?
Admittedly, it can be hard to pull young kids away from their video games and cell phones and get them interested in collecting coins, but it’s far from impossible. In fact, many children pick right up on coin collecting after an appealing introduction to this ages-old hobby.
Here are 5 ideas that you might want to use if you’d like to get a young child involved in coin collecting…
Getting Young Coin Collectors Involved
One thing that makes getting a young coin collector involved so easy is that, despite the draws of electronic games and hot new toys, kids still can be awed by something as simple as holding a 100-year old coin in their hands or seeing something as novel as a 2-cent piece.
While no one can guarantee that any of these tips will 100-percent work in getting a young person to become a die-hard coin collector, these tips should at the very least help in sparking numismatic interest in children.
Give Old Coins To A Kid
The one thing that often stands in the way of many young children from becoming active coin collectors is the relative expense of coin collecting at a young age. While anybody can collect coins for face value right from pocket change, obtaining even cheap old coins (like Indian Head cents, Buffalo nickels, and Mercury dimes) can take a week or more of allowance money.
The best way to help a young child overcome that hurdle is to give a gift of some old coins. Nothing too expensive, mind you, but consider giving a gift of a few old, cheap coins that the child has never seen before.
Being able to hold and call their own some neat old coins can lend them a sense of curiosity to want to learn something about those old coins and collect more of them.
The Coin Folder-Filling Game
Kids love games. So why not combine the fun of a game with the fun of coin collecting?
Of course, you don’t want to make this ‘game’ too hard, at least at first. Try something simple, like completing the 1975 to date Lincoln Cent album from Whitman. Another exciting (but simple) goal would be to find one each of the 50 States Quarters (made from 1999 to 2008) and place those coins in a 50 States quarter album.
As the young coin collector starts filling up these books, a coin collection will start to build and the child will want to start moving onto more challenging goals — perhaps finishing the Jefferson nickel series, or even something complex like a 20th century coin set.
Exhibit Old Coins
This idea is somewhat like the first tip, though you aren’t actually giving any coins to the young collector. The difference is that, in this case, you’ll be able to break out some of the more expensive and scarcer coins in your coin collection.
Though you might not be able to afford giving away Draped Bust silver dollars or Saint-Gaudens double eagles, these are pieces that’ll impress most any child and definitely spark an interest in learning more about the history of coins.
Odd denominations (like 2 cent pieces, trimes, and the 20 cent coin) are the best bet to show young people. Think… how often has the average grade schooler seen (or held) such pieces? Though you may be reluctant in giving away such more-expensive coins, these should definitely be on your “show and tell” list if you’re hoping to engage the budding interests of a young coin collector.
Talk About Old Coins
You’re probably thinking ‘what young child will want to hear me rattle on about old coins?’… Well, make it interesting. There are so many engaging things to talk about in numismatics that’ll keep kids waiting to hear the next word.
Talk about the 2 cent piece — the first coin to ever have the motto ‘IN GOD WE TRUST.’
Explain the tale behind the 1909 VDB cent — and why Victor David Brenner’s initials were removed for 8 years. Then, with a magnifying glass and a recent penny in hand, see if the child can find the VDB now (obverse, under the Lincoln’s shoulder). Let the young numismatist keep the coin if he or she can spot the initials and tell you where they are.
Does the young child ave a favorite animal or subject? Get talking about it and nudge into the discussion something about a coin that has a design featuring that favorite thing. If you have the coin on hand, that’s all the better.
These, of course, are just a few ideas, and you’ll be able to think of some more of your own in no time flat.
Coin Show Time
There’s probably no better way to initiate a children in coin collecting than to bring them to a coin show. There are tens of thousands of coins for the child to enjoy and look at, plenty of opportunities to pass along something new, and many coin shows now have seminars and lessons geared directly to young coin collectors.
Grab a lunch, shoot the breeze with the kid about coin collecting, and don’t forget to offer a small shopping allowance for the child to use at the show!
My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I'm also the editor at CDN Publishing (a trusted source for the price of U.S. rare coins), editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I've contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I've also authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins — and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!