Coin Clubs and Organizations
Involving your family in your coin collecting hobby is important, but it is not the only social aspect of the hobby. Coin collecting is a highly organized hobby. There are clubs to join, learned societies to go to, shows and conventions to attend, and competitive displays to compete in.
There may not necessarily be a coin collectors’ club in your town, but unless you live in a very rural area, there is likely a club nearby somewhere. The problem isn't necessarily if a club exists, but in how to find it. Most clubs for coin collectors meet monthly or bi-weekly, often in libraries, churches, banks, or other public places.
You can usually find out about a local club through collector friends, by attending a local coin show, by contacting the chamber of commerce, or by contacting a nearby coin dealer.
Readership surveys conducted by a major coin hobby publication indicate that of collectors who consider themselves to be seriously involved in the more social aspects of the hobby, a majority do not travel more than about 50 miles from their home or workplace to participate in coin collecting activities.
Local clubs typically have a modest membership that may or may not include some dealers interested in buying and selling coins. Some clubs have meetings at which you have the opportunity to buy, sell, or trade, while other clubs may want only show and tell rather than commercial activity at their meetings. Some local clubs have their own hobby publications, too. If no club exists near you, why not start your own?
There may also be a local coin club for children who collect. Sometimes these are clubs that meet after school, while other times they may be a division of a local club for adults. Check with local schools for the whereabouts of these organizations.
States including California (California Numismatic Association), Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists), Florida (Florida United Numismatists), and others have statewide organizations for individuals, local clubs, and commercial coin dealers to belong. These statewide organizations typically have a large annual convention at which they hold their business meetings as well as conduct educational forums, facilitate buying and selling, hold banquets, and more. Some of these organizations also have their own hobby publications worth reading.
There are some even larger regional organizations, one of which is the Central States Numismatic Society. Such organizations draw an audience of both members and of nonmembers from a larger geographic area that want to attend their coin show events. An organization encompassing this large a geographic area also has the luxury of holding their conventions at different locations each time they meet. This can be an advantage first for the collector who doesn't want to travel too far from home, and second for the collector who wants to be in contact with collectors and dealers from a different region from where he lives. This gives the opportunity to obtain additional merchandise not necessarily available more locally.
Regional coin collecting organizations sometimes simply encompass a larger geographic area from which to draw their membership than do local clubs, while others are umbrella groups to which local clubs can belong.
In several countries in which coin collecting is particularly popular, there are national coin collector organizations. These include Belgium, Canada, Great Britain, and Japan. In the United States the national organization is the American Numismatic Association (ANA).
There are many advantages to belonging to a national organization. For example, ANA membership includes a subscription to the monthly magazine called The Numismatist, access to borrowing books by mail from its extensive library, connecting with other collectors with similar interests, opportunities to buy special insurance to cover the value of your coin collections, and participation in the organization on many different levels.
The ANA holds two weeklong conventions every year. The location of these conventions changes, which is good for collectors, because at one time or another the convention will be reasonably close to where the collectors live. ANA conventions are worth attending. There is a mammoth gathering of professional dealers selling everything from inexpensive coins to some of the world's most valuable coins and bank notes, educational forums, specialty and regional club meetings, competitive displays, social events, and activities for noncollecting spouses.
The ANA was founded in 1891. Its headquarters, research library, and museum are in Colorado Springs, Colorado, adjacent to Colorado College. There are several classes of membership in this organization. These include general membership with annual dues, club memberships for clubs that want to belong to the larger organization, and lifetime membership for very dedicated collectors.
Young Numismatists Organizations
Local, regional, and national organizations often have special activities for young numismatists. This is important if you want to encourage your children to participate in your hobby interests. It is also important if a young member of your family takes an early interest in coin collecting, even if none of the adults in the family do.
The ANA is among many coin collecting organizations that hold mock coin auctions and other activities for children during their conventions or meetings. These auctions involve real coins donated by collectors and coin dealers. The YNs purchase the coins by bidding with play money, and they get to keep what they have won.
Another way to enjoy the social aspect of coin collecting is to join one of the many scholarly coin collecting societies. Coin collecting can be more than the assembling of a group of coins as a hobby pursuit, and it can be more than a way to make money as a business. Although coin collectors are often referred to as numismatists, a numismatist is actually a person who studies coins and currency to learn more about society.
You can learn a lot by studying coins, regardless of if they are ancient or modern. The images or iconography on them is important. It shows the skill level of the die engraver, the propaganda surrounding the images chosen, and more. The metal from which coins are produced, the quality of the minting process, and more can all be studied. Early trade routes, the economics of a region at a particular time in history, and even the likeness or name of some long forgotten king are sometimes brought to light through these studies. Some archaeological excavations and underwater wreck salvage operations include an on-site numismatist for this reason.
You do not have to be a member of a coin collecting organization to attend its conventions, but to get the most out of attending such events it is worth the modest annual dues most require.
This may appear to be highbrow or formidably academic to many collectors, but such studies and the organizations that focus on these studies are for the most part still dominated by collectors rather than by university professors and professional archaeologists. Many of the collectors that belong to such organizations are simply either advanced or extremely focused on the areas of coin collecting that may be emphasized by these societies.
The foremost such society in the United States is the American Numismatic Society (ANS) in New York. The ANS does not hold any conventions; however they do conduct symposiums periodically at which new discoveries or conclusions about specific areas of coins are presented, usually in a more consumer-friendly environment than may be imagined by many collectors who have never attended these events. The ANS has its own museum, museum curatorial staff, periodic publications, and research library. This is not a lending library such as is offered by the ANA, but the library is open to the public. There are two classes of membership: general membership and fellowship. A fellow of the ANS has voting rights on some of the internal workings of the organization.
Other scholarly national organizations exist in Great Britain, Canada, and other countries. There are also specialty organizations that are not national in scope yet offer a scholarly slant for people with an interest in particularly specialized areas of collecting. Most of these offer members excellent journals, meetings typically held at regional or national coin shows, and the opportunity to learn more about the specialty they want to collect.
There are also more localized clubs, such as the Chicago Coin Club, that are hybrids. The CCC, as an example, goes out of its way to have high caliber speakers at their monthly club meetings, holds meetings during nearby regional coin shows, publishes high quality journals, and holds social events including banquets at which spousal participation is encouraged.