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Old Collectors

Tom Becker

You Take The Kids. Let Me Have The Old Folks.

I recently spoke to a Garden Club group. Looking around the room, my guess was the youngest member of the audience was the Century plant. At least this time around I knew I wouldn't need to answer any questions about rare coins and long term investment.

Knowing what I was in for in advance, I focused by brief presentation on the value of discovering a hobby when you have time to enjoy it. This was the first time I'd given a talk on the subject. As I rambled along, my words began to make sense even to me. Let's see if I can convince you that we should be doing more to introduce senior citizens to our hobby.

It seems the modern child is overwhelmed with ways to utilize their spare time. Society is obsessed with making sure they never experience a dull moment. Introducing a youngster to coin collecting only adds another item to a long menu of activities that must be sandwiched between sports practice, video games and homework. Conversely, the older person's schedule of events is shrinking. There is less mandatory work and diminished physical activity. Often, the older person is looking for something new and interesting to do that is not merely a scaled down version of previous accomplishments. It can't be very satisfying to only be doing less of the same old thing.

Coin collecting provides the older person with an enormously flexible avocation. The collector may be content to spend the better part of a day reading about 19th Century Canadian tokens. On Saturday they are out and about enjoying an active day prowling around antique and coin shops searching for little treasures and more coin books.

Gaining maturity has often taught the older collector the value of patience and planning. Unlike younger counterparts, they are seldom overwhelmed by an urgent need to have some of everything right now. Like fine wine, they are content to sip the hobby instead of trying to gulp it down. My experience with older new collectors is that most seem to innately grasp the concept that acquiring a coin is the beginning of an adventure, not the end. A single coin can generate many hours of enjoyable research and further discovery. These days, when an older person discovers coin collecting the new interest often provides a good reason to learn more about the high tech world. I have one friend who spent his working life painting houses. He never had a reason to touch a computer. Once he began a coin collection, he quickly saw value in being connected to the Internet. Learning how to use a digital camera seems very important. Looking for coins on the various electronic trading venues gave him a very good reason to turn off the television reruns.

If you know any older people you might want to consider introducing them to our hobby. As with those of any age, how the new collector reacts to the exposure can be quite unpredictable. Don't be surprised if you contribute to creating a gray haired monster. On doctor's orders, a lady I know takes frequent walks. Now she walks the half mile to the bank where she drives the friendly tellers crazy by swapping a few rolls of searched coins for fresh batches to sort. Based on my suggestion, a neighbor purchased a Canadian commemorative dollar to give as gift to a new grandchild. Three days later, he called to inquire about the possibility of acquiring a coin from each of the countries that have had Elizabeth II on their coins. His naive enthusiasm reminded me of an excited kid. His curiosity has led to the purchase of several books and he's in the process of compiling a checklist of the coins he'd like to have. That he happens to be 83 years old has done nothing to slow down his great interest in a new hobby.


Tom Becker is a regular contributor to the Canadian Coin Reference Site, you can direct your questions directly to Tom easily by or visit Tom's website @


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