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The King of Hobbies

Brian R. Smith

1st prize Speech written and presented by Brian R. Smith (in 1978 at age 14) at Our Lady of Lourdes Separate School in downtown Toronto, Canada.

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow students and judges,

Coin collecting was, at one time considered the “Hobby of Kings”, but today it ranks as the “King of Hobbies”, having surpassed even stamp collecting in popularity.

I am pleased to be given the opportunity today to share with you some of the joys of one of my favourite pastimes, namely coin collecting or numismatics, as it is known to millions of coin, medal, and token collectors that take the hobby seriously.

Coin collecting teaches us much about history, languages, geography, economics, and many other interesting facts about past and present life on earth. Besides all these things, it is an ideal way to save money, provided you keep only uncirculated current coins of all denominations and dates. This hobby is also an ideal one for old and retired people.

Every one of us is, in our own way, really a coin collector. You or your parents and other relatives have tucked away a few coins that you received in your changed. It could have been an Australian cent that is the same size as ours, or a British shilling piece that you accepted as a twenty five cent piece. Or the older coin you saw in your pocket and put it away to later find it was worth considerably more than face value. The opportunity still exists today to find small fortunes in your pocket.

People don’t collect anything and everything but they specialize. One for example might only collect: Canadian coins, Canadian paper money, foreign and ancient coins or the funny shaped money used by African tribes.

The hobby of coin collecting or numismatics is so popular that thousands of coin clubs exist in North America, including ten right here in Toronto. Each coin club holds an annual coin show at which members display their most prized possessions. The coins and medals in these displays are accompanied by notes telling about them. Trophies are awarded for the most educational display, another good indication that education and not value is the most important aspect to the hobby. Also at the shows there are coin dealers who bring lots of coins that they wish to sell to other coin dealers and collectors.

If a new collector wants information about their coin and cannot obtain it from the library there are many coin shops that can tell you how much your coin is worth.

There is one major problem which collectors encounter; this problem is called the counterfeiting of coins. The crooks, as we call them, only counterfeit very expensive coins therefore the everyday collector rarely has to face this problem. For those collectors who want to learn about counterfeit coins, there are counterfeit detection seminars which they can attend. By going to these seminars, they will learn how to distinguish counterfeit coins from genuine ones. These seminars can always be found taking place at major coin shows and for a small fee, anyone can attend.

To help the collector in his quest for knowledge, many books have been written on the hobby of numismatics. As a matter of fact more books have been written on coin collecting than any other hobby, amounting to thousands of volumes. Coin books usually record political events, such as the moon landings of which hundreds of commemorative medals were issued or great Presidents or even famous buildings.

The hobby then is not just about making money but finding out what the event on the coin means and therefore getting to know world events and leaders better.

I wouldn’t advise anyone to go out and buy a metal detector and go looking on the beach for valuable coins because the coins are most likely to be recent dates dropped by swimmers or are so badly corroded that they are not worth putting into your collection.

For the beginner I recommend you look in your change and get rolls from the bank to see how many different dates you can find and go to some coin show and learn as much as you can about “The Hobby of Kings”, today “The King of Hobbies.”

Thank you.

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