YO HO HO HO… And a bottle of rum? While you might prefer a hard drink after this long and winding year, it’s finally time for some cheery ho-ho-ho-ing as we an at the holiday season and the long-awaited end of the 2020 calendar.
And while they often say there isn’t a Santa Claus in numismatics, there’s some good news for proverbial Virginia: Yes, there is indeed a Santa Claus. And that Santa Claus can be you. While you may not have the time and resources to shower glad tidings upon all the good coin collectors around the world, you can at least spread numismatic cheer to your family and friends… even the naughtier one if you care. But take note: A silver bar generally costlier than a lump of coal.
Playing Santa Claus is nothing new for many numismatists. Even the late, great Ed Reiter, the longtime former Senior Editor of COINage, whose personality was larger than life, once emceed a Numismatic Literary Guild awards bash playing none other than “Anthony Claus.” It was all in good fun, a holly jolly parody skit in which he paid satirical homage to the witty commemorative coin expert and hobby personality (and his dear friend) Anthony J. Swiatek. But seriously, y o t need to don a red Santa Claussto give the gift of numismatic light t those on your gift-giving list. Not that it wouldn’t help, of course!
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or Festivus, the mid-winter holidays will be taking on a new look this year. Staying at home, minimizing bricks-and-mortar shopping, and avoiding crowds in light of the pandemic may be the only way we experience the holidays I the year due to COVID-19. Even the I e-honored family traditions of gathering around the table for holiday dinners or airing grievances around the aluminum Festivus pole may be most safely done this year through video conferencing.
But a very COVID Christmas or healthy Hanukah doesn’t have to mean withholding gifts from the ones we love. And if you’re in the numismatic spirit, as I hope you are, then some of the gift ideas here are sure to bring plenty of blast-white MS70 smiles to your dearest friends and family members.
GIFT IDEAS FROM THE EXPERTS
Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC) founder John Albanese loves giving his numismatic and nonnumismatic family and friends gifts that relate to the hobby he has loved for decades. So, what can those in his gift-giving circle expect from the man who helped establish Professional Coin Grading Service in 1986 and founded Numismatic Guaranty Corporation the following year? “Get them a collector’s club membership to their favorite grading service or membership to a coin club.”
But he tells hobbyists to avoid buying coins for fellow hobbyists. “If you get them a coin, they may appreciate the sentiment behind it but might not like the coin itself,” he says, noting that buying coins – as well as the preference for grade and eye appeal of these pieces – is often based on highly personal preferences. “You don’t buy shirts as gifts for people because they never wear them. So don’t buy coins for collectors.”
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy coins for non-collectors or beginners. These could be perfect gifts for those types of recipients. “Proof sets make terrific gifts for non-collectors, especially proof sets for the year of the recipient’s birth. Proof sets from 1956 on are generally quite affordable.”
“If the collector is younger, say 30 years old, you might buy an American Silver Eagle from the year of birth. Or, you could buy a Morgan dollar from a century before that collector’s birth,” he says, remarking this can be another affordable yet historically interesting gift that has some numismatic value. “This works well for those who were born in the 1980s or 1990s, such as buying an 1881 Morgan dollar for someone born in 1981, and so on.”
Award-winning numismatic author and former American Numismatic Association President David L. Ganz advises any numismatic book under $50 makes a great gift. “I guarantee you will glean more than $50 in knowledge and wisdom from a book at the price.” In addition to giving the gift of books, Ganz loves stuffing stockings with silver and gold. “American Eagle gold coins make terrific coins, whether in uncirculated or proof. They are also perfect for displaying and can help jumpstart someone into investing in gold.”
But if gold is too expensive, try silver. “This is the time to buy American Silver Eagles, as the original [Heraldic Eagle] reverse is coming to an end after 2020,” he notes. “The natural end of this subtype gives people a beginning and ending bookend to the series and can also help increase the popularity of collecting the series down the line as more people know how many coins are needed to complete the series.”
Another excellent silver coin is the 5-Ounce America The Beautiful silver quarter. “They are huge silver coins with beautiful designs and can be purchased for relatively little over the spot. They could make great gifts for people who live in the particular state honored on the coin they receive.”
CHECK THAT LIST TWICE
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, or Festivus, there are plenty of gift ideas perfect for everyone on your gift-giving list, from the never-ever-yet-a-collector to the lifetime numismatist. Here’s a sleigh full of ideas:
COIN CLUB MEMBERSHIPS
Coin clubs form the backbone of our hobby, yet fewer people have been joining in recent years. Even before social distancing brought a temporary end to in-person meetings, coin collectors had increasingly found their coin camaraderie with users on internet hobby discussion boards rather than in-person club meetings. Yet, nothing compares to the experience of belonging to a coin club – a place where periodical get-togethers for lectures, auctions, potlucks, or good ol’ coin talk can help build bonds between coin collectors that eventually become lifelong friendships.
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