By Tom Carrier
In the middle of a hot summer, I toured the cool cash at the 36th annual Whitman Coin & Currency Convention in Baltimore, Md. What I found, besides about 500 dealers specializing in currency, coins, gold, and platinum, was the Kid’s Korner.
Pat Finner, vice president of the American Numismatic Association, was managing the Kid’s Korner, a special program where kids are treated to free coins, books, pamphlets and special programs.
“We encourage families to come to our show, because we believe that coin collecting is one of the few collecting opportunities that a family can enjoy,” Finner said. “Everyone can have a coin collection and pass it down to their children, their grandchildren and their great grandchildren. They not only have the advantage of having something of value, they have the sentimental value also.”
Coins are sometimes given as gifts to a child from an uncle, aunt, grandma for their birthday, first communion or other holiday, and Finner suggests that each child keep a diary to remember where the coin came from. “So, their coin collection is truly personal. It’s theirs and theirs alone.”
For 10 years, Finner has been working the Kid’s Korner at the show. “Many children are just bored out of their minds,” she said. “So, we find that by having programs and classes and mini-seminars that are very interactive, the children stay interested.”
I was fascinated by the grab bag ay the Kid’s Korner. Here, a very large bucket of all types of old, collectible coins was set out and each child was able to reach in with one hand and grab as many of these coins as they could. All the coins were put into a plastic bag and the bag was given to the child to take home. All for free. Where did all the coins come from, I asked Finner? “We have a very supportive dealer community here at the Baltimore show. The dealers donate all the coins in our grab bag.”
“A lot of our material comes from the Bureau of Printing and Engraving and the U.S. Mint. There’s tons of free stuff out there if you know how to get it. It’s a wonderful opportunity for teachers and parents to come to the show and we’ll tell them how to get everything free to help their children collect.”
It’s true. Here, coin booklets from Whitman Publishing were given to each child, and they were to fill a booklet of collectable pennies as fast as they can. At the end of 30 minutes, they took home what they completed.
The Bureau of Printing and Engraving and the U.S. Mint not only provided materials, but also a small bag of actual shredded currency, guaranteed to be worth $25—if you can paste it back together. A bureau engraver was also on hand to demonstrate how a $5 or $10 bill is painstakingly engraved.
“It’s very exciting for me, and I love the look on the (children’s) face when you give them the free stuff. It helps them collect. I’m privileged to do it,” Finner concluded with a smile.
A video on the Kid’s Korner at the Whitman Coin & Currency Convention can be viewed here.
Tom Carrier is a general Worthologist, with an expertise in a wide variety of subjects.
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