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Hooray for Piggy Banks
January 05, 2009

Coin collecting was a very popular pastime during the Great Depression and it could become so again as the nation wades through the current recessionary swamp.

But is there evidence? Very little so far, but I saw a story online about an increase in demand for piggy banks. Yes, that's right, piggy banks.

If that is indeed the case, noncollectors are beginning to focus on coins in a positive way. That is an achievement. Coins to noncollectors are often treated as pejoratives.

I have written for at least 20 years that when a movie wants to indicate a cheapskate, it shows a character tipping a hotel bellman or grocery bagboy with a coin or two. This is no way to increase the prestige of coinage.

Even the way we in the hobby promoted the 50 states quarter program could uncharitably be interpreted as denigrating the importance of coins. Collectors often found themselves extolling the virtue of looking for state quarters in change - not by us - but by kids. That's not a bad thing, but on the prestige scale something for cheapskate adults and kids does not exactly communicate something of lasting value.

But the basic piggy bank can help change that. If adults are actually counting their pennies to help pay the bills, it will restore a sense of dignity to the process. A few of them will actually look at them and notice the varying designs. All it takes is a few seconds and a question to form in the mind of a person and he or she might turn into a collector as a result.

I have always saved my change, but my coins end up in an old yogurt container after I take a look at them.

If buying piggy banks helps others to look at their coins, that will be of great long-term benefit for the hobby.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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