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Gimmick or Wave of the Future?
July 23, 2010

Last week's Numismatic News online poll results are worth pondering.

The question asked whether U.S. Mint engravers should be given the freedom to develop commemorative designs using color, holograms and other advanced features appearing on many world collector issues?

A majority said no, but the margin was rather thin at 56 percent no and 42 percent yes.

If 42 percent of collectors would be willing to collect these nontraditional numismatic issues, that could be quite a market.

This question should be explored further. Are the respondents on the “no” side all on the older side of the demographic divide and the “yes” side younger, or are the views held equally by all ages of collectors?

That is the key question in my mind.

If younger collectors are in favor and they already constitute 42 percent in favor of the new alloys, colors and holograms, that would clearly be where the U.S. hobby will go.
Certainly major world mints that I respect have jumped into the field.

One of the most interesting to me is the Austrian Mint because it combines traditional skillful die engraving with new alloys.

I gave a Coin of the Year Most Innovative Coin Award earlier this year to Austria for its 25-euro Fascination Light silver-niobium coin.

I commented at the presentation that I couldn’t believe the lightbulb could be made so interesting. The coin has an old gas lamplighter on one side and the new-fangled lightbulbs on the other.

Take a look and see what you think.

You will immediately note that I am sending you to a ShopNumismaster page.

Look at it, think about it and then comment here if you would like. I am sure you will have an opinion.

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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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