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Sleigh Bells Ringing
By Dr. R.S. "Bart" Bartanowicz, Coins Magazine
October 24, 2013

This article was originally printed in Coins Magazine.
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Our numismatist was running his Saturday errands. He was grumpy as several stores were obviously clearing shelves for Christmas. Merchants called this early arrival of merchandise “holiday creep.” Halloween goods were already on the floor. He mumbled, “Good grief. It’s only September.” At least the radio stations weren’t playing holiday music in September. No doubt, though, his favorite radio station would soon be dusting off different arrangements of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”

On the other hand, this got him to thinking about gift-giving. Over the years he had given proof sets and topical coins based on interests, as well as other things he thought the recipients would enjoy. He always looked for ideas in the advertisements of his favorite numismatic publications, such as Coins and Numismatic News.

What would he do this year? He was attracted to one-ounce silver rounds or ingots. These silver pieces usually depicted major religious holidays, whimsical topics and renderings of collector favorites like the Buffalo nickel. With silver prices down, the rounds were more affordable this year. He also wanted to ensure that the silver pieces were kept as mementos.

His keepsake drawer contained numerous items, such as a wristwatch from a family member that had been passed to him. It was inscribed.

He also found old sports medals that had been inscribed with his name. It was evident that inscribed items seemed to mean more to him. This solidified his decision to give out silver pieces that were inscribed with the recipient’s name and year of presentation.

Checking with one of his sons about his gift-giving plans, he got the response, “Dad, that’s a nice idea. The boys will appreciate it. By the way, am I also getting silver? A pound of silver or gold would be nice.”

This was worth a chuckle.

“Sure, son. I know with Christmas you revert back to being a kid again. Not that any man ever really grows up.”

So today’s story is quasi-numismatic. A silver round or ingot is not a coin. On the other hand, it’s a realistic gift for kids—at least far better than the socks and underwear that I would get as a Christmas present.

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A silver piece may seem cold, but the kids will hopefully appreciate the fact that it’s a precious metal and also has their names engraved. I just hope they don’t wear them as fancy dog tags or other fashion statements.

I’ve given out numismatic gift suggestions every year and, of course, will do so this year. I’ll break it down into two categories, youngster and adults.

For youngsters the U.S. Mint always has a wide array of offerings. I find some of the newer coins and commemoratives attractive and some not so much. The Presidential dollars are educational but may not appeal to every youngster.

The silver rounds/ingots that I wrote about are a real possibility as they can be found with all sorts of themes that might appeal to a youngster. There are advertisements in this magazine from several businesses that offer these products. A few vendors in fact offer engraving at a fairly reasonable price.

Most “brick and mortar” coin shops will also have these offerings. Of course, a real silver dollar would be a terrific gift.

For adults, you probably know what their interests are, such as hobbies and likes or dislikes. For instance, some folks carry a lucky coin or pocket piece that might be the year of their birth or just a lucky number. If they don’t have a lucky coin—give them one. It makes for a great conversation piece.

How about coin jewelry? I would never put a coin in a jewelry piece. Where the deed has been done, take a look at stick pins, tie tacks, tie bars, pedants and other pieces where coins have been used. Dealers and antique shops will often have these pieces.

Of course, world coins provide any number of different designs or topics. If you want some ideas, just browse through Krause Publications’ Standard Catalog of World Coins.

Check your favorite coin dealers for ideas and don’t neglect your local mom and pop coin shops. The bargain boxes at your local dealer or at a coin show can offer some interesting finds. A small bag of assorted world coins can be a lot of fun for adults and children. If the coins are for a child, a small world map would be a nice accompanying piece.

If you select a special coin that isn’t in a capsule or box go ahead and buy one. It’s worth the extra dollar or two. Additionally, coin shops and hobby stores often sell inexpensive clear plastic stands that one can display their prize on. Having a nice display will sweeten the gift all the more. A thoughtful gift doesn’t have to cost a lot and you have all the fun in the looking.

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