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Mr_Norris_LKNS's Blog

10 Jul 2018

Grading Your Way To A Type Set

Young Numismatists Exchange | Mr_Norris_LKNS

Being geared towards new, young collectors, our school club tries to emphasize the basics of numismatics... things like how to handle, store, and protect your collections; how to identify what you have; and how to grade items for condition (and hence value). Accordingly, one of our activities is the Coin Grading Project.Even more essential to a basic knowledge of numismatics, however, is simple exposure to the breadth of items covered by the term "numismatics". I remember when I was a kid being fascinated by coin and banknote designs that I had never seen before. Franklin half dollars hadn't been superseded by Kennedy halves for very long when I was born, but by the time I was old enough to notice the design of coins in my change, Franklin halves were long gone from circulation. The first time I saw one, I thought it was amazing... and then I saw a Walking Liberty half. Prior to that, I thought the Bicentennial series was really interesting both for the historical topic and just for being different from the norm, from their dual-date obverse to their themed reverse. I really like both the Franklins and the Walking LIberty halves to this day, and the Bicentennials, although pretty common, always make me a little sentimental. Yet, how many more designs in various denominations would have gone unnoticed, if I hadn't been given the opportunity to sort pennies from my dad's change jar or hadn't been given some Ike dollars by by brother, gotten bitten by the collecting bug, and bought a US coin price guide. The 20th century saw some beautiful designs on US coins, and most of which are still fairly affordable to the young collector to this day.So this year, we've decided to expand our Grading Project in such a way that will give the students more exposure to more US 20th century coins. Last year, our students could earn an LKNS medal if they would grade 13 different, specified US coins and review their grade determinations with a local expert. Starting this year, if they complete the first 13, they can earn a second award if they grade another series of US coins, different from the first. They can earn a third award if they grade a third series comprised of still different coins. Among the three series, a basic 20th century US type set can then be assembled, with a few additional coins beginning the expansion into the 21st century. If they complete all three grading projects, they will earn an additional recognition for completing the type set.Because some 20th century coins are more difficult (or more expensive) to obtain by a young student, we start our first grading set with some of the more common or less expensive ones; most could be gotten from change, with only a few possibly requiring a trip to the coin shop. The second and third grading sets gradually get harder to find, or more expensive to buy, likely requiring a trip to the coin shop. This is by design, to encourage the collector through initial success.Repetition is key to gaining grading expertise, so we simultaneously reward the students for every coin they take through the grading process, including duplicate types. If a student only wanted to grade wheat cents, for example, they wouldn't complete their grading project, but they could still earn the same amount of money for the annual auction.In the end, our club's goal is to have members who not only are familiar with US coins from the 20th century, but who also have some knowledge and experience in grading them, as well as have an interesting collection to show for their efforts.

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04 Apr 2018

Youth Club Curriculum and Activities

Young Numismatists Exchange | Mr_Norris_LKNS

Youth Club Curriculum Ideas and ActivitiesThe first year of the Legacy Knights Numismatic Society has been highly successful. We increased our membership from 13 last year to 18 this year. All but one returned and six new students joined. One of our members has completed the ANA's Dollar Project, a handful have become Coin Identification Experts, and 15 members have joined the ANA. One of our members even made it out to the Money Museum in Colorado Springs over spring break (a long way from us). LKNS has joined, as a club, both the ANA and the Central States Numismatic Society. You can find our club in the club listings of both organizations.Part of the fun we have is because we mix up the agenda between guest speakers and activities. For 3rd through 6th graders, listening to presentations for long periods of time can be a challenge. We have had interesting speakers present to us some very cool topics and we've really enjoyed what we saw and heard. But to keep a variety we don't do that every month. So we break things up by interspersing speakers with activities. We're developing a curriculum that involves projects from outside sources, as well as projects we've developed in-house. We try to use these activities to support an agenda of developing some good basic numismatic skills that every young numismatist should have.One of our first activities is the Coin Identity Challenge, where a member is given a coin and has to identify its specific type and variety. This gets them familiar with the Krause catalogs we have on the library reference shelf in school, and learn how to use them.Another activity is the ANA Dollar Project. This one is not hard to do, but it takes some effort to complete. All the instructions are on the ANA website. This project gets them familiar with the connection between history and numismatics. It also connects them to the ANA as they send in their projects and receive back their rewards. It also earns them about $50 worth (market value) of nice dollar coins!A third activity is the Coin Grading Project. We have selected specific types of US coins for them to find in their change or collections, then have them use the ANA's US coin grading standards to determine the grade they think it is. Then they compare notes with a local grading expert; if he would grade it differently, they find out why. When they are done, they are familiar with the process and standards of grading, and they are well on their way to a nice US coin type set!Through the ANA's Coins For A's program, we have gotten 15 LKNS members to join the ANA, which has reduced our club membership dues to $0!We also have club parties throughout the year: Christmas, the Society's Birthday in February, and our Annual Awards Party in May. Sometimes we play "Numismatic Jeopardy". Then there's the very popular Members Only Auction at the end of the year. We have gone on field trips to the local coin shop, the local area coin club, and the local annual coin show.One thing I'd like to also make part of our regular curriculum is an activity that works on care and safekeeping of one's collection. We have had a presentation on this in the past, but I'd like to develop a regular activity that reinforces the do's and don'ts of caring for numismatic items.We are looking to expand our program in the next year or two, to gradually offer inclusion of higher grade levels at the school. Some of the members now are already worried that they won't be able to attend once they're past 6th grade! That's a good problem, because you know they are enjoying themselves now. Once we expand into older grades, I'd like to try to develop some activities that explore the minting process, not only so we can identify the factors that affect how coins look, but to make some of our own coins ourselves... wouldn't that be cool!These are our ideas that have worked or are our dreams, and by sharing them I hope we inspire others. If you have some cool youth club ideas that have worked for your club in the past, please share them with us!

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25 May 2017

First Year Report on Legacy Knights Numismatic Society

Young Numismatists Exchange | Mr_Norris_LKNS

I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I have been with how well this endeavor has gone.Our membership is limited to 3rd- through 6th-grade students at our school or its affiliated home school program, parents of those students, and any faculty/staff that wish to join. To give you an idea of the size of school we have, there were 15 students in the 4th grade this year; the other grades were a little larger. So we're pulling from a maximum pool of maybe 90 students. You would think we might get a half dozen members, but no: we ended the year with 13!We were well-supported by the school and the parents. The school let us use the library for meetings and their video system for presentations. The print shop made flyers for us, and the office distributed them to the classrooms. The print shop also printed poster displays for us, and created handsome certificates of appreciation for whenever we had a guest speaker. The principal and teachers oversaw the students' activities during school hours and set some rules, but didn't ban bringing coins or currency, so that helped. We got a very positive mention during a State Of The School meeting that boosted awareness. I had anywhere from one to four parents sitting in on meetings with us and assisting as needed. The IT shop even helped me out with an email account using the school's domain, which really helps you look professional when communicating on behalf of the club.My favorite local coin shop owner encouraged me to go to a coin show put on by the local coin club. My son and I went, and there we met the president of the club and other members. They offered to send guest speakers to present on various numismatic subjects.Our first meeting in February was an introductory meeting, and we covered the topic of how to identify coins and currency. We followed that up with an off-week discovery trip to the local coin shop.For our second meeting of our existence, two gentlemen from the local club came and presented to our students the most appropriate ways to handle, care for, and display their collections, including the differences between coins that go in blue Whitman folders and coins that get sent off to be slabbed. Their presentation was geared right at our members' age and experience levels.For our third official meeting, another local numismatist from the local club came and presented "Numismatics of the American Civil War."The Numismatic Knights wrapped up their inaugural year by holding their first annual awards ceremony and student-members-only auction on May 16. Each member received a medal that will be unique to the inaugural year, created from a Standing Liberty US quarter dollar mounted under a pin-on ribbon drape in a sterling silver bezel. Each member also now has their own copy of Yeoman's "Red Book" US coin guide, donated by the local coin club, along with a handful of coins to check using their new guide.The auction was a smash hit with our young numismatists! It was a great way for them to learn about auctions, bidding, and the pre-decimal British monetary system. I'll explain all that in another blog post. You have seen auctions, but unless you were there I'll bet most Americans reading this haven't seen a roomful of 8- through 11-year-olds trying to outbid each other in pounds/shillings/pence... Even higher odds that you haven't seen American kids try to do it. But they did!Local and regional numismatic clubs and associations have been very supportive as soon as they heard what we were doing. We've received Red Books donated for members' use, coins, collecting supplies, and back issues of "The Numismatist". Our local shop has welcomed our group and helped us locate and obtain things we need.We operated on a shoestring budget. Dues were $20/year but we reduced it to $10 since we started halfway through the year. $5 of it went immediately to buy a small sack of world coins for each member to keep, study, and trade. The rest went toward buying some second-hand Krause catalogs; most of the rest was from donations.I'm finding it takes dedication to do things the way they need to be done, but it pays off with results. We have a great group, with great support, and they are already talking about what we'll do with it next year!You can read more about our Society on our group's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KnightsNumismatics

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