What Ever Happened to Kids Collecting Stamps and Coins?


Inverted Jenny Stamp, auctioned for $977,500 in 2007

Children love to collect toys. Whether it is Fingerlings, Shopkins, Tsum Tsums, LOL Surprise, or any of a number of other collectibles, children have a desire to own as many  variations  as are available (particularly the scarce ones). They want to organize them; to display them and, yes, to sometimes even play with them.

What I find interesting is that children choose to collect ephemera (pieces of plastic, foam or cloth) rather than what their grandparents sought: Stamps, coins and baseball Cards. In fact, it doesn't seem like parents recommend these types of hobbies any more.

1909-11-T206-White-Border-Honus-Wagner-baseball-card-164x300What I think stamps, coins and baseball cards have in common is that they are redolent of history. Each one has a story, a real story about a real person in another place and time. Not only that but coins, stamps and baseball cards can represent a true investment. Buy a set of newly minted coins, hold on to them and some day (depending on scarcity) they may provide a nice return on investment. Find a rare penny in your spare change and maybe even have a bigger return.

Beyond the wisdom of investing in something that has durable value, there is the opportunity to create a collection that invokes the passage of time. For example. collect baseball cards that cover the length of a player's career and in so doing create a panoramic biography. 

I see an opportunity for those who work in the stamp, baseball card and coin markets. Here are some ideas:

  • Rethink the old formats for collecting and tie them in with augmented reality, virtual reality and apps so that young collectors can play and collect the way 21st century children think, act and play.
  • Create children's books that use these collectibles as a stepping stone for great stories.
  • Bring a broader color pallet to the tools of collecting. 
  • Find a home in the toy department so that they can compete in the same space as the toy collectibles.
  • Don't be afraid to add a license. Maybe Barbie, who can do anything, could be a coin or stamp collector. 
  • Finally, appeal to those who already collect and encourage them to share their passions with their children and grandchildren. They may share the enthusiam or they may not but the giver will be memorable for what they valued.

Do you collect coins, baseball cards, stamps or something else? Do you have a memory of someone who did? Let us know.

One thought

  1. “What I find interesting is that children choose to collect ephemera (pieces of plastic, foam or cloth) rather than what their grandparents sought: Stamps, coins and baseball Cards”
    Actually, the definition of “ephemera” is generally said to be something that’s meant to be thrown away, and only last a short time. Today, it’s generally considered to be ‘paper’…. postcards, magazines, brochures, greeting cards, luggage labels, letters, maps, posters, tickets, and yes…. stamps and baseball cards. I am a huge collector of ephemera, and have boxes of interesting things that reflect the times in which they were created. They are like a window into the past!
    I agree with all of your suggestions, and this gives me some ideas for creating some new toy ideas for the future!

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