High school sophomore Kenny Sammut of Pennsylvania is passionate about coin collecting. He wants to learn everything he can about the hobby, as demonstrated by the 20 or so coin clubs he belongs to. But he’s also very generous with the information and knowledge he has gained. He created the “Numismatics with Kenny” YouTube channel and similarly titled video blog. Combined, his social media accounts total more than 5,000 followers. He has also been chosen to lead the first week’s Young Numismatist auction at the American Numismatic Association’s Summer Seminar in June 2018. COINage recently spoke with Kenny about his involvement in the hobby and listened as he offered some tips about how the coin field can expand and gain the interest of more young numismatists (YNs).
COINage (CA): Tell me a little bit about how you started collecting coins.
Kenny: This was back in 2008 when the Presidential dollars were first released. My father was on a business trip, and he read an article about these coins. He thought that they’d be interesting and ordered some. When the coins finally arrived n the mail, I just clung to them, and I became a collector. Then I started to read some basic books. Over the years, I became a little more advanced.
CA: Besides your dad, who would you say are some of your other mentors?
Kenny: There are so many. There’s Bob LaBelle. My dad and I met him at one of the local coin shops, and then Mr. LaBelle introduced me to one of the local clubs, the Wilmington Coin Club. So that helped grow my interest even more because I was around people who shared the same passions I did. Then there’s also prominent club members Ms. Pam and Mr. Dave from when I was new to the Wilmington Coin Club. They loved the YNs and helping them to become leading numismatists in the hobby. So I learned a lot from them.
CA: Why so many coin clubs? It seems like being part of one or two would keep you busy.
Kenny: I have a lot of different interests in numismatics. There’s not one specific area that I’m really interested in. I love world and American coins for a lot of their designs and history. I get the monthly newsletters from about 20 clubs. I learn so much from them and the articles they have.
CA: What coin clubs are you most active in?
Kenny: Definitely the Wilmington Coin Club in Wilmington, Delaware. That’s the one where I kind of started collecting from. We have several coin clubs in the area, but the Wilmington Coin Club is definitely the most educational one. They always have a presentation; they do a lot of show-and-tells.
CA: Tell me about your first coin club meeting, the earliest one you remember.
Kenny: When I was really young and started to collect, Ms. Pam, maybe 30 minutes before the meeting, she would have a show-and-tell with me and a couple of other numismatists. I learned a lot of interesting little things from those meetings. Like the vampire note from Germany, or the silver three-cent piece, things I never knew existed before that.
CA: What would you suggest to kids who don’t have a coin club nearby?
Kenny: Definitely look on YouTube, not just my channel, but the American Numismatic Association, it has a lot of educational videos. There are also coin forums, such as Coin Community. It’s an online forum for numismatics that is very popular. You can learn a lot of great stuff on that website.
CA: Would you ever suggest someone consider starting his or her own coin club?
Kenny: Yes, you can always try. Sometimes it’s hard to find people because maybe your area doesn’t have as many people who are interested. But it’s always worth a shot. You never know. People are trying to hide it; they don’t want people knowing they collect coins. If they know there are a lot of other people collecting them as well, they’ll be more willing to say, “Hey, I do collect coins.”
CA: Do you think that someone at the ANA would be willing to help them start a club?
Kenny: Oh, yeah, I’m sure. Coin clubs are also a great way of getting other people interested. Young numismatists… they might not even think about collecting coins, but if they talk to someone at the ANA and express an interest in starting a coin club with some other numismatists in the area, then it would attract more collectors and bring other people into the hobby.
CA: Tell us more about why you started your blog/vlog and YouTube channel.
Kenny: Several years back, I tried looking online for educational numismatic videos. Back then, I really couldn’t find many. So I thought maybe it would be interesting if I started one and shared my information and knowledge with other people around the world. So I made my first YouTube video, and it got bigger and bigger. Now it’s pretty popular. There are more YouTube videos and numismatic channels on the internet, but I wanted to get people interested as well. I go through the history of some of the coins. I have some fun facts. I just like to share what I know with other collectors.
CA: Besides the coin clubs and some of the social media that’s out there, what are some ways to get more kids involved?
Kenny: I’ve been in talks with the principal at my school. We have after-school clubs, and I was wondering if maybe there would be a teacher–maybe a social studies teacher, since coins deal a lot with history–maybe someone would be willing to sponsor a club a couple of times a month. The Wilmington Coin Club has a coin show every year. Sometimes I see kids from my school purchasing coins. So I say, “Hi.” I hope they would feel welcome if I decided to start the club up.
CA: What are some of your personal goals?
Kenny: Since I’m only in 10th grade, I don’t really know what I want for my future job. Right now, I’m looking at being an international financier, so I can go around the world and deal with money. Maybe I can stop at a coin show, or coin shop, connect my job with my hobby and make it fun. I know that if I choose something, in two years, I’ll say, “That doesn’t sound interesting.” So I’ll keep the doors open for anything.
CA: As a collector, what are your goals?
Kenny: Definitely becoming even more involved with the ANA in collecting. Maybe I could become a governor or even the president of the ANA one day. That would probably be one of my top goals. My goals aren’t to get the biggest collection in the world or anything like that. They’re more like trying to expand the hobby and get more people interested. I don’t want to say it in such a cliché way, but one idea could open a lot of people’s minds to numismatics and coin collecting.
CA: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Kenny: Maybe to some beginning collectors: If it seems like it’s slow, don’t give up. Don’t think that if it looks like nobody else in your area collects coins that there aren’t collectors there. There are a lot of other associations, magazines and things that you can learn from even if there really isn’t somebody else in your area that collects coins.
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