Allen Rowe: This holiday season, shop for gifts that will last

With the holidays approaching, one more aspect of coins comes back to light: giving them as gifts. Almost every holiday season, we are bombarded by ads featuring the newest electronics, gadgets or fads, but how many of those gifts last more than a year or so? Think about your first cellphone. Mine was a Motorola flip phone. Today that phone is archaic by comparison and the newer phones seem to last shorter periods before a better version is here. A $500 gift becomes worth only a few bucks in just a couple of years. Same goes for computers, tablets, game consoles, televisions and Beta Max-VHS-DVD-BluRay players.

I remember being a kid and looking forward to getting an Atari. The console lasted about three years, a long time by today’s standards, and then it went into a box only to be tossed a few years later. That same year I also got a couple of ounces of silver. I kept the silver around until I was in college. At the time I had received it, each ounce was worth about $12, and at the time I sold it, the price was down to about $5. But, what seems like a for sure loss was actually a tremendous up-sided gift. When I sold it, I did not just cash it in and spend the money on a new gadget, I reinvested the money into rare coins. The gift was not only one with a monetary value, but also an intrinsic value. You see, it had sparked an interest in acquiring things with a lasting value. Sure, the value of what I was selling was down, but by switching the value into newer items I was able to increase the value of what I was holding. Those few dollars spent on silver ended up being incalculably more than the hundreds spent on the Atari.

One other aspect of buying rare coins is to build a hobby. As a parent or grandparent, would you rather have a child spend an extra hour playing a video game or learning about coins? Learning about coins encompasses value, economics, statistics and history. As a child I remember learning about different coins and their values. That knowledge built hope and aspiration into my collecting. In fact, many of the most advanced collectors I know never thought that they would, or could, achieve the collecting goals they have. But building a hobby instills the lasting value of building upon your dreams and that they can be achieved.

Of course, comparing electronics and coins is like comparing apples and fingernail polish because we use electronics every day, but think of the amount of money spent every year. Most electronic gifts end up being little or no value in short order. Giving gold, silver or rare coins will have a lasting value and could be the base of a great hobby. So if you are looking for a good gift idea this year, think of all the money you are going to spend and how just a fraction of that in a new direction could have a lasting impact.

Allen Rowe owns Northern Nevada Coin in Carson City.

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