Connecting with collectors

Elliot Cahn’s coin collection probably will never be featured on “Antiques Roadshow.” But that’s just fine with him. He’s not amassing coins to make big money. He just likes the way the cents, euros and pesos look and feel in his hand.

“My favorite one is from Australia,” said the 9-year-old, who lives with his parents, Bruce and Ramona Cahn, in Laurelhurst. “It has, like, all this scribble-scrabble, swirly stuff on it. And going upside down is something that looks like ghost fingers. It’s really cool.”

Thanks to his well-traveled grandfather and aunt, Elliot now owns coins from 41 nations. He also picked up a few specimens during recent family trips to Canada and Costa Rica. Elliot’s goal is to collect coins from as many countries as possible.

Elliot is what you might call an old-school collector. He’s not part of the legions of kids (and adults) today who collect objects they hope will someday be amazingly valuable. He’s not preserving mint-in-box action figures from the latest blockbuster movie. He isn’t trying to find rare baseball cards to encase in Mylar.

Elliot collects coins because it’s fun – and because he’s learning about his world in the process.

His mom couldn’t be happier. “Elliot’s always had an interest in social studies. Although we didn’t really think about it when he started collecting, the coins really play into that interest,” Ramona Cahn said.

Every time Elliot gets a new coin, he locates its country of origin on a map. He and his parents also have talked about currency issues, such as why some European countries now use euros and some do not. “It’s opened a lot of avenues for discussion,” his mom said. “It’s really educational, and for him, it’s a lot of fun.”

Lydia Mitchell, a Beaverton 6-year-old, collects paper items that have emotional significance to her – sort of a pre-scrapbooking urge. In her treasure drawer right now: a wrapper from a bandage that covered a good friend’s boo-boo; a label from one of her dad’s water bottles: a program from vacation Bible school; and a colored-on place mat from the Raccoon Lodge, a favorite family eating place.

Mom Jennifer Mitchell occasionally helps Lydia sort her collection so it doesn’t become a clutter-trap. However, she encourages her daughter to keep as much ephemera as she can. “I think it will help her preserve memories of people and events in a way that is unique to her way of remembering and categorizing them,” her mom wrote in an e-mail.

Despite their best intentions, many parents do get a little nervous when their children start collecting, said Holly Baker, author of “Cool Collectibles for Kids: A Kid’s and Parent’s Guide to the Hobby of Collecting” (Silverleaf Press, $12.95, 64 pages), to be released in September. Depending on what they collect, kids’ special items may take up precious household space, could seem messy or might even get expensive. However, Baker says all of those concerns can be managed with a bit of help from Mom and Dad.

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Category - Coin collecting
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