Featured Coin Collecting Merit Badge

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by mcz0804a, May 9, 2018.

  1. mcz0804a

    mcz0804a Member

    As I have mentioned in a few posts I am active in Scouting. I am the Cubmaster for my Son’s Pack and a Committee Member for the associated Troop. I also Staff shooting sports for the OA and Council. But all of that is to say, with my interest in coin collecting I am going to register to be a Merit Badge Counselor for the Coin Collecting Merit Badge. I wholeheartedly believe that in order to truly earn something, you must first apply it and then teach it.

    As such I’d like yall’s help in developing my content. Sure, I could use the standard “Go do your own research” or death by PowerPoint approaches, but I don’t feel they are good methods. All they do is discourage a Scout. I want to educate, amuse, and inspire a Scout who is pursuing this Merit Badge. I want them to finish with a sense of wonderment, a thirst to learn more, and a passion to continue and grow in coin collecting. I know I’m asking a lot of myself and my program. But, “If you shoot for the moon…”

    Here are the requirements to earn the Merit Badge and my thoughts.

    1. Understand how coins are made, and where the active U.S. Mint facilities are located.

    There are some interesting videos made by the US Mint about the coin making process. But that doesn’t engage the youth. I’d love to get my hands on some dies and/or planchettes in various steps of manufacturing, but that’s probably unrealistic.

    2. Explain these collecting terms:

    a. Obverse

    b. Reverse

    c. Reeding

    d. Clad

    e. Type set

    f. Date set

    I’m thinking the GIANT coins from Cracker Barrel would make an awesome visual aide here.

    3. Explain the grading terms Uncirculated, Extremely Fine, Very Fine, Fine, Very Good, Good, and Poor. Show five different grade examples of the same coin type. Explain the term proof and why it is not a grade. Tell what encapsulated coins are.

    The PCGS Photograde app would be cool here. It would introduce them to collecting tools, while also using information directly from the industry standard.

    4. Know three different ways to store a collection, and describe the benefits, drawbacks, and expenses of each method. Pick one to use when completing requirements.

    Loose (in a bag/box), 2x2’s (In Box and binder), AirTite/Snaplocks… I want to keep the options on the fairly reasonable side as ages range from 11-17. Incomes could potentially be non-existent. And I want to leave a little room for them to learn more.

    5. Do ONE of the following:

    a. Demonstrate to your counselor that you know how to use two U.S. or world coin reference catalogs.

    b. Read a numismatic magazine or newspaper and tell your counselor about what you learned.

    Simple, this is a DIY requirement. I will source a few materials to have on hand incase a Scout cannot get them themselves.

    6. Describe the 1999–2008 50 State Quarters® program or the America the Beautiful Quarters® program. Collect and show your counselor five different quarters from circulation you have acquired from one of these programs.

    7. Collect from circulation a set of currently circulating U.S. coins. Include one coin of each denomination (cent, nickel, dime, quarter, half-dollar, dollar). For each coin, locate the mint marks, if any, and the designer’s initials, if any.

    This is a good way to introduce coin roll hunting.

    8. Do the following:

    a. Identify the people depicted on the following denominations of current U.S. paper money: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100.

    b. Explain “legal tender.”

    c. Describe the role the Federal Reserve System plays in the distribution of currency.

    9. Do ONE of the following:

    a. Collect and identify 50 foreign coins from at least 10 different countries.

    b. Collect and identify 20 bank notes from at least five different countries.

    c. Collect and identify 15 different tokens or medals.

    d. For each year since the year of your birth, collect a date set of a single type of coin.

    This is a good one to combine with Req. 10b.

    10. Do ONE of the following:

    a. Tour a U.S. Mint facility, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, or a Federal Reserve bank, and describe what you learned to your counselor.

    b. With your parent’s permission, attend a coin show or coin club meeting, or view the Web site of the U.S. Mint or a coin dealer, and report what you learned.

    c. Give a talk about coin collecting to your troop or class at school.

    d. Do drawings of five Colonial-era U.S. coins.

    We are lucky to be in DFW, as we have the Ft Worth Bureau of Engraving and Printing Western Currency facility and many coin shows.

    Feedback is a gift, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions.

    mynamespat and Clawcoins like this.
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  3. CoinBlazer

    CoinBlazer Registry Set Enthusiast

    Fifty forgien coins maybe excessive, 20 is more reasonable
  4. CoinBlazer

    CoinBlazer Registry Set Enthusiast

    You can buy used dies and blank planchets online. Totally realistic
  5. mcz0804a

    mcz0804a Member

    Unfortunatley the requirements (in bold) are set forth by BSA National. I don't have any control over that. BUT, I can steer them towards another option under that requirement.

    I think the requirements were written with the thought that only Scouts who already collect will take it, and IDK when they were last updated by national. This is one of the oldest Merit Badges that is still available.
  6. mcz0804a

    mcz0804a Member

    I'm seeing that. I was hoping to find dies that still have engraving on them (think 1996 Olympic dies). But all others are torched or ground flat (understandably). I'm playing with the idea of having a my Grandfather (Metal Fabricator) make a custom die so the Scouts can physically make a coin.
  7. Oldhoopster

    Oldhoopster It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    You seem to have most of it covered. FWIW, Here are a few comments.

    Blank Planchets (With the upset rims) are readily available and shouldn’t be more than $10 and possible less than $5. Olympic dies are occasionally available as well as few than have had the design completely ground off but they are going to be expensive.

    You may be able to set up an outing where interested scouts can meet you at a show or club. Some shows do offer educational programs for scouts. Contact the show organizer or sponsoring club beforehand, and I bet you’ll get a lot of support. At various times, I have been an officer in local clubs and while we never had the request, I know we would have bent over backwards to accommodate a group of scouts. Once again, contact the club beforehand

    Just my 2 cents (hopefully a BU 1864 small motto and not a corroded AG 1865 :))
    mcz0804a likes this.
  8. mcz0804a

    mcz0804a Member

    @Oldhoopster I was hoping to put a progressional set together. Planchette (not upset) -> Planchette (upset) -> Final Coin. I think that covers the major steps. I'm not worried about the annealing and cleaning steps, thats to micro for the scope of this.

    I saw the 1996 dies... $500+... OUCH!

    I definitely would like to host merit badge sessions at coin shows, and maybe even the Ft Worth Bureau of Engraving and Printing Western Currency facility. I think I'm going to refine my process first. BUT, I will contact organizers and see about networking with Scouters that are already involved.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    BTW, I love your last line.
  9. Sallent

    Sallent Supporter! Supporter

    This merit badge is very US coins centric. A kid with 30 or 40 ancient coins and a passion for ancients would be deemed not good enough to receive the badge. LOL
  10. TheFinn

    TheFinn Well-Known Member

    Here is a great video of how medals (coins) are made. I used to work here and can tell you that it is the most accurate and best filmed I have found.

  11. mcz0804a

    mcz0804a Member

    US centric? Yes. But no one is being deemed "not good enough"

    This would be an excellent video to use hands on aides to augment.
  12. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    If you keep an eye out token dies show up from time to time and they are MUCH cheaper, and they usually have the entire design on them. You might even be able to acquire a mis matched pair that are similar in size and be able to strike some "coins" with the dies and a sledge hammer.

    Just checked ebay and it looks like thee are about 22 token dies up for sale at the moment. Some show cracks or breaks (cuds), even if you don;t have a pair you can press on into something soft like wax to how how the die creates a "coin" that shows die cracks or cuds.
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
    Oldhoopster likes this.
  13. justafarmer

    justafarmer Senior Member

    Requirement #6 suggests a fairly recent update. Being one of the older badges - It would be interesting to look at the changes in requirements over time. Maybe even taking the badge requirements from the 1950's and completing the badge now constrained by the date of 1955. Of course finding coins in circulation under that constraint might prove nearly impossible - so you would have to substitute finding in circulation with finding @ coin shops, shows and etc.
  14. mcz0804a

    mcz0804a Member

    @Conder101 I hadn't considered token dies. That's a great idea! Thanks.

    @justafarmer I have a feeling National prob simply added #6 without consideration for the other requirements, based on how they handle other documents. I have LOTS of scout collecting friends, I may have to do a requirements comparison.I find state quarters all the time in change. But I've never analyzed which states.
  15. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    My thoughts on your thoughts, by requirement:

    General: Start with the Merit Badge Pamphlet, which will have a lot of information in it.

    1. There's a really good movie shot in by the RCM in 1920 that will supplement the minting process that is outlined in the pamphlet. As it is a silent film, someone later added some nice piano playing as a soundtrack. There are more modern ones (like this one showing refining gold and making Maple Leaves), of course, but this shows how little has changed in 100 years.

    2. They're supposed to explain to you. The information will be in the pamphlet. The giant coins might be amusing, but the real thing and a loupe would be better.

    3 - 4. Have your sets handy to show the scout. PCGS Photograde (browser or mobile app) is a good resource for grading.

    5a. Have a Red Book and a Krause book and a couple test coins the scout hasn't seen so that he can demonstrate this competence.

    5b. I agree that you should have a magazine or paper on hand in case the scout doesn't know where to get one.

    6 - 7. In addition to roll hunting, make sure you go into selecting coins for quality. Collecting a half and a dollar from actual circulation will be difficult, if not impossible, so they'll have to go to a bank for these.

    9 - 10. These are supposed to be the tougher ones that take a little time and work to finish. For requirement 9, have a few sets that are larger than the requirements to show how any of these collections can grow, and that finishing a requirement is merely the start of building a collection. If you have a birth year set, add in some coins from 100 years earlier or from other countries. My birth year set is quite boring -- no mint marks that year. If I go back 100 years, it gets interesting (and expensive) fast.

    The 10b "view a web site of a dealer" bit I would really discourage, since they're generally not meant to teach you anything. That seems like an out-of-place requirement, although if the scout comes to you with it fulfilled, you'll probably have to count it, unless there was little learned from doing so. They should have also encouraged visiting a local shop if one was available and you know they're not scoundrels. You might want to contact Heritage in Dallas to see if they let scouts visit them to see what they do, although I don't see how that fits with any one of the requirements unless you also visit their website.

    Be ready to show your coins and how they relate to the work the scout has done to illustrate a path forward for him if he is genuinely interested in the hobby, and not just adding a badge to his sash.
    mynamespat likes this.
  16. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    The requirements do change from time to time. Those aren't the same requirements I had, nor are they the same ones that were in place when I was a counselor for the badge. One of the requirements I had to complete was to collect a 20th century type set, not including gold coins.
  17. benveniste

    benveniste Type Type

    The requirements have gotten considerably more formalized in the last 47 years! No shock there. IIRC, a quick presentation, a 20th century type set (no gold) and a set from your birth year was all that was required.

    As for 50 foreign coins from 10 different countries, doing it the "hard" way, by finding travelers and "pen pals," is a bit challenging. But if one's parents have a few dollars to throw at the problem, it's quite easy. One can buy "junk" foreign coins for about $7-$8 a pound. I bought 5 lbs once for a friend as a gift, and we spent a pleasant (but long) evening sorting and identifying them. I finally figure out the last one was from Thailand around 1:30am.
    mcz0804a likes this.
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