August 8th, 2009

My Two Cents Worth: Two Score and Five Years

COINage, like the Lincoln cent, is marking a major milestone this year.

This is a special birthday for us: the 45th anniversary of this magazine’s first appearance on the nation’s newsstands. For those keeping “score,” that’s two score and five years—far short of four score and seven, much less five score (the cent’s 100-year lifespan) or 10 score (the length of time since Abraham Lincoln’s birth in 1809).

Still, 45 years is a long, long time in the magazine publishing field, and attaining that age is cause for celebration—and also for expressing sincere appreciation to the loyal readers and advertisers who’ve made the achievement possible.

As several of this month’s articles note, the coin collecting hobby was immersed in major changes—some good, some not so good—in 1964, the year when Gordon Behn and James L. Miller established COINage under the banner of Behn-Miller Magazines.

The coin roll craze of the early 1960s was going down in flames. Proof set production was about to be suspended. The Kennedy half dollar had just debuted to worldwide adulation. And the U.S. Mint was poised to remove all silver from new dimes and quarters and reduce the silver content of new half dollars.

From a numismatic standpoint, it might well have been the most tumultuous year of the 20th century. As such, it was a propitious time to launch a periodical devoted to this superheated hobby. COINage started life as a quarterly magazine, but soon was being published every other month and then—within a year—began to appear every month.

Much has changed since then in the world of numismatics as well as the world at large. Nine U.S. presidents have occupied the White House. Man has walked on the Moon. The Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall have both come tumbling down. And U.S. coinage has undergone massive makeovers that few imagined possible in 1964—notably the recently concluded 50 State Quarters program.

COINage has chronicled the many important events affecting the nation’s coin collectors, furnished in-depth coverage and expert, detailed analysis of hobby-related news and put all of this into clear historical context.

Our goal through the years has been to provide perspective, focusing not only on what was happening now at any given time but also on how the current events were shaped by the history of coins and related collectibles—history dating back more than 2,500 years. At the same time, we’ve projected ways in which the past and present offer useful clues as to what might lie ahead for the hobby and the market it has spawned—a market that has grown impressively in both size and sophistication since 1964.

The guiding genius who devised this successful approach and oversaw its implementation for nearly 40 years was Jim Miller—a man who, in the finest sense, served as the gold standard for magazine publishing executives. Jim directed editorial operations while his partner, Gordon Behn, handled other aspects of the business. Then, about three decades ago, when Gordon decided to retire, Jim acquired sole ownership and renamed the company Miller Magazines.

Jim and Jill Miller both guided the business until Jim’s death in 2003. Since then, Jill has given COINage the same wise, insightful direction.Tom Trimbach now runs daily operations as general manager, heading a staff that besides myself includes our managing editor, Marcy Gibbel; associate editor, Lynn Varon; and advertising director, Mike Gumpel.

As befits a publication devoted to collectibles, the longevity of COINage has been a collective achievement resulting from the input of dozens of exceptional contributors—editors, writers, photographers, artists and other talented craftsmen whose skill and inventiveness have kept the magazine’s contents timely, engrossing and fresh.

This is my 23rd year as COINage senior editor—so I have held that post for just over half the magazine’s life. Doing so would have been far more difficult without the superb assistance of the two remarkable women who’ve served as managing editor during two lengthy segments of that time. Kari Stone was a pillar of strength throughout the 1990s and Marcy Gibbel has been my good right arm since 2000. Both have performed their often demanding duties with distinction and dedication.

All of us are proud of the milestone we celebrate this year. But we have no intention of resting on our laurels.

There are many more milestones ahead. ?

2009 . August . Issues . My Two Cents