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Where have all the pint-sized collectors gone?

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People collect for three reasons – nostalgia, decorative purposes, and investment, says Gary Sohmers of Framingham, Mass., who appraises collectibles for the Antiques Roadshow on PBS. He finds that collecting teaches children about maintaining objects and sharing their collections with friends and family. It also offers lessons in fair trading.

Mr. Sohmers's 12-year-old son, Thomas, is an avid collector of NASA memorabilia, computers, video games, and penguins, both figurines and stuffed animals.

For a time, baseball cards became more popular than coin collecting for children, says Mark Albarian, president of Goldline International, a rare coin and precious metals trading firm. "Now that's changing because of the United States Mint. The state quarter program, new gold and silver coins, and the new Lincoln pennies for 2009 have brought coin collecting to center stage."

Many children attend coin shows, and the American Numismatic Association hosts merit badge clinics for Boy Scouts at its two annual conventions.

In sports collectibles, Major League Baseball and the sports card companies have conducted advertising and marketing campaigns in recent years to continue to attract young people to the hobby.

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