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Where have all the pint-sized collectors gone?

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The Internet is also changing the world of collecting. As founder of CoinTalk.com, an online community of coin collectors, Peter Davis provides a way for older collectors to mentor the younger generation.

"One of the things younger collectors have to face today that older folks didn't is the massive influx of Chinese counterfeit coins into the hobby," he says. Online "marketplaces such as eBay have made it very profitable for Chinese counterfeiters to sell directly to the collecting public in the US, or to middlemen who pass counterfeits off as the real thing."

The Internet, particularly Wikipedia, "ruined" Brandon Mendelson's interest in trading cards. "When I was younger, I liked the trivia found on the back of each Marvel Comics card," says the Syracuse, N.Y., resident. "With the Internet, all the trivia can be found online, so it became a bit pointless to me to keep collecting them."

David Steinberger of New York, who collected comics when he was a boy, finds that comic book collectors today are generally viewed as an aging population. "Younger comic book readers generally don't view it as a collecting passion, but as a reading passion," he says. "Younger readers are more likely to buy collected editions or even download illegal copies online."

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