I suspect many aspiring young philatelists and numismatists got their start as I did on the pages of Boys’ Life Magazine. This clip comes from the November 1974 issue. I earned my first merit badge, Coin Collecting, about this time, and I’m sure I carefully examined this page when it came out. I was a good customer of many of those advertisers, including the Littleton Coin Company, the Littleton Stamp Company, and the Mystic Stamp Company. It turns out that those companies are very much still in business, but Littleton acquired Mystic along the way. Today, coins are sold under the Littleton name, and stamps are sold under the Mystic name. The Littleton Coin ad shown here notes that it is for serious coin collectors only, and I certainly fit that description.
I still have many of those treasures tucked away, such as the Hong Kong One Cent Note, and the Japanese Invasion Currency. (Although it wasn’t until many years later that I learned that the money was never intended for Hawaii, as I think I was led to believe. It turns out the notes denominated in dollars and cents were actually used in Malaya.)
As was customary, most of these companies sold “on approval.” An offer was advertised at a very reasonable price, and the buyer also received “approvals,” meaning additional coins or stamps that had to be either paid for or sent back. This was undoubtedly the source of great confusion by many young scouts, so each issue of Boys’ Life carried the explanation shown here. In case the explanation wasn’t understood, it concluded with the admonition: “ASK YOUR PARENTS to explain this, if you do not understand it.”
Interestingly, this issue’s cover story is a feature about a sports hero named O.J. Simpson. It details the inspiring story of how he managed (up to that point) to avoid a life in crime, and concludes, “when he still asks, ‘tell me what You want me to do,’ you feel that he already knows the answer and now is searching only for the means.”