Collectors, dealers bank on coins to draw interest

May 24, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

Coins common and rare, valued from a few cents to several thousand dollars, were scrutinized under bright lights by coin lovers from several states this weekend.

Many changed hands, either through purchase or "horse trading," club member Phil Buttermore of Chambersburg, Pa., said.

Coin enthusiasts, including 27 dealers from Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Virginia, gathered Saturday and Sunday at the Quality Inn in Chambersburg for the Friendly Coin Club's 44th annual coin show.

Dealers trade coins among themselves and buy and sell coins to the public, Buttermore said.

Buttermore said he developed an interest in coins as a child when examining a box of foreign coins his father owned. The elder Buttermore had worked in his father's general store in the coal towns of northern Pennsylvania, and many foreign coins were spent in the store and collected in a box.


"We took some to a coin show near Erie (Pa.) and found some of them were worth something," Buttermore said.

Later, his interest broadened and he began collecting English coins from the time of the Greco-Roman invasions, he said. He had a complete set, one from each ruler. He and his wife later used the proceeds from the sale of the collection for travel and legal fees when they adopted two children from Vietnam and two from the Dominican Republic, he said.

"A coin collection can be a savings account," he said. "It's a hobby where you can get some of your money back, as opposed to watching baseball or drinking beer."

As a bonus, a numismatist is always learning, Buttermore said. History, culture, art and the printing process all are connected to the collecting of coins and paper money.

Guy Whidden, a coin dealer from Maryland, said his collection features coins from the time of Christ, including the denarius and the widow's mite.

Whidden, who is "past 80," said he has been "fooling with coins for 70 years."

Returning home after serving with the 101st Airborne Division in World War II, Whidden starting teaching in a two-room school in Frederick, Md., and supplemented his teaching income with the sale of coins. He attended coin shows all over the country then, he said.

Whidden and Buttermore did some trading at the show, and Whidden showed off two paper notes he obtained, dated 1837 and 1838.

David and Kimi Siegrist of Waynesboro, Pa., have not been to many coin shows, but often go to coin auctions "to fill out my sets," David Siegrist said. He purchased some Mercury dimes from Whidden at Sunday's event.

The Friendly Coin Club of Chambersburg, of which Buttermore is the secretary, meets at the Eugene Clarke Community Center, 235 S. Third St., at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month, except in July, August and December.

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