Coin show makes change look like a million

September 05, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

HAGERSTOWN - Roger Turner Jr. is a better businessman than he is a coin collector.

Turner, 19, of Fulks Run, Va., west of Harrisonburg, walked out of the 86th semiannual Interstate Coin Show Saturday at the Venice Inn $30 richer.

He bought a roll of 20 Benjamin Franklin half dollars for $50 from one of the 45 dealers in the show and sold it to another dealer for $80.

"I got $80 bucks for them," he told his father, Roger Turner Sr., 59, who is the more astute coin collector of the father-son duo, according to the younger Turner.


Roger Turner Sr. said he has been collecting since 1960, mostly common silver dollars. His most prized coin is a 1909 S VDB Lincoln wheat penny.

In explaining the penny's nomenclature, Roger Turner Sr. said the S stands for San Francisco, where the coin was minted. The VDB stands for Victor D. Brenner, who designed the penny for the U.S. Mint.

"I have it insured for $1,200," Roger Turner Sr. said. The cheapest S VDB penny he saw at the Hagerstown show was priced at $600, he said.

Bill Schultz, 78, of Bethesda, Md., has been collecting coins most of his life. His specialty is "Barber coins," named for Charles Barber, who designed dimes, nickels and quarters for the U.S. Mint from 1892 to 1916.

Schultz came to the show armed with a book listing all of the Barber coins and a yellow legal pad in his own handwriting listing the coins he doesn't have.

He doesn't know how many he does have or the value of his collection. He said a lot of his coins came from circulation that he used to pick up through the early 1950s when they still were common. He said he buys at the low end of the market.

"The older coins are too expensive," he said.

Most coins, even those minted today, have the designer's initial stamped on them, said Richard Nanson, owner of Nanson Numismatics in Jarrettsville, Md.

One Barber coin, an 1894 S dime, one of only 24 minted, last sold at auction for $451,000, said Nanson, who attends nearly 50 shows a year.

"There are only 12 left that are known," he said. "They're in private collections and the Smithsonian."

Paul Brandenburg, owner of Tri-State Coins & Firearms in Millville, Del., ran the booth across the aisle from Nanson's. His 15-year-old granddaughter, Kristal Black, was helping.

Brandenburg, 61, said he started collecting wheat pennies as a teenager. For as long as she can remember, Black said, her grandfather had a big glass jar filled with pennies. Coin collecting is "a family thing," she said. "My mom does it, too."

Brandenburg said the most expensive coin he knows about is a 1913 V nickel.

"There were only 13 made," he said. "There are only five left known to exist. Three are in the Smithsonian, one is in a private collection and the fifth one can't be found."

Bernie Spahn, in the next booth, confirmed Brandenburg's story.

Robert Brechbiel, 83, chairman of the show, said the first show was held in 1961. Brechbiel collects Washington County postcards, as well as coins.

The lure for coin collectors, he said, "is the enjoyment of the search, trying to find all the mint marks and all the years."

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