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Show me the money

Interstate Coin Club show draws about 450

Interstate Coin Club show draws about 450

September 05, 2009

HAGERSTOWN -- Now and again, a child will get a proof set of coins from grandma and grandpa as a reward for a good report card or a performance in a school play.

Usually, the set is proudly displayed on top of a dresser for a while. Eventually, it is tossed aside, forgotten in the depths of a junk drawer.

But sometimes, that is not the case. Some children, instead, become interested in coin collecting. They seek out other coins of interest, and start throwing around terms such as spot price, bullion and numismatics in casual conversation.

Take for instance, Robert Lehmann, president of The Reeded Edge Inc. Lehmann's company specializes in rare coins and collectibles, with a storefront in Cumberland, Md., and a robust Internet dealership.

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Lehmann started collecting coins as a hobby as a child growing up in Silver Spring, Md. In 1979, he was a self-described "starving college student" working three jobs. So he went to a coin show to see if he could make some money.

"I made more in one coin show a month than I did working all three of my other part-time jobs," Lehmann said Saturday at the Interstate Coin Club's Interstate Coin Show at the Best Western Grand Venice Hotel in Hagerstown.

Nearly 30 years later, coins are his livelihood.

Lehmann said the twice-annual show is one of the smaller ones he attends. He goes into the show hoping to buy $30,000 to $40,000 worth of material and to sell $40,000 to $50,000 of it.

"This is a small show. It is a microcosm or a snapshot of what's going on in the coin business," Lehmann said. "There are a limited number of shows geographically specific to this area, and this show serves the area real well."

Lehmann said he doesn't focus on dealing bullion -- precious metals such as silver or gold -- at shows.

"We tend to get gold and silver in the office," he said. "We come to shows to buy and sell things we don't buy or sell in the office."

Lehmann said he bought numismatic material -- coins with collectible value -- at the show, including half cents from the early 1800s. He spent about $10,000 buying various coins valued from $300 up to $1,400.

"We fell well short of our expectations, but I blame it more on the holiday weekend than the market," Lehmann said. "This is the last hurrah for a lot of people, doing their summer thing."

He said he always does more business at the Interstate Coin Club's February shows.

Jim Pappas, 73, of Ashton, Md., who owns J.P. Coins, was another of the 45 dealers at the show. While Pappas, like Lehmann, traded numismatic material at the show, he also noted the recent rise in the value of gold and capitalized on it at the show.

"I've moved a lot of gold," Pappas said. "It closed at $996 per ounce (Friday), and I predict it's going a lot higher."

Pappas said he sold 12 to 14 ounces of gold at $1,050 and $1,060 per ounce.

A deputy from the Washington County Sheriff's Department worked overtime at the doors of the ballroom where the deals were brokered, and planned to guard the show's inventory throughout the night.

Interstate Coin Club President Myrtle Canfield, 85, said about 450 customers attended.

Robert Brechbill of Hagerstown, a club member and chairman of the show, said the event attracts an array of customers.

"Some people collect just for the beauty of the coins, some for the value," Brechbill said. "Some are only interested in certain topics, like Confederate money or ancient coins from biblical days. And some only want paper money."

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