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Coin hunters seek investments, collection completion

September 04, 2010|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI
  • The biannual Interstate Coin Show was held Saturday at the Best Western Grand Venice Hotel.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- Rich Moyer clearly remembers the beginning of his interest in coins.

When he was a boy, his mother worked at a grocery store in Allentown, Pa. Each night when she returned home, the two of them would sort through her change looking for rare dimes. They would learn about them by reading coin books.

"One night, we found a rare dime worth a couple hundred dollars," Moyer said. "I thought to myself, 'I like this. This is easy.'"

Today, Moyer, 56, owns Antietam Coin Exchange in Hagerstown. He was among about 50 dealers gathered Saturday for the biannual Interstate Coin Show at the Best Western Grand Venice Hotel.

Moyer said many of the 600 to 800 people expected to attend the show Saturday and Sunday would be seeking silver, gold and precious metals.

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"The economy is not looking so good. People want to invest in something other than the stock market and compensate for what could be down the road," Moyer said. "They want something they can hold in their hand."

Another consequence of the flagging economy in coin-collecting circles is increased concern for security. Show chairman Robert Brechbiel said dealers attended the event from across Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and beyond.

Because they travel with valuable collections, in most cases worth thousands of dollars, they must be vigilant. Brechbiel said as unemployment rates and the value of gold and silver have risen, so has the frequency of robberies.

"The dealers have got to be real careful," Brechbiel said. "The less they tell about themselves, the better."

Lottie M. Canfield, president of the Interstate Coin Club, said an armed police officer with the Washington County Sheriff's Department would patrol the show room "'round the clock."

Katherine Mittag, 20, of Smithsburg, said she used to collect foreign money from her mother's travels. Now, her fiance has piqued her interest in American coins. She stopped at the show to pick up a 2009 U.S. Mint set and a collector's book for national park quarters.

Richard Kleinsack of Smithsburg attended the event with his 10-year-old son, Christopher. Kleinsack said he has collected coins for about 30 years and that Christopher "picked up where I left off."

Christopher was hoping to find a certain three-legged buffalo nickel. The coin is known as an error coin because it was struck incorrectly at the mint. He said he has all of the other buffalo coins -- approximately 60 or 70 of them -- and he needs the 1937-D to complete the set. One dealer was selling the coin for $700.

Richard Kleinsack said he prefers shopping for coins at the show rather than on the Internet.

"It's nice to come to shows like this because you can see what you are getting and negotiate with the dealers on the price," he said. "It's not as easy on eBay."

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