I have been a collector since I was age 14. At 60 now, I remember the many finds I made back in the 1960s and somewhat later. I used to receive a $6 weekly allowance from my uncle (as I lost my Dad when I was eight years old).
Every Saturday, I would ride my bicycle to local banks to obtain penny rolls, search the rolls, add to my collection and return the rolls for another round of fresh coins. Since I recycled the same coins week after week, I used my regular weekly allowance for other things.
I completed the Lincoln cent series in about four years, except for the elusive 1909-S vdb cent, which I wound up purchasing separately.
Between attending college, entering the workforce and starting a family, there was neither much time nor money to devote to the hobby, so I dropped out of collecting for many years.
In 2000, I found myself with an empty nest and a spouse who wanted to attend a local coin show with me, so we attended a show together. As fate would have it, my wife Patti showed quite an interest at the show.
The large amount of gold, silver and various types of coins on hand amazed her. I was hooked once again and re-entered the hobby with tremendous new enthusiasm.
We started to search through rolls of coins together, mostly on weekends. We enjoy doing this and it is a real chance to spend quality time together.
This past Memorial Day weekend, we decided to purchase some 5-cent rolls from our local bank. Even though there is usually nothing to be had in nickel rolls, we had not searched through that denomination in years.
The bank was happy to accommodate our request as we have been customers for years and had developed a close relationship. They said they had two boxes of nickels on hand and we could have them both as they lay them down in front of us at the teller window.
Since we did not have enough cash on hand to purchase both boxes, I asked my wife to select one of the two boxes. One box was somewhat broken and so she decided to take that one.
That Saturday, we sat down to search through the nickels along with some other rolls of pennies we had put aside months earlier. After searching the pennies, it was getting late (around 11:30 p.m.) but we decided to search through the nickel rolls as it is fairly easy to put aside common dates and there is such a low chance of finding anything worthwhile.
We were about half way through when Patti opened a roll and out spilled mostly Indian Head (Buffalo) 5-cent coins — some with legible dates and several with worn out illegible dates.
We laughed and joked how someone probably cleaned out their piggy bank and turned in the coins for face value.
As she examined the coins, I was busy looking through another roll of Jefferson nickels. She paused and said she had a 1937 nickel and showed it to me. I said it was a common date and kept looking through my rolls.
As she looked at that coin closer she then commented it was minted in Denver. I once again mentioned it was a common date.
Then she asked “Isn’t that year the Buffalo has three legs”? I said yes and she said “look at this.” Now, you can imagine my reaction when I suddenly see in my hands a coin I have searched all of my life! After we calmed down, I wondered if it was counterfeit.
We took it to the next local coin show. Some dealers felt it was fake, but some did not, so we decided the only way to be certain was to submit it for grading. Four long weeks later the package arrived. My wife was literally afraid to look at it for fear our great find was a fake.
After two hours, we could not wait any longer and opened the package to find it had been assigned a grade of Very Fine 35 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.
We are still celebrating this find and are now discussing what coin rolls we should ask for next!
Rudy cecchini and his wife Patti are coin collectors in New Jersey.