Remembering the coin market in Cincinnati from 1963 to 1973

Guest Commentary from the Aug. 11, 2014, issue of Coin World
By , is a longtime collector and dealer. A version of this commentary originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of the Cincinnati Numismatic Association’s “The Cincinnati Numismatist.”
Published : 07/25/14
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I was 14 years old in 1963 and an avid coin collector. A few years earlier my father got me started collecting coins when he bought me the Whitman cent folders of 1909 to 1940 and 1941 and up. He would take me to the bank on a Friday night and get 20 rolls of “pennies.” I would fill my folders and upgrade as I went.

By 1963 I had most of the cents. I expanded my collecting to 5-cent coins through silver dollars. We lived in Newport, Ky., and I would walk across the bridge to Covington every Saturday morning to Sears Stamp and Coin Shop. I usually had about $10 to spend. I would also walk across the bridge to Cincinnati where both Pogue’s and Shillito’s had coin and stamp shops. Pogue’s was on the west end of Fountain Square and Shillito’s was on Eighth Street. A few years later I went to Sandler Brothers on Fountain Square.

By 1966 I was driving, and I attended three coin clubs in the area. The Cincinnati Numismatic Association met downtown at the main library, second floor, Friday nights. Sol Kaplan was the president. Attendance was usually 20 to 25 members.

The club always had a program. I remember seeing a 144-piece commemorative half dollar set and Mr. Kaplan’s Russian platinum 3-ruble coin set. I showed Sol Kaplan an 1843 Seated Liberty dollar that I had just traded for and I asked him to grade it. He said, “VF, +, cleaned.” I was crushed. I thought it was About Uncirculated, not Very Fine. 

I always bought a lot of coins out of the club auction. I remember buying a British sovereign for $12 and selling it on the weekend for $19. 

In Kentucky there were two clubs. In Southgate, the club met at the VFW hall. It was dark and all the members wanted to do was drink. The club had no programs and a small auction. Usually 10 to 15 members would show up. In Taylor Mills, another club met at a hotel in a private room. It was better than Southgate. 

I found the coin shop at Dixie Terminal in the late 1960s and purchased rolls from them. I know Jim Carr from that shop to this day. There was a coin shop out on Dixie Highway in Covington where I traded all of my bulk rolls of Indians, “War nickels,” and silver coins for key-date coins I needed in my sets. I got the 1909-S Lincoln, V.D.B. cent, 1916-D Winged Liberty Head dime, and the 1932-D and 1932-S quarter dollars. It was the best move I ever made.

Also at this time classified ads appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer. I became associated with a guy in northern Cincinnati who ran a business-cleaning service out of his house. He always had groups of coins for sale. I purchased about 20 Shield 5-cent coins for about $25. He offered me 150 Cincinnati Industrial Exposition 1888 copper medals, about 3 inches diameter, for $5 each, but I did not want 150 pieces.

About 1969 I set up at my first coin show in a shopping center in Western Hills and sold $2,000. I thought, hey, I can make money at this. I set up several times at Greenhills when Jack Meager ran the show. I remember buying an 1880 Seated Liberty quarter dollar in Covington for $20 and selling it at Greenhills for $80. I purchased my first U.S. gold coins at this time with the intention of keeping them, but I was offered such a profit, I sold them. My first Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle cost me $60.

Around 1970, Sears Stamp and Coin Shop in Covington was closing down because the owner was retiring. Over the next several months I bought everything I could from the firm at great prices. I remember buying better silver dollars for $1.15 each.

I graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1972 and decided to move to Florida. Just before I left, I had the opportunity to purchase a 1795 gold $10 piece for $4,000 or buy a new car. I made the mistake of buying the car.

In 1984 I came back to the area on vacation and attended the Greenhills show. At the very first table in the room, a guy had eight Peace dollars surrounded by baseball cards. The holder of the bottom right dollar said 1923 “Whisker Jaw Gem BU,” and it was marked at a price of $15. I asked if the seller would do any better on the price. He went to grab his “Grey Sheet” and I said, “Never mind, I’ll take it.” I also bought a 1922-S Peace dollar and five other dollars at the show for a total of $175. I sent them all in to ANACS and they all came back graded MS-65, bid at $1,700. This paid for my vacation.

These are some of my memories about coin collecting in the greater Cincinnati area. I hope you enjoyed them and maybe something clicked in your head about coin collecting that you had forgotten. Share them with your club.

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