Fort Lauderdale Coin Club marks 60 years serving area collectors

Guest Commentary from the April 27, 2015, issue of Coin World
By , for Coin World
Published : 04/13/15
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This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Fort Lauderdale Coin Club founded in the fall of 1955 by a group of collectors who had a vision for forming south Florida’s largest coin club for the greater Miami/Fort Lauderdale area. 

Prior to the club’s formation, coin collectors gathered in collectors’ garages set up with a few chairs, or in restaurants, collectors’ homes, patio decks and churches. With many families seeking better weather or a place to retire, south Florida grew greatly in the 1950s, and with that growth came many new coin shops that supported the collector base. In addition, families moving into south Florida brought their collections with them, and many of these coins formed the basis of south Florida coin collecting and the formation of the Fort Lauderdale Coin Club.

The club’s meetings in the early years were held once a month, with a coin show once a year in the fall with an average of 100 dealers. Club membership grew very quickly over the years to over 250 members in the 1970s where one would find over 75 members at meetings now held twice a month. 

Meetings consisted of a report by the club president and other board members followed by a talk by a club member about his collecting interests. In the 1960s the club started a member auction with 50 to 100 lots of numismatic items, a tradition carried to this day. 

One club member from the 1970 to 1990 era, E.O. Smith, was legendary. Members said he could recite the “Red Book” and tell you everything you wanted to know about U.S. coinage. Smith was always willing to open his garage, which contained his coin safe, and pull out certain coins that he thought special. He was also eager to teach younger club members on the finer points of numismatics in his garage office. The club recently named its highest award for individual numismatic distinction in honor of Smith. 

The Fort Lauderdale Coin Club joined the American Numismatic Association in 1987 as its 52nd life member club and celebrated its 25th ANA anniversary on Aug. 1, 2012. The club was the host club for the March 3 to 5, 2000, ANA National Money Show in Fort Lauderdale. 

The club has also commemorated its anniversaries with rounds and tokens. The 25th anniversary was commemorated in a silver round, the 50th anniversary was marked by an encased Florida State quarter dollar, and the 60th will be commemorated with a token. Occasionally, wooden nickels were made to advertise club coin shows, in the early years.

Today the club meets at Volunteer Park Community Center in Plantation, Fla., which is part of western Fort Lauderdale and only a few miles from the edge of the Florida Everglades. Members range in age from 14 to 89 years of age and from all walks of life. Meetings are held the second and fourth Thursdays of every month (with a few exceptions), and coin shows are held every month of the year with an average of 50 dealers at each show. 

Each meeting includes an educational activity were a member gives a talk on a particular coin series and handouts are given to members. Education is focused on the people and driving force behind the creation of a particular coin series, collectibility of a series, prices and varieties. 

We also have an auction of 100 numismatic items submitted by club members, and it is always full of varied numismatic items, such as books, U.S. and world coins, tokens, paper money and supplies. 

Meetings today have a passion-packed agenda of numismatics, with the next meeting not happening soon enough.

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