Family has played a big part in my involvement in numismatics. My grandparents gave me a 1-peso coin as a souvenir from a trip to Mexico. I don’t remember how old I was when I received this, but this gift helped to spark my interest in the hobby.
My father dabbled in coins. He was introduced to the hobby by my great-uncle Harold. Dad would order the latest Proof set from the U.S. Mint. I don’t remember him spending a lot of time on the hobby, but he had a small box of coins that he had accumulated over the years.
I remember sitting on the dining room floor as a family and us kids would “polish” the coins up, on the carpet. Yikes! If you are new to the hobby, this is not recommended. We didn’t know any better at the time.
I did not find the United States coins that circulated in the 1970s to be very exciting. I started out as a kid saving foreign coins out of pocket change. I would set aside anything that was “different,” such as Wheat cents and Bicentennial quarters. I then focused on collecting Canadian coins, as they were readily available in circulation.
I remember going to a coin shop in Canada while we were on a family vacation. I still recall advice that the shop owner gave me, “No matter what you collect, buy the best that you can afford.” That’s still great advice, if you ask me.
In the late 1980s my father and I got involved in a local collectors group called the Williamsport Area Numismatic Society. In fact, he is now the club treasurer and I am the secretary.
Approximately 20 years ago my father took his interest in coins to a new level. He became a part-time coin dealer. We did not have a shop, but we would set up at shows and buy from and sell to local collectors. In 1995, he created a business partnership with a local coin dealer and they opened a coin shop in Williamsport, Pa. I worked for that business from 2000 to 2005. In 2005, they amicably parted ways. My father and I continued to set up at shows.
The year 2012 marks another new beginning for us. We just opened our own coin shop under the name Bob’s Coins.
I stepped away from the hobby in my 20s, but when I started collecting again I wanted to get one of everything. Of course, the budget could only stretch so far, so that idea was quickly dismissed. I decided on the Indian Head cent series. That was a convenient choice as Indian Head cents happen to be our company’s specialty. I love the design and the fact that so many varieties are available.
My father has gotten away from collecting per se. He still has a love for the hobby, but I think his interest lies in making sure that good coins find a good home in other collectors’ hands. When we are at shows he enjoys sharing his knowledge with new collectors.
He has continued to encourage my love of numismatics. Without his support I would not have been able to attend both sessions of the American Numismatic Association Summer Seminar this year in Colorado Springs, Colo. For session one I took a class on counterfeit detection and altered coins, jointly taught by Brian Silliman and Ira Goldberg. During the second session I took a course on Flying Eagles and Indian Head cents taught by Rick Snow. Both classes are highly recommended. The Summer Seminar was an amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade.
I am doing my best to carry on the family tradition and share my love of the hobby with others. On Sept. 20, I spoke to an area Boy Scout troop leader roundtable in Jersey Shore, Pa. I spoke about the Coin Collecting Merit Badge and my experiences in the hobby. I also put out a display of Indian Head cent varieties.
The group asked a lot of great questions and made me feel welcome. One of the troop leaders asked me to speak to his Boy Scout troop in February.
I’m excited that I have the chance to speak to potential collectors and maybe help them catch the collecting bug.
Paula Beiter is a coin dealer in South Williamsport, Pa., and secretary of the Williamsport Area Numismatic Society, also located in Pennsylvania.