founder and former Professional Numismatists Guild President Leon
E. Hendrickson died July 23 at Summers Pointe Senior Living in
Mr. Hendrickson was 90.
The PNG, in which Mr. Hendrickson held membership since 1970, issued
the following statement upon Mr. Hendrickson’s passing:
“The Professional Numismatists Guild was saddened to learn of the
passing of longtime member Leon Hendrickson of Winchester, Ind.
Hendrickson joined the PNG in 1970, served as the organization’s
president from 1985 to 1989 and received the PNG Lifetime Achievement
Award in 2003. He was one of the first members approved as a PNG
Accredited Precious Metals Dealer when the PNG-APMD program was
created in 2015,” PNG Executive Director Robert Brueggeman said.
“Leon was a giant in the profession and hobby. He was a good friend
to so many collectors and dealers across the country. Our condolences
to his family and friends,” said PNG President Dana Samuelson.
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Mr. Hendrickson entered numerous professions during his working
career, many of them at the same time: farmer, roller-skating rink
proprietor, rural-mail carrier, high school basketball referee,
None of those careers was as satisfying, rewarding and lucrative to
him, however, as that of professional numismatist.
And the seed that started that numismatic career was a cigar box in
that Winchester restaurant, The Rainbow, that Mr. Hendrickson and his
wife, Ruhama, known as Hamie, co-owned with her parents.
Connecting coins, the arts, and American
Another column in the August 7 monthly issue of Coin World
continues with the art theme, as the artists who’ve designed our
most gorgeous pieces of paper currency are profiled.
Mr. Hendrickson left the family farm at age 17 to enlist in the
U.S. Navy during World War II; he served aboard the USS Caldwell
in the South Pacific. On his first leave home, Mr. Hendrickson and
Hamie were married.
Jockeying multiple jobs while helping to run the restaurant, Mr.
Hendrickson still found the time to serve on the local school board
for 16 years, as well as on the board of directors of a local bank of
which he would later become majority stockholder.
The Winchester Coin Shop, which began in the restaurant and
burgeoned into today’s SilverTowne, soon became Mr. Hendrickson’s
Mr. Hendrickson credited his brother-in-law, Dick Rhoades, with
sparking his interests in coin collecting.
Dick, already a coin collector, periodically worked at The Rainbow.
During his shifts, Dick would examine the change customers would pay
their bills with, looking for coins to add to his collection. Coins
from the restaurant’s candy machine would also be inspected. Select
coins were put into a cigar box next to the restaurant’s cash register
or on plates on the counter.
Mr. Hendrickson, with entrepreneurial prowess, quickly picked up on
being able to turn around and sell, for more than face value, coins
received in payment. He found that customers often purchased the
special coins with change they received from their restaurant bills.
The coin business began to pick up. Coins were put in display cases
that replaced the cigar box and plates.
Mr. Hendrickson’s son, David, at the age of 9, kept busy combing
through countless quantities of coins, although Mr. Hendrickson did
not push his son’s interest in numismatics. However, David
Hendrickson’s interest in numismatics never waned, and he remains at
the helm of the company his father founded.
Eventually, the Hendricksons’ coin business was so good that the new
enterprise, the Winchester Coin Shop, took over the space on the
second floor above The Rainbow.
A new home was erected on property from the Hendrickson family farm
upon which Leon Hendrickson grew up. In 1964, the basement of that
ranch-style home would house the expanding coin business, by then
renamed SilverTowne. That year, Leon entered the coin business full-time.
The basement was renovated to full size; in the original home
construction, the basement had covered only half the area under the
home’s main floor.
By the time of the passage of the Coinage Act of 1965, SilverTowne
was among the largest buyers and sellers of silver coins in the Midwest.
Mr. Hendrickson was instrumental in securing significant numbers of
$1,000 face value bags of silver dollars in the 1970s that had been
held in Treasury vaults.
The 1970s also brought two major coin deals involving the
acquisition and disposition of silver dollars — buying and selling
portions of the LaVere Redfield hoard of more than 400,000 silver
dollars, and brokering with Ed Milas from Rare Coin Company of America
the hoard of 1,500 1,000-coin bags of Morgan silver dollars from the
cash-strapped Continental Illinois Bank of Chicago.
In 1980, construction began on what has become known as the “Mighty
Fortress,” a dedicated new facility for SilverTowne; it was completed
In 1985, Leon paid $500,000 to George Vogt from Colonial Coins in
Houston to acquire the James V. Dexter specimen of Class I 1804 Draped
Bust dollar. The coin is recognizable by the small D punched into the
cloud below the O in OF on the reverse.
Mr. Hendrickson held memberships in more than 30 numismatic
organizations, and received recognition from most of them for his contributions.
In addition to serving as PNG president, Mr. Hendrickson also served
terms as president for the Central States Numismatic Society and
Indiana State Numismatic Association.
Recognition beyond his PNG accolades includes being recognized by
the American Numismatic Association in 1990 with its Medal of Merit;
in 2003 with the ANA Presidential Award; and in 2008 as the ANA
Numismatist of the Year.
Mr. Hendrickson was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years,
Ruhama Pearl Rhoades; a brother, Chester Hendrickson; and two
grandsons, Jason Andrew Barker and Corby Lee Hendrickson.
Mr. Hendrickson is survived by one brother, Stanley Hendrickson
(wife Gretchen) and one sister, Myrtle Huffer; a son, David
Hendrickson (wife Debbie); two daughters, Kathy Barker (husband Steve)
and Tanda Abel (husband Tony); and numerous grandchildren,
great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren: Carrie Chipley
(husband Mike) of Kalispell, Montana, Ryan Barker (wife Katie), Kevin
Barker (wife Shannon), Eric Barker (wife Melanie) all of Winchester,
Andy Abel (Amanda Hindsley), Tyler Abel (wife Allanna) both of
Winchester, Brock Abel (wife Eva) of Muncie, Chad Allen (wife Jami) of
Lynn, Cheyanne Allen of Fairview, Tennessee; great grandchildren,
Kaitlyn Chipley (Chris McClung), Abby and Rachel Chipley, Paige,
Parker, Jane and Payne Abel, Jayden Hindsley, Emmaline and Tillman
Abel, Emerson and Lillian Abel, Mason and Molly Barker, Ross and
Breena Barker, Lexie and Chloe Barker, Elijah, Alyssa and Noah Allen;
and two great-great grandsons, Keldrick Enis and Liam McClung.
The family asks that donations be given to the Leon and Ruhama
Hendrickson and Family Scholarship Fund, 213 S. Main St., Winchester,
IN 47394, or Hendrickson Trust Fund for Local Out Reach, 1212 E. 100
S, Winchester, IN 47394.