US Coins

Beware 'dropsie' symptoms on days set aside for 'coining'

Have you ever had a day when it would have been better to just stay in bed?

I have. Menial tasks became major obstacles and my dexterity turned fumble-fingered and clumsy. I had a severe case of “dropsie.” Not the heavy-fluid-accumulation-beneath-the-skin-dropsy, but rather, the clumsy-dude-who-drops-everything-dropsie.

When I turned off the alarm clock and knocked it on the floor, I should have rolled over and called it a day. But I was going coining that day, so I was compelled to press on.

As I retrieved the clock, its cord tangled with the lamp cord. Down went the lamp, my issue of Coin World and my glasses. On my hands and knees searching for my glasses, my knee found them with a crunch. Then came the zombie-march into the shower. Reaching for the shampoo I bumped the hot water knob, scalded my neck and dropped the heavy shampoo bottle on my toe. Why I even have shampoo is really a mystery. Honestly, at this point I could adequately cleanse my head with a spritz of lemon and a damp paper towel.

I rested a moment in my agony. “Should I go to the coin show today?” “Of course you should!” I bent over to retrieve a fallen sock and split my pants; luckily I had a nice pair of lime green slacks handy. After my burnt toast and curdled milk breakfast it was time to hit the road.

Hugging my family, I threw my little one high in the air as I usually do and smacked her head on the ceiling fan. As her tears dried and a purple welt emerged from her scalp, I bolted out the door for a vigorous day of coining!

In my excitement to leave I failed to negotiate the proper distance between the side view mirror and the garage. The mirror tore off quite cleanly, a few dangling wires remaining. A quarter mile down the road the engine sputtered and I coasted into a gas station in the nick of time.

Fuel for the car and fuel for the body would get me the 50 miles to the show. A raspberry Ding Dong and a tepid cup of brown water (gas station coffee) would do the trick. The Ding Dong wrapper proved stubborn and when I finally jerked it open the cup of brown water dropped on my shoe. I managed to catch the Ding Dong under my arm. I proceeded onto the highway with a right foot soaker and pink frosting imbedded in my coining shirt.

To my surprise, I arrived at the coin show safely. In haste I darted for the entrance — a dealer friend was holding a lovely large cent for my approval. Upon entering the lobby I noticed I had stepped on a large wad of previously chewed bubble gum. Probably expectorated there by some anti-numismatic madman!

Security personal helped me pry the sticky wad from my shoe bottom and scrub the lobby floor. On the bourse, my friend had the coin waiting for me. “Now be careful,” I thought to myself, just before it fell out of my fingers.

I didn’t just drop it; I ejected it! The coin had considerable forward motion combined with gravitational pull. It hit the concrete with authority, flipped and bounced several times, and began to roll. I gave chase on my hands and knees down under the bourse tables. The coin tumbled and caromed off chair and table legs like a pinball, finally coming to rest against my friend’s shoe.

On all fours I looked up at him in horror. “That’ll be $450,” he said. On my knees I paid the man, shoved the coin in my pocket without even looking at it, then cracked my melon on the table as I stood up to leave.

I got home and crawled back into bed where the day had begun, closed my eyes to the events of the day and vowed to never go coining again with symptoms of “dropsie.”

Jeff Reichenberger, of Wisconsin, collects U.S. coins, ancient coins, medals, paper money and numismatic literature. He enjoys history, research and writing. His “Low Relief” column is dedicated to low-stress discussions of insignificant numismatic subjects, written from the angle of a “regular guy.” Comments are welcomed at

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