US Coins

Editor's Q&A: John Brush of David Lawrence Rare Coins

John and I were young numismatists together back in the 1990s, attending the ANA’s Summer Seminar. Now two decades later, John is President of one of the largest rare coin dealers in the country, balancing family while pursuing his dream job.

Image courtesy of John Brush

John Brush has been a coin collector since age 5, a member of the American Numismatic Association since 1987, and a full-time dealer since 2002. When not dealing coins, John and Ruth, his wife, along with their two sons, enjoy traveling throughout the country and cheering on the Tennessee Volunteers and Atlanta Braves. 

Brush was named president of David Lawrence Rare and Certified Coins in December 2015. 

Q: What brought you to coins?

A: My father was a coin collector since the 1950s, and while he stopped in 1980 when I was born, he got back into it slowly. I played baseball and collected baseball cards, but he warned me that they would one day be worthless if something happened, and in 1994 Major League Baseball went on strike and the baseball card market plummeted. Luckily, he steered me towards coins in 1987 (ANA member since then!) and he got me hooked. My first set was of Proof Franklin Halves and I migrated to Buffalo Nickels after that. And when life got busy, my love for history kept my love for coins alive. … I’m very thankful for my dad’s encouragement along the way. He even got my mom into collecting as years went by!

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Q: With two young sons, how do you balance family and your work?

A: There are so many things I love about my job. I’ve seen many parts of the world, I’ve owned some fantastic coins, and most importantly I’ve met many great people that live around the country that I can call friends. I also never know what the next day may hold. I may be traveling to acquire a 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar or just buying a group of Proof sets from a young family. Every day is fun and rewarding. At the same time, I have a young family with 5- and 6-year-old boys. Being away from them when I’m traveling to coin shows is by far the toughest part of my job. But, as they grow older, I hope that they will enjoy traveling with me a little more. As for now, they are super excited about going to Disneyland as the ANA heads to Anaheim this summer.

Q: What advice would you give to young collectors considering turning their hobby into a career?

A: Take advantage of every opportunity you can. Apply for a scholarship and go to the ANA Summer Seminar. Go to an ANA World’s Fair of Money if you have a chance and don’t be afraid to talk to dealers on the bourse floor. Most dealers are more than willing to chat with you about becoming a professional numismatist. Check out coin dealer’s websites, read as much as you can by subscribing to Coin World or checking books out from the ANA Library. There’s so much information out there and the wider your base of knowledge becomes, the more opportunities you will develop. Also, many coin dealers did not attend college but I strongly encourage that you do go! It’s the greatest time in your life and you learn much about yourself and it will only help you in the long run as you become an adult. And, while you’re at it, apply for internships! Many (like David Lawrence) don’t advertise that they’d support such a thing, but it never hurts to ask. Most importantly, always ask questions!

Q: Looking forward, where do you see our hobby in 10 years? 

A: I believe that in ten years we will continue to see more young people get into the hobby and business. The hobby and the business will become more technologically advanced as far as the spread of information and how people buy and sell coins. There will be a new generation of coin dealers that will slowly become more prominent and bring the hobby into more mainstream prominence.

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