Collectors see historic, artistic aspects of coins

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

To Pat Vetter and Blaine Shiff, who each will be participating at the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists Coin Show & Convention, set for next week at the Monroeville Convention Center, there is more to collecting coins than the value.

They think that along with “heads and tails,” there are artistic and historical sides to coins, as well.

And the same is true of many collectors heading to the free twice-a-year show, which offers a chance to buy, sell or trade items with more than 60 dealers, said Shiff, the show's bourse chairman. The bourse is the sales floor.

Along with being interested in the value of a numismatic piece, which can include silver dollars, gold coins, U.S. coins, foreign coins and ancient coins, many collectors, such as Shiff, care about the design of a piece.

“They're exquisite pieces of art. I really appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into a coin or token,” said Shiff, who owns with his brother, Brad Shiff.

Those attending next week's show, which runs from 1 to 6 p.m. May 9, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 10 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 11, also can find tokens, medals, paper money and bullion, which refers to gold, silver, platinum and palladium.

Blaine Shiff, 51, of Bethel Park, likens the artwork on a coin to a “beautiful” sculpture, which then has to be fashioned and formed onto a small piece of material.

He also agrees with Vetter, who said he finds the historical value of coins amazing.

“A person collecting ancient coins, they can say, ‘Maybe Jesus held this in his hand',” said Vetter, who is owner of Pat & BJ Coins in Monroeville and will be one of the dealers at the show.

Whatever the type of numismatic piece, whether it is old or new, there is some history or story to it.

And for Vetter, who has been collecting Mercury dimes, the U.S. dime from 1916 to 1945, since he was a teenager, it's fascinating to think various coins might have been.

For example, a coin from the late 1850s could have been carried by someone fighting in the Civil War, Vetter said.

“It's a part of history,” said Vetter, 65, of Monroeville.

People in the area should be checking their change around the time of the show because it might include a 1913 buffalo nickel.

As part of an event that's new for this year, someone from the show committee will be spending the 100-year-old coin in the area, whether it's by purchasing lunch at a local diner or buying an item at a store, Blaine Shiff said.

Whoever finds it can bring it to Shiff or another committee member at the show and will receive $100, he said.

“The buffalo nickel was brand new in 1913, so we thought it'd be cool to spend that 100 years after that design first came out,” Blaine Shiff said.

He said hints to where the coin might have been spent prior to the show might be on the Facebook page for the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists, or PAN.

Regardless of whether they find the coin, people coming to the show can participate in a variety of educational programs and view collectors' exhibits, he said.

Dealers come from places ranging from the East Coast to Texas, Florida and Nebraska. Blaine Shiff said the show is “like a bridge between the Midwest and the East Coast” for dealers and collectors.

He said the American Numismatic Association Certification Service, or ANACS, will be on site. ANACS is a third-party service that provides coin authentication and grading services.

Vetter said that service is a great reason for new and experienced collectors to attend the coin show.

Also, Vetter said, those new to the hobby can obtain advice from dealers and other collectors at the show, such as how to improve a collection or tips on organizing.

Dealers at the show share the same passion for coins and related items that their customers do and develop one-on-one relationships with clients, Vetter said.

“This is real personal,” he said.

In addition to being a great place for new collectors, the show also has plenty for veterans, Vetter said.

“For the seasoned collector, they have an idea of what they're looking for before they come to the show,” he said.

They will be able to appreciate the rare pieces that typically are available at such shows, he said.

“There'll be some home-run hitters there,” Vetter said, meaning people will find coins they have been seeking for a long time.

The show is an event for everyone in the family and includes the PAN Kids Zone, where the youngest collectors can obtain a penny book to start a penny collection, Shiff said. The event also features a just-for-kids auction.

Overall, Vetter said, there will be numismatic pieces on sale for prices ranging from a nickel to thousands of dollars. Whether interested in pieces for historical, artistic or investment purposes, every collector can find something at the show, Vetter and Shiff said.

“It's history, art, investment and education all in one piece,” Shiff said.

Natalie Beneviat is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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