The Duncan Banner

February 11, 2010

A penny saved is a penny earned

Toni Hopper

America was built on investments. And over the years those investments have caused the rise and fall of this same country. From the Great Depression to the modern recession, it all revolves around the almighty dollar.

Yet, it takes plenty of cents to create that dollar and for that, coin collector J.T. Whatley has a hobby that he has never grown tired of in his 20 years of pursuit.

Coin collecting or “numismatics” for Whatley is more about the history then it is the value and this weekend he, along with other collectors, will gather to share, trade and invest their interests.

“The nation’s history is reflected in its coins,” he said. “The old coins have intrinsic value and always increase in that value.”

It’s the 41st annual Stephens County Coin Show, which is Saturday and Sunday, at the county fairgrounds.

Whatley expects there to be fewer exhibitors this year for many reasons. Much of that is because of the weather, he said. Yet, he’s not too worried as the Texas exhibitors who were planning on coming, notified him Thursday afternoon that they left a day early when the snowfall began.

Whatley also wonders if the recession might attribute to the low exhibitor registration.

But he doesn’t wonder for long because whether there are 20 or 200 exhibitors, Whatley finds the coin show to be fascinating for everything it offers.

“Coins are a powerful reminder of what the nation has become.”

He outlines the time period from 1832 to 1913 as that of free banking and discovers coins produced in that time to be extremely interesting.

Whatley has several interesting coin stories to share, which many times, revolve around the financial aspect.

“One year there was a banker who had some counterfeit coins and those would be hard pressed to tell they weren’t real,” Whatley said. The banker specialized in collecting the fake coins.

“One coin was really dark and he explained that it was a lead quarter. The authenticity is becoming a big thing to me. We are getting a lot of counterfeit coins from China. One thing I don’t understand is why our government isn’t doing more to prevent this,” he said.

Oddities are another thing about coin collecting that Whatley finds fascinating.

“You need to ask questions when you go to a coin show,” he said. “Odd coins like 3-cent coins and 3-cent nickels can be seen. I also like mercury dimes and buffalo nickels.”

Whatley said for those who have never been to a coin show, it’s a good experience and could peak someone’s interest to start a new hobby. He said it can get expensive, especially if someone is collecting gold coins or specializes in the hunt for a certain era like Civil War currency.

“Exhibiting is all about educating,” he said. “The power of history is to ignite the imagination, stimulate thought and shape the future.”

Members of the Stephens County Coin club will be available to offer their numismatics knowledge.

“That ‘numismatics’ is a big word for the study of coins,” Whatley shared. “We are working to increase our educational programs.”

The group, which has more than 60 members, meets at 6:30 p.m. the fourth Monday of each month at the Red River Technology Center.

— Toni Hopper is a reporter for The Duncan Banner. She can be reached at 580-255-5354, Ext. 132 or by e-mail at: