Featured Going Through My Late Dad's Collection 50 years later

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Jim Leff, Apr 4, 2020.

  1. Jim Leff

    Jim Leff Member

    I'm finally getting around to working through my late dad's coin collection (I posted about his hoard of wheat cents here).

    The adventure has sparked some thoughts, and I figured some of you might enjoy them...and relate!

    I was into coins as a very young kid. That's why I was given his coins when he died. That was a long time ago, and I've been too busy to even crack it open. But with the virus quarantine, I have some downtime, so I dragged the big heavy box up from the basement (man, coins weigh a ton!).

    The main reason I've put this off is that I know there are a handful of valuable coins, plus a ton of "enthusiast" stuff. I didn't want to just ferret out the valuable stuff, sell it, and apply the few hundred bucks to my next mortgage payment like it was nothing. That's not why he left me this stuff. It would feel like grave-robbing.

    However, not being 7 years old anymore, the notion that a penny might be worth $1.14 no longer gives me much thrill. So I'm caught in a no-mans land of mild interest and low stakes.

    Still, I wanted to do right by my Dad - to take a genuine interest - without bogging down and poring over every piece. And after two afternoons of sorting and exploring, I can report that it was more fun than I'd expected.

    Above all, there were mysteries to solve.

    Why on earth were there 15 rolls of uncirculated 1967 pennies? What was Dad thinking? Suddenly I got it: he hoped they'd provide a windfall 50 years later. Sorry, Dad. Nice try, but into the Coinstar machine they went! I enjoyed solving the mystery. It wasn't a bad gambit at the time.

    Why are there tubes of Roosevelt and Mercury dimes, with dates all mixed up? I realized: silver hedge. Between these and the silvery quarters (in yet another box), he had $500-600 in silver squirreled away. You can have some fun for that kind of money! I'll sell them for the silver content and buy Amazon gift certificates for each of his grandchildren. Again, I enjoyed figuring out his intentions, and trying to do right by him.

    His 1965 Churchill uncirculated crown must have seemed like a good investment at the time, but he didn't realize millions of other people thought the same thing! But his 1968 uncirculated Mexican 25 Peso Olympics coin worked out a lot better. It's worth a steak dinner. Thanks, Dad!

    Born in the 1920s, I understand why he avidly collected old Buffalo nickels from the 10s and 20s. That, for him, was like my collecting coins from the 40s and 50s as a child. But man, oh, man....the condition. For the most part, dates are barely visible. We do not wear out nickels like that anymore, or anything else, for that matter. That's a deep observation you'd only get from coin collecting! I haven't seen a coin in 30 years that was half as worn out as these miserable, exhausted Buffalo nickels. They're downright ERODED! Untold thousands kept these coins rubbing around their pockets; the coins of the realm; the workhorses. Another time, a poorer nation.

    And then the pennies. They were always my favorite. I spent countless hours with my own penny collection as a child; a fine outlet for my obsessive energy. I LIKE pennies, even still. Yet I can't work through his vast pool of unsorted wheaties, grading and checking price. I no longer have the single-minded enthusiasm and dedication. But I did get my hands very dirty, even with my light survey. My fingers smelled like copper. It was a good day.

    Decisions to be deferred: what to do with his wartime steel pennies and surprising couple rolls of 1960 small dates, a mystery I don't think I'll solve. What an odd thing to specialize in!

    I still haven't opened the valuable boxes. I'll post more as I work through. The scale of total value couldn't really hold my interest (I should have done this when I was younger and $200 still meant the world to me), but I'm enjoying, more than I expected, getting into my Dad's head and gauging why he did what he did, and trying to figure out my next steps. And I like how my fingers smell.

    To be continued....
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  3. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    Old coins are addictive. All that history in your hands is a magical thing. I’m glad you are enjoying the experience...... Yes, coins worked much harder a century ago. More than that though is that the mint miscalculated when they placed the date on the highest point on those old Buffalo nickels. Being placed in such a pronounced location insured that the dates would wear away.
  4. bud250r

    bud250r Member

    Love the story.
    Keep us posted on future finds.
    Jim Leff likes this.
  5. Jim Leff

    Jim Leff Member

    Thanks, Bud. Randy, you made my day. I didn't know that, and am glad to have learned!
    Randy Abercrombie likes this.
  6. Jim Leff

    Jim Leff Member

    Re: the 1960 small dates, I'm guessing what happened - in light of the 1965 Churchill and 1968 25 peso - was that he had a window of renewed coin interest in the mid 60s. And at that point, 1960 small dates were the most valuable find still in relatively wide circulation. If you were going to watch for one single coin in your pocket at that moment, that would be the one (55 double die consciousness was very high by that point...you weren't likely to find one).

    And 1960 small date, sort of like Betty Grable, didn't hold its notoriety. It seems super obscure now, but not then, as the final hurrah when it came to potential minor jackpots in your pocket....
    Randy Abercrombie likes this.
  7. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    Sounds exciting to me. Take your time, learn and appreciate what your father liked. Welcome to CT.
  8. Mainebill

    Mainebill Wild Bill

    Enjoy the coins and memories
  9. Phil Ham

    Phil Ham Hamster

    I started collecting wheat pennies and still take joy in them today. I loved your thread and keep giving us updates.
  10. Jim Leff

    Jim Leff Member

    Ok, shaggy dog ending....

    Having cashed in the 1967 pennies for a big $7.50 payday, and more or less organized the deluge of unsorted pennies (I've ordered a bunch of wrappers from Amazon), and respectfully glanced through the steel pennies and 1960-small-date pennies, the sad eroded Buffalo nickels, and the speculative silver dimes and quarters, I finally worked down to the bottom of the box, where I found....

    More pennies. This time sorted, at least. Good-not-great dates. Looks like he ceased the sorting project in the late 1940s (which explains the subsequent penny pile-up).

    I could swear he had a few higher class pieces, maybe bought at auction. I think I remember something about something Roman, though certainly nothing spectacular. And I'm pretty sure there were a bunch of 19th century silver dollars. If so, that stuff's hidden in a different basement box. The mystery endures!


    I'll sell the silver for the silver, and, per the other thread, find a way to unload the unsorted wheats. The steel pennies and 60-small-dates I guess willgo on eBay, along with the Mexican 25 peso (aka steak dinner). The sorted pennies, I need to at least roughly grade and value.

    I'd sell here, but the warning in the For Sale forum (smart to put up, by the way; I ran an online forum once, myself, so I sympathize) scares me. Also, I'm told I need a certain amount of seniority to post there.

    Though it makes my story here a bit of a dud, I actually like the uncertainty of whether some more exciting and valuable cache awaits me in the basement...true or not. I'd simply let it go, but I do need to work through every box for an upcoming move out of the country about a year from now. So I'll report back if I find anything!
  11. White Ger. Shep. Lover

    White Ger. Shep. Lover Active Member

    Hit the basement, Jim. Who knows. Maybe a pot of gold awaits? Something tells that the final chapter has yet to be written on your coin adventure.
    Jim Leff likes this.
  12. Jim Leff

    Jim Leff Member

    Woah. Those rolls of WWII steel pennies were like treasure in the 70s, but seem to have plummeted in value! Not sure why. I've posted a query here.
  13. ewomack

    ewomack Senior Member Supporter

    It could be much worse - you could be comparing the prices of stamps from the 1970s to now.

    You might just pass out stunned.
  14. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    Today it's better to lick those stamps for postage. To the post office they are worth face value.
  15. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    You have enough seniority to post in the "for sale" section (minimum 10 posts). And we did have a bad apple or so that took some nice folks money and apparently did not send product in return. So the warning is appropriate. I'll tell you though that I have done a great deal of business in the "for sale" section with absolutely no troubles whatsoever. From experience I can say that 99 9/10% of the folks trading here on CT are as honorable as the day is long. I believe it would be worth your while to market some stuff here if you choose to do so. I wouldn't hesitate to do it myself. It's just that the forum cannot moderate any deals that we choose to do.
  16. Jim Leff

    Jim Leff Member

    Thanks, Randy. Absolutely, the forum can't be responsible. And I trust collectors in a forum a lot more than the randomness of eBay....
    Randy Abercrombie likes this.
  17. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Photograph it and post it over at the ancients forum. We'll tell you what it is.
  18. mynamespat

    mynamespat Dingus

    I would have sold the BU cents on ebays. Based on completed sales, I think it would be pretty easy to sell as a group, ship flat rate package, and net $20-30 on 15 rolls of BU '67 cents.
  19. dlts

    dlts Member

    Hi Jim-
    I hadn't read the posts on this thread until now, and I stumbled onto this by accident. Now I fully understand where you're coming from and am so excited for you (at least I would be!). I hope that you continue to enjoy the hunt, and if you have second thoughts about selling the pennies because of your Dad, just let me know.
    P.S. I enjoy reading your entries.
    Jim Leff likes this.
  20. Kaipolehua

    Kaipolehua New Member

    Aloha! Would you be interested in selling any pennies that are left? I would be seriously interested. I’m a retired widow and I’ve been squirreling away loose change for years. I did have to turn a bunch into the bank as I was going off island for a bit and someone had seen my small barrel of assorted coins and wanted to use some of these coins... I don’t mind giving money to family - I do need to know how much was needed, and take a look at what’s valuable, rare, etc. Time was a factor...so I hurriedly rolled the barrel = $4000. In coins exchanged at my bank. I really wished I could have searched through these...
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