Featured Remember the Old "Brick & Mortar" Coin Shops ?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Al Kowsky, Mar 27, 2021.

  1. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    My brother and I collected coins out of change when we were boys. In the 60's and early 70's you could still find an occasional Mercury dime, Buffalo nickel, Franklin half, and a fair share of Canadian. One day (I must have been 7 or 8 years old), my grandmother took me to the Bon Marche in downtown Seattle, where they had a coin department on the 5th floor. It was my first exposure to the idea that you could spend your brand new boring money on extremely interesting old money!

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  3. J.T. Parker

    J.T. Parker Well-Known Member

    This thread just reminded me. I have an eMail friend that goes to his local Coin Shop in Ansonia CT. The dealer there treats him very well & is closer to being his friend than just a dealer.
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  4. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Basileus Megalos

    The few stores left in the Bay Area have huge signs saying they buy gold and silver. There is one in Albany (California) where they have to buzz you in at the door and everything is behind bulletproof glass. Hardly inviting. And they have no ancients, just gold US pieces, silver Morgan dollars and that kind of thing.
  5. Evan Saltis

    Evan Saltis 2 years on CT! Supporter

    I dream to open an LCS :(
    The one where I live just hounds the blue book and marks everything up from it. All raw coins. So might as well go online. The guys didn't know about RPMs or anything, they were just lame. Idk how the owner (who is great) kept them there.

    Sad to see
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  6. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    John, I was a very lucky kid growing up, my mother worked as a bank teller & brought me rolls of coins to go through every week :happy:. You would be shocked at the coins I found including commemorative half dollars, Barber coinage, V nickels, Indian head pennies, two 1914-D pennies, & a complete set of Peace dollars except for the 1921. My twin brother Henry collected postage stamps so I had all the coins to myself, although he would occasionally steal coins from my collection :shifty: & buy candy with them from the corner store :rage:. We used to fight so much my father bought us boxing gloves & we would duke it out on a regular basis in the basement :hilarious:. The good old days :rolleyes:.
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  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Your brother was very important to me when I was a kid and collected US coins from circulation. My mother would advance me the money (usually $50 - a lot in the 1950's) so I could buy a canvas bag of coins from a vending machine company in town. The coins were loose (not rolled). I would sort through these coins that recently bought a gumball or some such and replace the ones I wanted with ordinary coins. Then I would roll the coins in paper and take them to the bank (which required them to be rolled). I was convinced that some of my best finds were coins kids snuck out of dad's collection and spent on penny candy and nickel Cokes. Vending machine coins were better than the coins last used in some store that catered to adults because of the 'sticky-fingered kid' factor. I still have a couple Liberty seated dimes and coins just too nice to have been almost 50 years old and have been in circulation all that time. Thanks to kids with a sweet tooth, I got coins I wanted. Then, I discovered ancients and the thrill of bag searches went away. Today it bothers me that my young self was interested in coins only a few decades old. The average coin I collected is three times as old now as it was then. Ancients have barely aged at all in these last decades.
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  8. Mrktstrtmyhm

    Mrktstrtmyhm Member

    Dang. As a new collector this is sad. It's not the first time I've heard it either. I wonder why the animosity and hostility? Is it some "members only" prestige these places think they're holier than thou? I think I should visit some and see for myself.

    That being said I would browse through the local antique dealer's foreign coin bucket and try to get some good deals. It was any four coins for $1. The coolest ones I found were a German pfenning made of aluminum during the 30's and a few USSR coins.
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  9. J.T. Parker

    J.T. Parker Well-Known Member

    During my flea market days (Pre-Cambrian) I always had a large bowl loaded with foreign coins (8 for $1.00). I found that it would draw the youngsters in to look through & that in turn would force their parents to really look at the items on my table. many times I 'salted' the bowl with both Indian head cents & buffalo nickels.
    Great fun and it may have started a few new coin collectors.
    Didn't hurt my sales either,
  10. kirispupis

    kirispupis Well-Known Member

    When I was a kid, my parents would constantly take me to gem shows. I would agree to go (though not like I had a choice) because they often had dealers with similar bowls. I'd spend the entire time sifting through the bowl. My greatest "prizes" were an 1835 British East India Co 1/4 Anna, an 1861 British penny, a 1797 US penny (extremely worn), and an 1852 Bank of Upper Canada penny. I believe none of these is worth much, but at the time I thought it was amazing I could own something so old (I knew nothing about ancients).
  11. J.T. Parker

    J.T. Parker Well-Known Member

    Coin Bowls RULE!
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  12. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    A very enjoyable thread. I'm very lucky - I purchased my first ancient from a brick n' mortar store in 1987 and he is still in business today.

    There have been changes - the "and Stamps" part of the company name has been dropped. They still deal in stamps, but it is a minuscule part of their business. For a while they were heavily into sports cards, when that particular bubble was expanding (I used to tease the owners about this). Now they sell a lot of jewelry - I suspect that is their biggest seller. But they still carry ancients, mostly really nice ones I cannot afford - they days of a bin of $25 sestertii are long over.

    Anyway, here is my first purchase from them in 1987

    Septimius Severus - Den MARS PATER ZA RIC 46 1987 (0).jpg
    Septimius Severus Denarius
    (194-195 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP IIII, laureate head right / MARS PATER, Mars walking right, holding spear in right hand, trophy over left shoulder.
    RIC 46; RSC 311; BMCRE 84.
    (3.23 grams / 18 mm)

    And here is something I bought from them in March 2021, just a couple weeks ago, my first siglos:
    Persia - Siglos big AZ Mar 17 2021 (0).jpg
    Persian Empire, Lydia Siglos
    Darius II - Artaxerxes II
    n.d. (c. 420 - 375 B.C.)
    Sardes Mint

    Kneeling-running figure of the Great King right, dagger in right hand, bow in left hand, waist indicated / Oblong incuse.
    Carradice Type IV (middle) B; SNG Kayhan 1033; SGCV II 4683
    (5.54 grams / 12 mm)

    Every once in a while he prices something inexplicably (to me) cheap. Here is a fairly respectable late-reign denarius of Commodus they sold me for $18 in 2017. This sort of deal doesn't come along very often, however:

    Commodus den. AZ Aug 14 2017 (8).JPG
    Commodus Denarius
    (191-192 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    L AEL AVREL COMM AVG P FEL, laureate head right / VOTA SOLV PRO SAL PR, Commodus standing left, sacrificing out of a patera over tripod altar, prostrate bull left
    RIC 262; RSC 984; Sear 5725.
    (2.60 grams / 17 mm)

    The original owners are heading towards retirement and the new owner is primarily a jewelry person, so I have a feeling I am approaching an end of an era with them.


    Then there was the dealer in Columbus, Ohio I bought a few ancients from. Nice guy, but the first time I visited (c. 1987) he made a point of producing a very large automatic pistol (I think it was a .45) and laying it on his safe behind the counter when I approached. I was going through a punk rock-New Wave phase back then and looked a bit of a fright. We got along fine after I bought some stuff. I can't remember the name of the shop, so I have no idea whether or not he's still around.

    Here is an antoninianus of Elagabalus I bought from him in '87:

    Elagabalus - Ant. PROVID DEORVM RIc 129 1987 (0).jpg
    Elagabalus Antoninianus
    (218-222 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    IMP ANTONINVS AVG, radiate draped and cuirassed bust right /PROVID DEORVM, Providentia standing left holding wand over globe and cornucopia, leaning on column with left elbow.
    RIC 129; RSC 243; BMC 155.
    (5.09 grams / 23 mm)
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  13. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Oh my goodness the Bon Marche in Seattle. I remember that store. I think it was in 1964 I went there with my parents and my Uncle Ellsworth and Aunt Ann to that store. They lived in Bremerton Washington and she worked at the navy yard, so I was able to see the battleship USS Missouri while it was there in mothballs. I thought this ship was the biggest I had ever seen until I looked over and saw the aircraft carrier berthed beside it. Eventually we went to Seattle. I remember going to the coin department and found a coin that looked something like this one 2308976Heritage 3037.jpg This is NOT my coin. This coin is from Heritage Auctions 3037 This coin looked a lot better than the one I saw at the Bon. It was covered with chop marks, but to me it was a treasure. At the time I was really interested in Spanish Colonial. This was an unrequited love as I could never find any. Bon_Marché_flagship_store,_Seattle_(2000).jpg This is a picture of that store. It does bring back fond memories
  14. savitale

    savitale Well-Known Member

    Are there any brick and mortar ancient coins stores? I guess there is Harlan J. Berk but that is half a country away from me.
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  15. cwart

    cwart Senior Member

    This thread has me feeling kinda guilty. We have a great shop here in Louisville, but since they dropped their weekend hours a few years ago I haven't been able to visit much at all. They have been great with me since I started going there and with various shutdowns the past year I need to stop by and see what they have. Since I only have to work a half day Friday I may stop by on my way home.
  16. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    In 1990-91 I worked as a temp in the Chicago Loop. On my lunch breaks I would press my nose against the Harlan J. Berk window display, which could be viewed from the street. Such wonderful coins, ancients and everything else. Far beyond my reach, temp salary being pretty pitiful and Chicago cost of living pretty high. Still, it was nice to look. :watching:

    Here's a photo from HJB's website: https://www.hjbltd.com/#!/store/home


    Just the way I remember it.
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  17. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    I'd like to visit his store while I'm still above ground :D.
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  18. Jim-P

    Jim-P Member

    When I was a kid Karl's Koins was just down the street from me. I used to love going through the junk box!
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  19. John Skelton

    John Skelton Morgan man!

    My LCS is Bacchus & Rockwell in Lee's Summit, Missouri, and the owner is very friendly. In fact, I took a friend of mine there last Monday and we both bought coins from him. Yes, he does buzz you in, but that's okay, because he's so friendly you don't even think about it.

    While selling coins is his main business, you can also find a little bit of jewelry, some arrow heads, fossils, very nice pocket watches, and this time had a drum set!

    Locally, this is the only shop I visit. The other coin shop isn't friendly at all, so it bothers me when I see the ad for it at the beginning of a thread here.
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  20. AuldFartte

    AuldFartte Supporter! Supporter

    There was (and still is) one great coin shop in my former hometown of Albuquerque, NM. The owner is a great guy. I'd say 75% +/- of my collections came from his shop. I will be vacationing there later this year and will visit his shop with a fistful of cash.

    Also, the Albuquerque Coin Club has two shows a year in Albuquerque, usually with 100 tables. Most of the dealers represented there are great people to work with and learn from. There are always a handful of unfriendly types and they don't sell much.

    Coin shops (if you can call them that!) in my new location in southwestern WA are lacking in decent inventory, so I'll have to go somewhere else to purchase coins in the area. Perhaps in Portland, OR.
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  21. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Stack's Bowers still has a store in NYC; they've been around since the 1920s. They're known for their auctions, but also have a large retail inventory of ancients and everything else. It looks a bit intimidating, I admit, what with the uniformed guard right inside the door to ask why you're there. But if you say you just want to look at the display cases, that's OK.
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