They all wanted money

By Joanna Farley

Amongst the small change in a university student’s pocket just might be a coin worth four years of tuition and an old $1 bill in a childhood piggy bank might be worth a small fortune.

On Sun., Dec. 2, collectors, evaluators and those with an eye to calculate their riches gathered at the Nickle Arts Museum for the fourth annual Coin Road Show.

"I’m delighted we got as many people as we have," said Geraldine Chimirri-Russell, numismatics curator at the museum. "There are more people than last year, and they’re from a very broad spectrum of the community. People seem to be pretty pleased with what is going on."

At the event, visitors cleaned up old Roman coins to determine their value, learned how original coin presses worked and took part in a silent auction on numismatic items.

The main event of the show was examining public finds. From children to seniors, people streamed in to discover what their currency was really worth.

Stan Wright of Diverse Equities Inc., who was on hand to evaluate Canadian coins, showed envious crowds an inconspicuous dime worth a small fortune. The regular 1969 dime has a wealthy twin with larger and more angular writing worth up to $25,000.

Andrew McKaig, a professional buyer and seller, mentioned a friend who had saved a one-dollar bill from 1973 that was later valued at $4,500. However, McKaig cautioned would-be traders against breaking into the piggybank with a hammer.

"You don’t have a very big chance of finding something," he said. "People have found error notes and mismatched serial number notes and replacement notes that have some value, two to three hundred dollars, but it’s mostly pocket change that’s been used, and it’s rare to find."

Chimirri-Russell said that the event was a success, and that she hopes to see an even better attendance at next year’s show.

"Basically it will be the same old same old, because there’s a different audience every time," she explained. "If people find things interesting and had a good experience, they’ll come again and that’s a nice thing."