After an interesting and successful 39-year career
including 27 years as a Superintendent of Schools, I have retired from
the profession that I so dearly loved. I will now pursue my life-long
interests in coins, tokens, medals, numismatic literature, and related
ephemera. My base of operations will be in the beautiful mid-coast area
of the Great State of Maine.
collecting endeavors date back over 50 years. Like many collectors of
my generation, early forays into Lincoln cents, Jefferson nickels and
Roosevelt dimes were the starting point. My maternal grandfather and
father were dedicated collectors of United States coins in all metals.
Most of their coins came for circulation or from friendly bankers and
business associates who understood the spirit, determination and
intellect of coin collectors.
Gifts of odd-denomination or favored coins were
always well-received on
my birthday, at holidays, or as payment for snow shoveling, grass
mowing, or the elimination of garden-raiding critters. I still have and
occasionally wear a coin ring that displays a 1911 Indian Head quarter
eagle. Can you imagine how thrilled I was to receive such a gift as a
After WWII, my father managed the operation of the
Zenith Lanes on
Kilbouren Avenue in Milwaukee, WI. The Dirnbauer family businesses in
the 1940’s and 1950’s were quite diversified. The Zenith was a “Laverne
and Shirley” type of bowling alley with eight lanes in the basement of
a building with a pizza parlor just above on the street level. This bit
of family history is pertinent due to the fact that the local coin
collectors regularly gathered in the bar at the Zenith to discuss
coins, share stories, play table shuffleboard and cup dice and drink
Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia and the advertising of B. Max Mehl were the
fuel of conversation. C.V. McDermott was a regular at the Zenith and
would freely show his 1913 Liberty Head nickel. I was five or six years
old at the time and more interested in bowling duck pins than looking
at silly old coins. However, I have been reminded on a few occasions
that Mr. McDermott put me on his knee and put that rare coin in my
small hand and admonished me to remember it. I was thrilled to see that
coin and its four siblings at the Baltimore ANA in 2003.
have a particularly fond memory of the Thanksgiving holiday in 1967. I
was 20 years old and my father planned a four day project for us to
transfer his entire collection into new Whitman bookshelf coin albums.
There were more than 30 albums to be filled over that wonderful weekend
as well as attending the Michigan State Numismatic Association’s annual
coin show in Dearborn. We filled the albums and purchased the final
Peace dollar (1928) to complete that collection. The fun we had … the
reminiscing … the jokes. It was a memorable four days. I can actually
trace my adult collecting interests and determination to that very time.
completed my undergraduate degree at Michigan State University and
pursued two graduate degrees at The University of Michigan, I
completed, more or less, some of the collections my father started.
About this same time, I had a modest collection of
Double Eagles. Earl
Schill, an old-time Detroit coin dealer of note, was my main source of
coins. He taught me to appreciate high quality and gave pointers on
grading. When I eventually commented on how the double eagles were
stressing my coin budget, he pointed me toward early date large cents
and membership in Early American Coppers, Inc. My growing love of coins
and history took another leap forward. When Steve Ivy auctioned my gold
coins in the early 1980’s I was stunned at the prices realized for what
he termed “wonder coins.” Earl Schill certainly knew what he was taking
about and I was a good student.
grew older and wiser, my collecting interests gravitated toward
pre-federal colonial coins and half cents and large cents. I assembled
meaningful variety collections of these fascinating pieces of history.
“History in your hands” is a powerful image for all thoughtful people
both young and old.
thing I always appreciated as my numismatic appetites were developing
was the guidance provided by the luminaries of this wonderful hobby.
The pearls of wisdom offered to me over the years are still important:
“look for good value at a fair price”…”educate yourself and others both
young and old” … “coins well-bought, studied and enjoyed will yield
of the very best pieces of advice given to me by many of the famous
numismatic personalities was first uttered by Aaron Feldman: BUY THE
BOOK BEFORE THE COIN. This adage means study and learn before you spend
your hard-earned money. Such action will lead to greater enjoyment of
your coins and greater success when you decide to reap the financial
rewards of your many years of collecting.
acquisition of numismatic literature is an important adjunct to the
overall study of coins, medals, tokens and other forms of currency.
American numismatic literature is broadly defined as reference books,
auction catalogs from 1850-present, general interest periodicals,
booklets, advertising pamphlets and historic documents. Even
moderately-serious coin collectors have built a reference library and
may be surprised to learn of its value.
encourage you to look at the numismatic literature section of this web
site. A world of fascination and information awaits you.
could go on and on about the DNA of one of the very best hobbies, but I
will close for now with a few final points. Coin and book collecting
should always be fun. It leads to a fresh and personal view of history.
It makes history real. It is a way to build wealth. I have some
interesting material that you may want to include in your growing
collections. Please consider a small trial order to see if we are
compatible. It could be the beginning of a worthwhile friendship and