I was an “army brat,” and my family settled down in Colorado Springs for the end of my dad’s career. (Some people seem to think that since I live in Colorado Springs, I must have some sort of job at the ANA. Nope, it’s just a happy coincidence that I grew up where the ANA is.)
I started collecting coins when I was six, pushing pennies* into those old blue Whitman folders, giving myself blisters some days. It was still fairly common to get “wheat” cents in your change back then (1970). As I grew older I started picking up on other denominations, and even began to spend money at coin shops. I managed to attend the first ANA midwinter show (1977), which many dealers I talk to today still remember for being in an ice rink–along with the ice–at the Broadmoor. (Little did I know…!) The plywood laid down on the ice was not enough to keep the show from being the coldest one on record.
I went through that time in high school and college of losing interest in the collection, but about three years after getting out of college, someone burglarized me and took the collection. So in 1990–back in Colorado Springs after college and a first job–I resolved to rebuild it, better than it was before, and I’ve been pretty involved ever since.
My goal was to put together a 1900-to-present date and mintmark set; that would certainly be enough to keep one busy, even if one skips gold. Early on in this revival, though, I bid on a 1909 Russian polushka (1/4 kopek) that I saw on a bid board, and that started another collecting interest. The ANA held another midwinter here in 1992 while I was the president of the Colorado Springs Coin Club, then in 1996 the summer show was in Denver. I had never been to a “World’s Fair Of Money” but I went to this one; I even took the coin grading class beforehand. Two things happened at this show that were very important to me; one was deciding I simply couldn’t afford to collect US coins, not in the grades I liked–but I could afford Russian Imperial! The stuff was dirt cheap, imagine a partial 1862 proof set (five coins) for 600 bucks! I completely dropped US coins, other than to buy the annual sets from the mint every year. The other event was looking over the collectors’ exhibits. Now I don’t remember thinking, “Gee, I want to do this someday!” But I might as well have. Whatever the case, clearly both of these events were pivotal in my collecting life.
In 1998 I went to the Portland World’s Fair of Money, with my very first exhibit. It was a miserable little exhibit by my standards today. I am not sure whether to be glad or sad I didn’t own a camera back then. But it did win its class, by default–my competitor did not show up at all due to illness. I got better rapidly, taking second runner up for best of show the next year in Chicago. I eventually accumulated three of those bronze medals (the others in 2002 and 2003), but needed to do something to break out of that streak, preferably in an upward direction. Well, I figured out how to give my exhibits that extra “punch” they needed, and I finally took Best of Show at a spring show (Kansas City, 2005). Then I took three World’s Fair of Money Best in Shows in a row, 2005-2007, all with Russian Imperial coins, a record second only to Thomas Law’s (and even he didn’t manage to do three in a row). I never did get a silver medal; in fact no one has ever won all three places for Best of Show at a World’s Fair of Money.
After 2007 I retired, at least temporarily, and got involved with judging exhibits and the ANA Exhibits and Awards advisory committee. In 2009 I became the chair of the committee, and I still serve in that capacity today.
The National Money Show (spring) Best of Show award for exhibiting now has my name on it. Quite a thing for the kid whose first coin show experience was walking around on plywood at the first of those shows.
I ran into a problem though; the formerly cheap Russian Imperial had skyrocketed in price. It was impossible for me to add to my woefully incomplete collection. I sold most of it. (I hung on to enough coins to recycle my 2007 exhibit–Central States gave it Best of Show–and I still have that polushka.) I then returned to US coins, this time building an 1800-1964 type set (excluding gold!). I also started on ancient coins. I am not really doing much systematically there, other than in the Roman line, working on the “adoptive” emperors.
In the more mundane aspects of life, I am single, a software engineer with a BS in electrical engineering and computer science (one major with a long name), an ME in space operations, and live not far from Colorado Springs in a house that I (mostly) built myself.
*Yes I know they are “cents,” not “pennies” but I’ve noticed most people call the physical coin a penny rather than a “one cent piece.” When giving a price or stating a wage though, people will say “cents.” So I look on “penny” as being a nickname for the actual coin, much as “nickel” serves as the name for our five cent piece. (And no one gripes about that.) Of course most of you already know that “dime” is not a nickname, it’s the legal name of the coin and denomination and is actually stamped on the coin: “One Dime,” not “Ten Cents.”