Friday, March 20, 2015

A Coin Auction

I'm a far cry from a numismatist, but when Papa mentioned checking out a coin auction in Marshalltown, Iowa this winter, I was fair game.  There was a wide selection of coins, and there also were a few old paper bills.  The most expensive coin we saw went for $3050.  The trays of Kennedy half dollars sold for their value in silver.
The majority of the people at the auction were older men.  But there were a few women, younger men, and children, and some husband/wife, father/son duos.  Most tried to come early enough to find a place at one of the tables.  They were armed with briefcases, calculators, and small magnifying glasses.  They also carried lists of all items to be sold, with notes written beside coins of interest to mark intended bidding prices.

Unlike church auctions, where bidding is fun, unlike household auctions where bidding is sometimes impulsive, and unlike machine/equipment auctions where the bidders are less organized, this was very organized, serious business.

An outsider like myself wouldn't have a chance at getting a good deal with zero research and attendance based only on a Saturday morning whim.  If I ever take up coin collecting, I'll know to be prepared.
The Lewis and Clark commemorative (lot 84) in the upper right hand corner sold for $525.  The old buffalo $10 bill sold for $225.  It was interesting to see a variety of designs.  Money has changed over the years.  I always enjoy listening to the older people I know discuss how money used to be worth a lot more.

Above is a video of a coin being auctioned.
Have you ever collected coins?
What are the lowest grocery, gas, and fast food prices you can remember?

67 comments:

  1. I love to see the old money- especially pre-1900, but I would not know one grade from the other and would probably fail miserably at trying to buy something at an auction. I'm way too impulsive!

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    1. I generally try to do my impulsive shopping at the thrift store. At an auction like this a person could pay dearly!

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  2. I love looking at the wide variety of designs on the money through the years and hearing the rhythmic speech of the auctioneer! I was just thinking that it's funny how when I watch a movie that takes place in the 1800s and someone buys something for, let's say 7 cents, I picture modern money. Not the buffalo nickles and Indian head pennies that they would have used.

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    1. Good observation. I think I saw a goof in some tv show where modern American money was exchanged where I would think it should have been either foreign or older money...but I can't remember when or where.

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  3. Old coins are really quite interesting. I had quite few from my mom that I gave to my son.
    We have a friend that has been collecting since he was 5 years old- he is now in his 70's. He has some that are worth a small fortune -those books that are a full "collection". He is a fount of knowledge about them.
    Glad you had fun and found it interesting. xo Diana

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    1. He must have quite the collection...some of the books sold in the auction as well. The full ones were pretty valuable!

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  4. i have a few coins, just for my own fun. i have some eisenhowers and kennedys but am not the least serious in collecting. those folks are the real deal. :)

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  5. We have some very old coins, but just a few. I find them pretty interesting. I also enjoy antique Native American jewelry that has coins in it.

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    1. I don't believe I've seen much Native American jewelry except in the movies.

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  6. It is very interesting auction. At Poland old coins from Europe are very expensive , too.

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    1. I imagine--European coins must go back a lot further. There were some German (I think) bank notes at this auction, but most everything was American.

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  7. Wow! This is awesome. I have some coins that belonged to my great grandfather, but I am not a collector at all. ;-) I once went through my husband's penny collection, but didn't find a lot of interesting ones.

    So fun!!

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    1. Neat that you have some of your great grandfather's coins!

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  8. I have a few old coins but nothing of much value. I just find them interesting. I think this auction would be almost overwhelming with all those people who are so educated in it.
    You asked about remembering lower prices. When I got my license, gas was under a dollar a gallon. I remember a few years later when they had to change out all the gas pumps so the prices could go over $1. When I was first married, in 1981 my grocery budget was $50 a week. Times have changed!

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    1. Wow! Those prices would be nice! Now a person can easily spend $50 just filling 1 or 2 grocery bags (especially if they shop in the meat aisle)!

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  9. Very interesting! An old family friend was an avid coin collector, he gave each of our children a valuable coin. It's amazing what some of those can be worth!

    I would be at a total loss and out of my element if I wanted to buy some at an auction.

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    1. I think most everyone could benefit by going to a first auction just to watch before attempting to buy. What a wonderful gift for your children!

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  10. We do collect different coins. The beans mostly get them from relatives and their grandparents. So we have become interested in the history of them. This auction is so NEAT! I like the idea of being able to see these pieces of the past! Very interesting! A wonderful weekend to you! Nicole xo

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    1. Learning the history of each coin would be very interesting.

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  11. I've collected coins before! When I was younger I had this map of the United States and on each state had a quarter holder, and there you would have to insert a quarter from each state. It was a fun thing. ^.^ The lowest gas price we had here was a dollar, and same with the fast food prices! Things have gotten expensive since then.

    xoxo Morning

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    1. For a while I collected state quarters as well, but didn't get very far. I think one of my sisters has them all though.

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  12. Interesting! I have had old coins that I have not treasured or valued or kept, Bethany, but I can understand how one might enjoy collecting them. I think I can remember gas selling for 15 cents a gallon....is that possible??? :-)

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    1. It's hard to imagine gas being that inexpensive, but I'm sure it was!

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  13. Interesting way to spend an afternoon... Last time the US minted $2 dollar bills I bought a few, that was back in the mid "70s", I still have them somewhere. Another 50 years and they might actually be worth something!

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    1. That's how we feel about our old stamps!

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  14. Hum, wonder if I have any old coins hidden somewhere here? LOL I did collect the state quarters for awhile; not sure if I ever found all 50 though and I'll be cashing them in soon. I recall gas being somewhere around 27 cents a gallon, maybe 24 cents--maybe. Wish they were still that low:)
    Blessings, Aimee

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  15. those old coins are really neat, Bethany. I have a couple old coins but lordy, I don't know where they are!! Need to find them, I guess.

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    1. If you find any of the 1904 Lewis and Clark commemoratives, be sure to chip me in for reminding you to look for them. ;)

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  16. When I was a kid I'd find lots of old coins in my change. Today coins must not stay in circulation for very long. Tom The Backroads Traveller

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    1. I haven't noticed many of the old ones around either--could be I'm not looking hard enough, but it does seem most I get are pretty new.

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  17. Hi Bethany, Another interesting post, especially for a collector like myself. I do not collect coins but I do think it could be fascinating. I wonder if there is anything like this for auctioning old memorabilia like I collect. I have not heard of any. There are plenty of “paper shows” or “postcard shows” where dealers gather, have a table, and display items for sale. Your father seems to be into these events and perhaps you could ask him for me if he has ever heard of an auction for old paper items like railroad brochures, timetables, calendars, etc. In your post you mentioned and have a photo of the old buffalo paper money. I did not know such existed! Would love to have an old buffalo bill. And this is sort of timely as well … did you happen to read or see news that the U S Treasury is considering issuing paper money with the image of a woman on the bill? All current U S paper money has images of men. Rightfully, in my opinion, it is time to get a woman on there! :-) The question is who will it be! Now, lastly, thank you for encouraging me to participate in Anni’s challenge. I did post today and link up with her meme. I hope you will take a look and let me know what you think. Clearly, I did not do as good a job as you with the “B”! Have a fine weekend! John

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    1. I don't believe Papa has ever mentioned going to an auction for memorabilia. He has mentioned visiting the fascinating flea markets (I think that's what they're called) in Philadelphia,which had all sorts of interesting old items. What impressed him most was a hymnal from the Civil War era. He didn't recognize any of the songs! Hymnals have changed a lot; but, he is (and I am) glad the Bible never changes. I think it was at the Philadelphia flea markets that he also bought a 10 volume set of Messages and Papers of the Presidents published in 1897 (but I could be mistaken).

      I hadn't heard about the move to feature a woman on a bill. Interesting news! As you mentioned, deciding which woman would be a real challenge. All the people featured on bills are Presidents, except for Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Treasurer. There has never been a woman U.S. president, and none of the first cabinet heads were women, so agreeing on which woman is prestigious enough politically/historically to be ranked with Washington, Lincoln, Jackson, etc. would be very difficult.

      You did a great job on the J! Have an awesome upcoming weekend!

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  18. Wonderful to see these old coins, Bethany.
    A very good weekend.
    Best regards, Irma

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    1. Have a great upcoming weekend as well!

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  19. Hi Bethany,
    These are very impressive coins, many of which I have never seen before.
    The lowest gas price that I can remember was around 78 cents.
    I collected some coins when I was a young boy, but they were mostly Canadian and some from Hong Kong.
    Have a Beautiful Day!
    Peace :)

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    1. 78 cents would be a bargain! We were excited to see gas prices get below $2 recently, but they went back up again. It's sort of tricky--gas, for example, goes up 10 cents, and when it comes back down 4 cents people are happy. :)

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  20. Bethany, another very interesting post!
    My husband has a few old coins.

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  21. Hello! Found you through Hank's blog. My husband also collects coins, and buffalo nickels are his fave. Nothing worth $3000, though! Wow!

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Christine! Hank's blog is one of my favorites; he always has an interesting perspective.

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  22. This is the most unique post I've read all day. Actually, all week! I am in awe of the auctioneer (not sure if that's the right term) and the way he calls out those numbers. So interesting. And entertaining. What a fun way to spend the day with your father.

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    1. Listening to different auctioneers' styles is always fun!

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  23. My hubby is a coin collector and I hope he finds a $3000. coin. woo hoo....:)

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  24. How fascinating... I have a couple of old coins, but I don't think they're worth any money either. Oh well... :)

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  25. you are such an interesting girl, so much depth you have!!! my dad was always a coin/money collector and i followed in his footsteps. but it's a dying art and i have allowed it to slip away. my brother gets my dads coin collection when my mom passes and he will just sell it. i would love to have it, but it was his choice to leave it to my brother!!!!

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    1. Ah, that's too bad! It's good to keep things like that in the family, but oh well. Glad you followed in your dad's footsteps to keep up the hobby.

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  26. Over 3k for a coin?? Wow! My dad, grandpa, and uncles have just a handful of 'special' coins in those sorts of protective sleeves that I've seen over the years, but I've never known any serious coin collectors. These days, my dad likes to keep a little collection of a coin or two from all the different countries he's visited over the years--they're not valuable at all, but I do find the way different countries design their money to be fascinating! I think Hong Kong's coins are the prettiest ones I've seen yet.

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    1. Sounds like a great idea for souvenirs!

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  27. Nice post Bethany. I liked the video too. I have a small coin collection, but have no idea if any of them are worth anything. The lowest price I can remember buying gas for was when I was a teenager and it was 28 cents/gallon!

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  28. Great post, Bethany. I love seeing old money!

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    1. Thanks Linda! I have to admit, I enjoy seeing money of just about any/every type!

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  29. Hello Bethany!:) I'm on a blogging break but returning your visit this morning, and found another interesting post. My husband has been a keen coin collecter for many years, and it really is a fascinating hobby. On our 50th wedding annirversary some years ago, he had a few sovereigns made into jewellery for me, and I love wearing them. I see there is one coin in a gold surround in your first photo. I think they look nice this way on display, and as long as they are not punchured will not loose their value.

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    1. Sounds like a very nice anniversary gift idea!

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  30. Handsome church, the Immaculate Conception Church. I'm impressed that it was open.

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  31. not a coin collector but I bet it was an interesting auction to attend.

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  32. One of the joys (or challenges!) of being in a different country is dealing with the currency - nice to see some old ones here. All of our bank notes here are made of think plastic - which tends to shock visitors from the US.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. I would never have guessed! Plastic currency would shock me! Interesting to learn!

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  33. Looks like a fascinating event! We have picked up a few interesting coins over the years but I never saw a coin auction!

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    1. I don't know if auctions are as prevalent in other parts of the country as they are here in Iowa. I've shown a church auction, an equipment auction, and now a coin auction here on my blog, but just the other day I was at an auction where Iowans were auctioning off children...well, almost. Some of the FFA members (teenagers) were auctioning themselves off for labor to raise money for a trip. :) Thanks for visiting!

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  34. I am extremely impressed along with your writing abilities, Thanks for this great share.

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