From the Numismatic News 60th Anniversary Special Issue – By Robert Pedolsky • Charlotte, N.C.
In 1959, my Great Aunt Sophie gave me an old penny. You couldn’t really see the design or read the date, but I knew that it wasn’t a Lincoln cent.
My friend Craig Watanabe (who now owns his own coin company) knew something about coins so I showed it to him. Craig took me to Jim’s Hobby Shop, which was all coins and stamps. I gave the coin to Jim, who told me to come back in a day or so. He would soak the coin and let the buildup dissolve.
Upon return, Jim showed me the coin. It was an 1888 Indian Head cent. I was hooked. After that, it was at least two days a week at Jim’s, looking, learning and having a blast. Jim had two work areas, one for stamps, where he usually was, and one for coins. He would let us sit behind the coin counter and take out and look at any coin we wanted. When we were finished (usually when he was closing), we would put everything away and show him what we wanted to purchase.
Over time, it was amazing what we had learned: history, geography, math and the value of money (Do I buy that ice cream or save up for that coin that I want?). I started to work a paper route (so maybe I could get that ice cream!).
Trust, responsibility, respect – the trust that Jim showed to young kids, to let us look through his inventory unsupervised; the responsibility to put it all back the way it was so he could find things; and the respect that he showed us as customers, not just kids.
I have collected all my life. There were some lulls – cars, girls, marriage, divorce, etc. But coins were always there. My nephew, Mitch Sanders, started collecting at a young age. Now he writes a monthly column for The Numismatist and was the former chairperson for the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. For the past 10 years, I have been the Young Numismatist (YN) coordinator for the Charlotte Coin Club. One of the YNs just started his own coin business while he is still in college.
I have my own business that has nothing to do with coins. But, because I was listed on the Charlotte Coin Club website, I got a call from one of the local coin dealers who was looking for someone to work part-time. Well, five years later, I work full time with the coin dealer and I still have my small business.
Indian Head cents are still my passion. I have been building a set of MS-63 or -64 RB Indians for the past few years and I am almost done. With all I have learned about life, the people that I have helped get started in coins, the people who have helped me, now a career in coins, and all the coins in my collection, that 1888 Indian Head cent hasn’t done bad. And it is still my favorite coin!