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Accidental careers?

There is career opportunity in numismatics.

The thought occurred to me this week as several press releases have come my way announcing changes to businesses.

But this opportunity often is not the conventional kind where you wait until a few months before high school or college graduation and walk in the door of some numismatic firm with resume in hand and request a job.

This is opportunity that sort of just sneaks up on you, like it did with me, and then you simply can’t imagine not working in numismatics.

Longtime Liberty Coin Service owner Patrick A. Heller has sold his business to Tom Coulson.

It sounds pretty conventional to note that Coulson worked for the firm for 29 years, eventually becoming senior manager and senior numismatist.

But what illustrates the special character of numismatic business opportunities was this statement by Coulson:

“When I started doing casual tasks at Liberty in 1983 while I was still in junior high school, it never occurred to me that this would become my career. I left in 1996 to become a certified public accountant, but found that I really enjoyed serving collector and precious metals customers even more. So, I came back to Liberty three years later.”

You see?

His career path was set when he was a kid.

He didn’t know it.

Likely his parents didn’t either.

They probably worried that he was spending too much time on his “hobby.”

I did the much the same thing.

The first article that I ever wrote was published when I was 15.

I thought it was neat.

I didn’t realize until later that it was a first step on a career path.

I just loved doing it.

It was my “hobby” that my relatives thought was a phase. Perhaps my parents did too, but they never told me that.

Another press release comes from Archives International Auctions.

Someone I worked with here for 20 years has moved on to greater opportunity.

Former Standard Catalog of World Coins editor George Cuhaj joined the AIA as vice president of cataloging and consignor relations.

I first met George in the early 1980s, a good 10 years before he came to work here at Krause.

He was another individual who was bitten by the numismatic bug as a kid.

He also has never looked back.

I don’t know if he knew he was embarking on a career path when he took up collecting, but I do know that he became an accomplished exhibitor at shows.

He was a member of the late American Numismatic Association President Steve Taylor’s informal hot fudge sundae exhibitor group, which if I remember correctly meant that the winner of the highest exhibit award had to buy the sundaes for everybody else.

I also know that exhibitors are doing what they do for the love of numismatics and not as some pre-planned career development project.

You cannot teach anyone to love numismatics. They just do.

When they realize it, they then spend as much time with it as they can – and before they know it, they have created a career opportunity for themselves.

Dealer and candidate for the ANA presidency, Jeff Garrett, has a similar background.

If as is likely he becomes president, I will know that someone who came up the way I did, Tom did and George did will be in charge for two years. That pleases me. I think it is a good thing.

I wish them all continuing success on the career paths that just sort of found them before they realized it.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."