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Coin collection grows, one country at a time

I call it the family coin collection.

It was started 100 years ago by my grandfather who collected Indian Head and Lincoln cents. As a young girl I spent many rainy afternoons searching through his tins of coins and filling blue and green coin folders.

Later, I started saving half dollars. There was something majestic about the big coins. And of course I saved the shiniest ones; a few others were spent on baubles.

A few years back I started buying world coins with images of bears on them. Why? I don’t know. My husband likes bears and I thought they’d be great reminders of the various coin shows I’ve attended. And maybe grandkids would enjoy them some day.

Now, the collection grows as we travel around the world. I have rubles from the old Soviet Union and euros from London. For now, it’s just circulating coinage that finds its way into the collection, but with each added coin comes an added degree of interest as to what else we may want to add from that country.

My youngest son has an affinity for visiting Ecuador. He’s visited three times in the past three years as part of a group of college students involved in a program called “Building Bridges to Bunchee.” Although U.S. coins and currency are used in Ecuador, he managed to bring back a few centavos. I found a 50-centavo in my car’s cup holder yesterday and thinking it was a half dollar, I grabbed it. But the face did not look familiar. I do not know Eloy Alfaro, although now I’m curious. At least I know who was driving my car recently.

Sitting on my desk is a Canadian cent that hasn’t yet made it into the collection. A friend gave it to me a week ago in recognition of Canada’s decision to stop producing the cent. I understand Canada’s reasons for the decision, but I will miss the chance encounter with them in change.

Are we foolish to collect common coinage from various countries? Maybe. Maybe not. We don’t do it in hopes of making money on the coins someday. For now, they serve as a physical reminder of places and people visited. They tell our stories. And for me, that’s far better than a souvenir post card or a snow globe.