Christine Karstedt once had a much different life.
Having studied chemistry and physics in college, Karstedt worked as a high school science teacher after graduation.
That was before she moved to Wolfeboro, N.H., 25 years ago.
She didn?t know much about the coin hobby, but that didn?t stop her from getting a job with one of the biggest numismatic firms in the country, a company that would morph into American Numismatic Rarities.
?I was made aware of this lucrative business in town,? said Karstedt. ?I joined and learned the business from the ground up.?
She started out assisting with auctions for Bowers and Merena. As part of the auction team, Karstedt handled a number of chores. ?In the early days, I opened the bid sheets, manually entered bids into big notebooks, took phone bids from clients, kept records of sales, and pulled lots at lot pickup,? said Karstedt.
It was an education for the former educator, but she wasn?t done learning.
?When my duties started to focus on marketing, I really started to learn about coins.?
Her teacher? None other than Q. David Bowers, the numismatic director for ANR and a noted expert in the field who?s authored a number of books on rare coins.
?I personally helped Dave generate the advertising copy and assisted him while he dictated his catalog descriptions. You can?t help but to absorb his enthusiasm and knowledge when working side by side with him.?
Over the years, Karstedt has been involved in a number of major numismatic events. She did a lot of the marketing and public relations groundwork for sales of the Eliasberg Collection, the Bass Collection and the Norweb Collection of Canadian coins.
Karstedt was also heavily involved in promoting the the $100 million treasure of the S.S. Central America, appeared on television during the publicity campaign for the S.S. Brother Jonathan sale and was instrumental in the world record sale of the Childs? 1804 dollar.
?Those are big moments that I?ll remember forever,? said Karstedt. ?The families were wonderful to work for and they were extraordinarily pleased with the results. On the retail side, you just can?t imagine the excitement of handling gold ingots that have been recovered from the bottom of the ocean, one of them weighing 80 pounds.?
Though her appreciation for numismatics has grown over the years, her favorite part of the job has always been helping customers.
?I love working with people,? said Karstedt. ?I guess that?s a natural carryover from teaching high school.?
That commitment helped her gain the position of president with ANR.
One of the most satisfying aspects to her career at ANR has been the family connection at ANR. John Babalis, her father, was with the company until he passed away in 2003.
Melissa, her daughter, and Andrew, Dave?s son, both work with clients in ANR?s direct sales gallery selling to clients, managing the company?s coin inventory and supervising its monthly acquisition program.
The excitement of the auction floor is one of Karstedt?s favorite parts of the job. But it?s working for people that excites her the most.
?I always want to do what?s best for the client because that?s what is usually best for ANR. We want to showcase their collections in the way that pays tribute to their collecting interest and we want them to be proud of the final catalog. Of course, it never hurts that we exceed their financial expectations, as well.?
Today, Chris Karstedt may be the only woman in the trade who is a licensed auctioneer, who has sold coins in all ranges including million-dollar-plus rarities, who is a member of the Professional Numismatists Guild and who in any given year is apt to have held sales across the United States, from Beverly Hills to New York City.