When the three-day Long Beach Coin, Stamp and Collectibles Expo opens Feb. 7, there will be at least one hobbyist present who understands the power of the Lincoln cent at attracting new hobbyists.
He is Ronald J. Gillio, expo general chairman, who might not be where he is today were it not for his encounter with the nation’s lowest denomination.
In fact, during the convention Gillio marks 50 years in the hobby because of the Lincoln cent.
“It all started with just one new penny in my hands 50 years ago in February 1959. What will the future mean to other collectors with this year’s four new penny designs?” he asked.
“It was early 1959 when I saw my first Lincoln Memorial cent, the first year they were made, and I was curious about it. Ever since then numismatics has been a vital and enjoyable part of my life,” said Gillio.
“My first collections – like everyone else – were mostly pennies and nickels. Living in Southern California, when I’d go to my neighborhood banks in Southern California to get rolls of coins, I’d frequently find San Francisco mintmarks; coins that were scarce in other parts of the country.”
Gillio said his mother and father, Sandy and Angie Gillio, were very supportive of his hobby, and were with him to celebrate the opening day of his first store on State Street in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1974.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Perhaps a future expo chairman will get started through the special exhibits planned for the February event.
Sunnywood’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” set of toned Morgan silver dollars will be on display. The 97-coin set will be located at the Professional Coin Grading Service booth.
Assembled by attorney Doug Kurz, the collection includes an 1881-S Morgan dollar graded PCGS MS-68; an 1882-S graded PCGS MS-67 from the collection of former National Football League linebacker Gregg “Ironman” Bingham; and the Louis E. Eliasberg Sr. specimen 1893-S graded PCGS MS-68.
Young Numismatists’ activities, including a children’s treasure hunt, will be held on Saturday, Feb. 7.
A free gold coin door prize will be awarded each day to a lucky, registered visitor.
A half dozen educational seminars about collectibles and hobby club meetings will be conducted during the show, and Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, Texas will hold a public sale of U.S. and world coins and paper money.
The public hours are Thursday and Friday, Feb. 5-6, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Saturday, Feb. 7, from 10 a.m. to 5 pm. (The show is closed on Sunday.) A complete schedule is online at www.LongBeachShow.com.
General admission is $6 (good for all three days); $4 for members of any coin or stamp club who displays a valid membership card; and $3 for seniors 65 and older. Admission is free for children ages seven and younger. Discount admission coupons are available online at www.LongBeachShow.com.