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We've lost a giant in the coin collecting field

Leon Hendrickson died Sunday.

He was 90 years old.

But his attitude toward coin collecting was always one of youthful enthusiasm.

In life some people are positive. Others are not.

Leon was positive on steroids.

I guess that is what you have to be to found a successful coin and bullion business like SilverTowne of Winchester, Ind.

To see him behind the table at a coin show was to see a person who could not think of a better place to be.

When I talked to him, he made it seem like there was no person he would rather spend time with.

As editor of Numismatic News, I spoke to him many times over the years at shows around the country.

When I asked him how business was going, he always was upbeat about the experience.

He was a booster.

Even when shows were not obviously successful, he would think of something that indicated it really was successful.

In this case, successful was defined as it having been a worthwhile experience.

I liked that. My readers did too.

Only once since my arrival as a journalist in the field in 1978 did I catch him thinking less than upbeat thoughts.

That was near the end of the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in 2005 in San Francisco.

But even then, by the end of the conversation, he had turned the tone of his remarks around.

He was that professional.

He was that committed to the well being of ANA specifically and the numismatic field generally.

The last time I saw him was in 2011 when he was behind the SilverTowne table at the Central States Numismatic Society convention in Rosemont, Ill.

That was the show at which silver bullion peaked at $48 an ounce.

Leon was in the bullion business as well as the collector coin business.

I have followed the bullion business for half a century.

I bought my first bullion, a Maria Theresa thaler, for $1.95 when I was a kid.

It was my first silver investment.

In reading Leon’s full obituary, you see he had a well-rounded life.

You can’t help but wonder where he found the time to serve the many organizations he was a part of.

He was president of the Professional Numismatists Guild and the Central States Numismatic Society.

I remember listening to his educational presentations at Central States conventions.

He was knowledgeable. He shared what he knew generously.

I learned a thing or two from Leon.

I will bet most regular convention attendees who knew him can probably say the same thing.

He will be missed.

May he rest in peace.

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

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