By Curt Wood
A few old-timers can tell you something of what it was like to be a 10-year-old Young Numismatist in 1953, and I’m one of them. But I think it likely that I’m quite literally the only such ancient YN who can actually show you a photograph of what it was like to be a budding numismatist on Aug. 14, 1953. Take a look at the photo and I will give it a try.
I stand proudly in the driveway of my home in the 8100 block of a street in Upland, Calif., called Avenida Vejar. About five minutes before, I had received an 1898 Barber dime in change at a nearby mom-and-pop grocery store. It was a Philadelphia Mint dime grading G-4.
My mother decided to preserve the happiness she saw on my face, so she asked me to grab my camera from the bedroom so she could take a picture. My favorite pastimes then were Little League baseball, photography and numismatics. I held the 1898 dime up for the camera. The camera moved a bit too much as the shutter was snapped, causing the image to hit the film with a slight blur. Yet a close look at the photo shows an unmistakably happy kid displaying the latest find for his collection begun only about a year earlier.
Minutes after the photo was taken, I was in my room adding the dime to my collection. As I look the coin over, I wonder if it was once spent by Mark Twain. Or perhaps Wilber Wright flipped this dime at Kitty Hawk in 1903 to see whether it would be him or his brother Orville who would pilot the first motor-driven airplane off the ground. Wow.
So I certainly appreciated the discovery of the 1898 dime. But I could not then appreciate the fact that, incredibly enough, all the dimes I was then receiving in change were special and all the quarters and halves, and yes, even the dollar coins called Morgan and Peace. While examining silver dollars at a bank in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1958, I found an 1879-S Morgan and a 1934-S Peace dollar. But all in all, of those silver coins I got in change and in bank rolls in the 1950s and up to the mid 1960s were special because they were 90 percent silver. Things like that aren’t always obvious at the time, but friend, if you’re the owner of a vintage time machine, I’d like to borrow it for a few minutes. Don’t worry – I’ll fill the tank and check the oil.
Curt Wood is a hobbyist from Van Nuys, Calif.
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