The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 21, May 21, 2006, Article 13


Continuing his series of reminiscences about his days working
at the Gimbel's department store coin shop, Barry Jablon writes:
"One of the purchases I made which was not as amazing as the
1793 Liberty Cap cent or the 1895 proof silver dollar in terms
of value, but was huge in terms of quantity took place in the
same time period as the others, that being between 1957 and 1962.

We had a policy at Gimbel's Coin Dept. that we wouldn't go out
of the store to make purchases or even quote prices. I imagine
it had something to do with insurance. One day, I took a call
in the department from an elderly gentleman who told me he was
a retired Marine Corps Master Sergeant. He said that he lived
alone in an apartment in a not-so-nice section of Philadelphia,
and he had read that we purchased coins. He needed money and had
some coins to sell. I checked it out with Mr. Kraus and he was
not in favor of me going to the man's apartment. However, after
Mr. Kraus spoke to him on the phone he said he was leaving it up
to me. I was either sixteen or seventeen at the time and, from
what I can remember, pretty fearless.

Anyway, the gentleman lived in a three room apartment, decorated
with all of the souvenirs he had collected in his travels around
the world with the Marines. He wanted to know if I would buy any
of these from him but, since I knew nothing of their value, I
declined. He then took out several paper bags of foreign coins.

My smile quickly faded when I saw hundreds of common German,
Italian, Japanese and other foreign coins fall on to the card
table we were sitting at. These were the foreign coins that Dick
Johnson referred to which he saw Ernie Kraus working with on his
visit to Coins and Currency, Inc. We sold them for .25 each from
a large box in the case at Gimbels.

The old Marine read my face well. "Not too much there of value
is there son?" he asked. I told him there was not and was about
to push myself away from the table and drive home with nothing
to show for my time when the old guy told me to wait a minute
and went in to the other room. He came back with two large cloth
bags bulging with coins. "How about these?" he asked. "They're
not as nice as the foreign coins I've collected but they are
older. Maybe they're worth something."

He then dumped onto the table over two hundred flying eagle cents.
They were in anywhere from V.F. to A.U. condition and even in the
old days of the 1950's, would command a nice premium. The old man
told me that his father and grandfather had collected these coins
and he didn't think they were worth too much because, unlike his
foreign coins, aside from two different dates, they were all the
same. I was thrilled that I would be able to bring the old man
some decent money when I came back to pick up the coins.

It was as were pushing the coins back into their bags that I
decided to ask the magic question. "All of these coins are 1857
and 1858. You wouldn't happen to have any with an 1856 on it?
He came back about five minutes later carrying a small yellow pay
envelope. He then rolled onto the card table one 1856 flying eagle
cent in what we used to call "mishandled proof" condition. When I
told the old Marine that I would bring him a check for $1,200.00
the next day, he started to cry. "Are you sure you won't get into
any trouble paying out that much money son?" the old man inquired.

When I assured the old guy they everything would be fine, he
hugged me and then hugged me again when I returned the next day
to pick up the coins and give him his money. Of course, Ernie Kraus
and the Friedberg's were very happy, but I really felt good about
what I had been able to do for the old marine."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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