The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 17, Number 43, October 19, 2014, Article 19


At my request Barbara Gregory, Editor of The Numismatist kindly forwarded me the article by Darcie M. Mankell on Nummis Nova member Eric Schena, which appeared in the October 2014 issue of the American Numismatic Association's official publication. -Editor

eric schena Eric Schena wants to keep history alive by telling others about his numismatic discoveries. After all, he explains, "What good is this knowledge if you can’t share it?"

Schena’s primary collecting interests are the coins, paper money, tokens and related ephemera of the Mid-Atlantic region, including medals, souvenir badges, honors and decorations. Schena has lived in the area since 1984 and currently resides in Cross Junction, Virginia. He has dedicated a large portion of his numismatic career to documenting the territory’s rich history.

One of Schena’s collecting focuses is trade tokens, and he says he "discovered early on that a lot of information pertaining to them is vanishing." Much of what is known about some pieces, especially so-called "mavericks" (those with no identifying features to indicate where or by whom they were issued) is passed down through word of mouth. He says this is especially true of cannery ¬tokens and "picker’s checks" from the Eastern Shore. As the people who used these pieces die, their stories are lost, and, once gone, this part of the American experience can never be regained.

Schena’s grandparents introduced him to the hobby. His grandfather Bev gave him a small bag of Wheat cents when he was 4 years old, and from then on, he was hooked. His grandmother, whose nickname was Penny, saved cents and let Schena pick out the ones he wanted. His other set of grandparents, Tony and Nan, "aided and abetted" his explorations of numismatics by giving him a coin bank full of silver dimes, and when his mother went to work as a bank teller, she pulled Eisenhower dollars and other coins from circulation for his collection.

As a teenager, Schena worked part-time at Old Town Coin & Jewelry Exchange in Alexandria, Virginia. He spent many hours researching and attributing Greek and Roman coins at Gene Brandenburg’s store, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Greek and Roman archeology from The College of William & Mary in Virginia.

Brandenburg was a mentor who taught Schena about some of the less-traveled paths in numismatics. Schena says, "It is through him that I developed my lifelong passion for collecting tokens and obsoletes from Virginia, starting with a ‘good for’ token from the Southern Operating Company of Norfolk, a piece still in my collection."

At Gene’s shop, he also met Dave Schenkman, with whom he shares a common love of exonumia (and, as it turns out, muscle cars). He is honored to be laying out the upcoming revision of Schenkman’s 1980 book, Virginia Tokens, and says the work has been "a labor of pure joy."

Since graduating from college, Schena has held various jobs related to information technology. He currently is a contractor for Fannie Mae and also works part-time as a cataloger/consultant for Stack’s Bowers Galleries. His wife and numismatic partner, Heather, attends coin shows with him and pushes him to write more.

A member of the American Numismatic Association, Virginia Numismatic Association, Numismatic Bibliomania Society, Numismatic Literary Guild, and Token and Medal Society, Schena was named to the latter’s board of directors at the 2014 World’s Fair of Money in Chicago. Last year, he published the award-winning Ingle System Scrip of the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Schena encourages those new to numismatics to get involved in their local collecting community. "There are a lot of really fine folks in this hobby," he says. Like him, they always are willing to impart their wisdom to newly minted collectors.

For more information about the American Numismatic Association, see:

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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