Here's a profile of author Ed Fuhrman, taken from the preface to the latest volume in his Half Cent Handbook series. See the article elsewhere in this issue about his Ultimate Grading Guide for Half Cents, and how to order his books.
I started collecting coins at a very early age. When I was only five years old, I found a box of old coins that my grandfather used to keep on his desk. It was filled with a mixture of old foreign and U.S. coins. In the box I found an 1895 Indian Head Cent. For some reason, this coin caught my eye, and I asked my grandfather if I could keep it. He laughed and said that I could keep the whole box! So that night I took the box of coins home with me. I spilled them all out on the table, but the only one that interested me was that old copper Indian Cent. I asked my father if I could get a book on coins so I could learn more about this cool-looking copper coin. This is what started my lifelong passion (some might say obsession) for coin collecting.
At the age of ten, I discovered my love of music and began studying the guitar. I started my own business teaching guitar at age fifteen while I was still in high school. When I was eighteen, I joined a heavy metal group called Hades. The band got signed to a record label and we did a number of albums. We were also able to do some touring of America and Europe. Yet even during the years with the band, I never lost interest in coin collecting. In fact, sometimes when we were on tour, if I saw a local coin shop near any venues where we were performing, I'd try to stop in to see if they had anything of interest.
Up until this point I had been focusing on Indian Cents and Lincoln Cents. In 1995, I found myself losing interest in these coins, so my favorite local coin dealer suggested I try a new series to collect. Half Cents! I knew nothing about them, but the coin dealer had a friend who was an avid collector, so he set up a meeting. A few days later I got a private lesson on Half Cents. I was fascinated! This was exactly what I was looking for. Something new, exciting, and challenging. And so my journey into the wonderful world of Half Cent collecting began….
After about four years of collecting, a chance meeting after buying a coin at a coin show in Baltimore, Maryland, changed the course of my collecting forever. I met a gentleman named Bob Yuell. Bob was an advanced collector of U.S. Half Cents and a member of Early American Coppers (EAC). EAC is a coin club specializing in early U.S. copper coinage – primarily Half Cents and Large Cents. Little did I know at the time of our meeting that Bob and I would soon become good friends, and he would become my mentor. He took me under his wing and taught me everything he knew about Half Cents. What he was able to teach me in a relatively short time would have taken me many years to do on my own. As an educator myself, I understand the importance of a good teacher to work with for any subject matter, not just coins.
One of the most important skills Bob taught me was how to grade Half Cents. Bob was a veteran member of EAC and had been collecting Half Cents since around 1962. He was an expert at grading these coins using the EAC method of grading. I was not familiar with
EAC grading at the time. My ability to grade these coins was rudimentary at best. I was grading Half Cents using what I had learned from the Guide Book of United States Coins, otherwise known as the Red Book. Well, needless to say, I was about to get a serious education on how these coins are really graded in the real world by major collectors. It was eye-opening, to say the very least. I had just stepped into a much larger world, and Bob's lessons on grading Half Cents would prove to be invaluable to my future collecting pursuits.
Sadly, Mr. Yuell passed away back in 2011. But just a few weeks before he passed, we spoke on the phone, and he made me promise him that I would pass on what I had learned. I have done my best to keep that promise by mentoring others as he did with me. And I hope this book reaches a wide audience, as well, because some of the information here came about because of Bob's generosity and efforts with me. Few things are more valuable than time, and my good friend and mentor gave his time freely to anyone who wanted to learn about Half Cents. I am forever grateful and hope to inspire others to learn as he did with me.
To read an earlier E-Sylum article, see:
ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS AUTHOR ED FUHRMAN
Wayne Homren, Editor
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