Greg Bennick's latest interview for the Newman Numismatic Portal is with dealer Julian Leidman. Here's the first part, where Julian talks about first getting interested in coins.
Greg Bennick: Hi, everybody. I'm Greg Bennick with the Newman Numismatic Portal, and this
is another interview. And not just another interview, it's a great interview in a series of interviews
that I'm doing for the NMP. Today, I'm with Julian Leidman. Julian is from Bonanza Coins in
Silver Springs, Maryland. Julian is a lifetime member of the ANA. He also received a Lifetime
Achievement Award from the Professional Numismatist Guild, PNG, and also from the ANA. So,
this is a special interview, and I'm very excited about it. Julian, thanks for taking some time and
being with me today.
Julian Leidman: Happy to do it, Greg. Thank you.
Greg Bennick: Awesome. Well, let's get started with the basics, because I always love the basics
and everyone's background story. Tell me, how did you get started in coin collecting? Where did
it all begin?
Julian Leidman: It began in the 1950s. We had just gotten a television in the house, and my
parents decided they had to get me out from the television. So, they said, ‘Why don't you try a
hobby?' And the first thing I tried was stamps, and it didn't go very well. And then my mother
showed me some coins, and that was more interesting. And that went well.
Greg Bennick: This is great because when I started collecting, my father tried to get me interested
in stamps to start, and I had no interest in it whatsoever. And I immediately gravitated towards
coins. Similar background story, in a way. So, what were the coins that you collected first? What
were the first coins that you collected that you enjoyed?
Julian Leidman: Well, I lived in upstate New York, in Troy, New York, which isn't so far from
Canada. But I started with the basic stuff, Lincolns and Jeffersons. I also probably collected
Canadian small cents at the time too. I started just a very basic beginning collection.
Greg Bennick: So, when was it that that very basic beginning collection took a step forward?
What were the moments or the coins themselves that made that basic collection of cents, say, in a
Whitman album, and took that to the next level?
Julian Leidman: You know, as I would look through coins, and find coins that I needed, and find
coins that maybe some of my friends needed, it did kick up a little bit. The next major event for
me, really, was as I was a sophomore in high school, my father got transferred to Washington DC,
Veterans Administration. And since I was 15 at the time, I went. And then when I got to Maryland,
I kinda realized, well, I kinda left my friends at home, in Troy, and so the coins picked up even
more. I met my long-time friend and colleague Al Bonan, who had Bonanza Coins, and his store
was a mile from my high school. And of course, I wasn't driving, but I was hitchhiking. So, I
would go over to the store and do various little things, all the time looking through coins, and
finding other coins. And that's really where the focus was at the time.
Greg Bennick: Now, over the years, you've played the roles of dealer, researcher and collector,
representative for folks in auctions. And I know that you've gone to auctions throughout your
entire life. And I wanted to maybe touch on the three of those to start. And first, as a dealer, you've
had this incredible career with Bonanza, and have been to major coin shows over the last - I'm
assuming - probably over the last 50 years or so. So, with that in mind, what are your favorite coins
that you've handled over the years? Are there any in particular that stand out?
Julian Leidman: Well, when I started going to coin shows, it was actually in the - I actually think
I went to my first coin show in 1964 or 1965. And it was either... I think it was the Blue Ridge
Numismatic Association convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. And interestingly enough, at the
time, they had teletypes on the floor of the convention. This is teletype, this isn't - and they actually
had machines there, buying and selling. There was a lot of wheeling and dealing. Of course, the
wheeling and dealing was in a different kind of coin than I was normally interested in. I had kinda
gravitated toward beautiful coins. I liked really pretty coins, and buying and selling, and going
around there. The next big show I can think of attending was the Metropolitan Washington
Numismatic Association convention, the very first one.
And that was at the old Sheraton Park Hotel in Washington. And it was held in the ballroom with
a grand staircase coming down into the bourse room. The bourse room was... I don't know, maybe
50 or 60 dealers. It was something impressive for me, and of course impressive because of the fact
that it's in the grand ballroom of the Sheraton Park. And I was able to go around and meet more
dealers. I had already met my local dealers. The big ones were Ben Douglas and Jack O. King.
Jack had a table at the convention, and he had a little sign in his case that said ‘All prices are firm,'
which was interesting. But I grew pretty close to Jack, and over the years I did some very nice
business with him. He was a coin and stamp dealer, and I enjoyed him. And of course, I knew Ben
very well. And after Ben passed away, his sister gave me the balance of his coins to market for
And I did that for many, many years, really. I've always been a very patient person, patient in
buying and patient in selling. Patience is really critical in numismatics, I feel. You can't necessarily
jump on the first one, unless you have the experience to know the first one may be the only one.
And so, that's something that I learned over the years.
About the Interviewer
Greg Bennick (www.gregbennick.com) is a keynote speaker and long time coin collector with a focus on major mint error coins. Have ideas for other interviewees? Contact him anytime on the web or via instagram @minterrors.
To watch the complete video, see:
Julian Leidman Interview
To read the complete transcript, see:
Julian Leidman Interview (Transcript)
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