The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 26, Number 44, October 29, 2023, Article 14


Greg Bennick's latest interview for the Newman Numismatic Portal is with longtime dealer Ron Gillio. Here's the fourth of five parts, where Ron discusses fellow dealers Abe Kosoff and Sol Kaplan. -Editor

Ron Gillio RON GILLIO: Well, Abe Kosoff is a big standout in my memory because when I first started, he was in Encino, California. And then he moved to Palm Springs. And I used to go and visit him and do business with him and buy coins from him. Not so much in the 70s. I really didn't start buying coins from him until the 1980s. But through the 80s and 90s, I did business with him. And he was a sharp dresser. He was very diplomatic, always just perfectly dressed. And he was very fair. He always treated me very well as most of those dealers during that time did. But he was close, so I could readily, you know, go see him and buy a few coins. And then he started giving me coins at consignment to sell for him, which was good. So, I did that. And I'll never forget the time that he called me one time. This is, I believe, could have been the 80s or maybe early 90s. He called me and said he's got something he wants to sell me. He wanted me to come to Palm Springs. And what it was, he was very friendly and partners with Sol Kaplan, who was another dealer at that time. And Sol had passed away. And he said, I'm handing Sol's estate. And I got the balance left. He says, I want to sell it to you. And I'll never forget it because it was safety deposit box and safety deposit boxes full of coins and paper money. And so, I asked him, What do you want for it? He said, You figure out a price. So, I figured out a price. I'll never forget the price because I ended up buying it for $126,000. Well, I didn't have $126,000 at the time. I mean, I had money, but it was all tied up. So, I said, I can buy it from you, Abe. I can give you $10,000 and pay you the rest later. He says, Fine. He says, pay me when you can. I'll never forget that. I had, excuse me, I had that same relationship with several dealers that Bob Johnson, Sam Coppell in Los Angeles. These are people that were icons in the industry at the time. And they always treated me very fairly. Always willing to loan me money or sell me coins, pay me later. And of course, I always paid them. So, they kept selling to me. But no, Abe was a fantastic gentleman.

GREG BENNICK: I really like hearing that. And I actually have a couple of people in the industry who have sold me coins. One in particular that I remember just last year sold me a quite expensive counterstamp coin. And I couldn't possibly pay for it at the time. And he wrote on the invoice, No dying allowed!, meaning I'm not allowed to die until I pay him. Once I pay him, I can do whatever I want. I can pay him whenever I can, but no dying allowed. I'm not allowed to die before I pay the invoice for this coin. So, I'm half looking forward to paying it off, but I also don't want to pay it off because I don't want to start dying. But it's always good to have people like that in the industry who are willing to support you. And it sounds like you had that support from some icons in the industry as well.

RON GILLIO: Yeah, I know. And just going back to the Silver Certificate days, Sam Coppell in Los Angeles, one of the dealers that I was buying Silver Certificates from, and one time I couldn't pay him. I'll never forget it because not only he said, You can pay me later. He says, Let me give you a couple of thousand dollars working capital more so you have more money to work with. He said, But I want interest. And he charged me some kind of interest. So, no, I had a big support. And another one was Lester Merkin in New York who really helped me out, who was introduced to me by Bob Johnson on one of our trips to New York. And Lester was another gentleman.

GREG BENNICK: Now, Lester was doing quite a few auctions. I know that I own quite a few of his auction catalogs. I know he was doing auctions constantly. You were doing auctions as well, either at the time or shortly thereafter. Isn't that, right?

RON GILLIO: Well, like I said, in 1967-68, I was in the auction business with Paul Koppen here where I had auctions in Van Nuys. Then I started having my own auctions at the Long Beach Coin Show in the 90s, maybe late 80s.

GREG BENNICK: Okay. So, it was a bit later, but still.

RON GILLIO: Long Beach Coin Show and different coin shows, I would have auctions. They started about 1983 because I had a certified coin auction when PCGS started in 1986. And then I also started having auctions in Hong Kong and I started running shows in Hong Kong in the 1980s. So totally, I had auctions in Hong Kong, Japan, and the US. I had a total of about 80 some odd auctions all through my career.

GREG BENNICK: Now, the auctions that you were doing in Hong Kong and Japan, because we focused our conversation so far on Switzerland, how did you make it over to Hong Kong and Japan? And were you buying and selling Chinese coins and Japanese coins or were you selling US coins in Hong Kong and US coins in Japan?

RON GILLIO: In Japan, it was an interesting question you asked because one of the coins that's really popular in Japan is a $10 Indian gold coin. It was used for jewelry. This is in the 1990s now, maybe late 1980s. But I would go to Switzerland, buy rolls of $10 Indians, 50 coins through a roll, fly directly from Zurich to Tokyo and sell them there. And that kind of got me interested in also Asian coins. So, I started dealing in Japanese coins. I'd find Japanese coins in Europe and then I'd bring them to Japan and sell them. Same thing with the Chinese coins. I got interested in the Chinese coins. So, I started buying the Chinese coins in the United States along with the Japanese coins and then selling them in Japan and Hong Kong. And then not buying, I never really bought too much US coins in Asia. I did buy some, but not very many.

GREG BENNICK: Were people in Hong Kong and Japan, were they interested in slabbed coins as that took off or were they more interested in raw coins like you mentioned for jewelry?

RON GILLIO: Well, during the time I was doing it, there was just raw coins. I mean, I did go to Japan. I did take David Hall to Japan on a trip. We went to a coin show together and I helped him promote PCGS. This was in ‘88, ‘89. And they started getting interested in the slabbed coins then, which they are now. But during the time when I went over there, there was really no slabs yet. It didn't really kick in until the 90s. So, most of my auctions were raw coins and I'd get quite a few consignments from people in Hong Kong at the time for Chinese coins in my auction. But yeah, that was my extent of the auction business. And then I had auctions in San Francisco with Bob Johnson and Butterfield's Auction Gallery. And like I said earlier, now I'm with Stack Bowers getting consignments for Stack Bowers auctions.

GREG BENNICK: You mentioned the Long Beach show. When did you first start going to the Long Beach show?

RON GILLIO: Long Beach show started in ‘63 or ‘64. I started going around that same time, around the first or the second show. It's interesting. I don't know if many people know how the Long Beach coin show got started, but I'll tell you the story.

GREG BENNICK: Please do.

RON GILLIO: So, the big show, as I said earlier, was the Southern California Numismatic Association at the Statler-Hilton in Los Angeles. It was a big show. And there were two-coin dealers that got kicked out of the show. It was Ray Lungern from Century Stamp & Coin in Los Angeles and Sam Frodicus from, he had a coin shop in Long Beach, California. They got kicked out of the show for some reason. I don't know why. They wouldn't let them have a table. So, Sam, Trader Sam and Ray Lungern just decided to have their own show and they opened the show in Long Beach. So that's what got Long Beach started. I think it's again; I think it's 1964. And so, they started the show in Long Beach. And so, I attended the Long Beach coin show every year since the sixties. And then I bought it from the owners at the time, which was Sam Lopresto in 1992. And then I ran it from 1992 to 2005. And then I sold it to David Hall at PCGS and PCGS still owns it.

GREG BENNICK: What was it like running the Long Beach show? I mean, you must've been the focus of a lot of attention, but also probably had to put out a ton of energy and coordinate so many different people. And just what are your memories of that?

RON GILLIO: Well, since I had the experience of running the coin show in the past and running auctions, I mean, I had a grasp of how to do it. And it was just like you said, it was just coordinating people. I had a good staff of people working for me and organizing the show and you'd hire a decorator. And the biggest challenge was dealing with all the dealers, you know, want everything a certain way, which is okay. So, it was an interesting experience. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed running the show. And I mean, at the same time running the show, I still attended the show and bought and sold coins.

GREG BENNICK: Now, as I understand it, I might be completely off base here. I understand that the early Long Beach days were wild, meaning people describe that the feeling of the show was more energetic. There was crazy things happening. The impression I got from talking to some people. And again, I might be totally off base and just hearing the impression of one or two wild party goers was that it was almost like, just like this, like wild scene at the Long Beach show. Is that true? Or can we put that rumor to rest? And it was just an amazing coin show that just happened to be a lot of fun.

RON GILLIO: Well, it was, the coin show was always very exciting, very energetic. There was a lot of things going on around the coin show, like poker games and wild parties. I would imagine. I mean, I sort of remember some myself, but it was very, things were different then because we didn't have the internet during that majority of the time that I went to the Long Beach show. So, it was exciting to see what you could find at the show. And a lot of dealers would come just to sell at the show. And a lot of dealers would come just to buy as they do today. And it was very exciting. It was very exciting.

GREG BENNICK: Sounds great. Now what's overall, even Long Beach aside, what has been your favorite show to attend over the years?

RON GILLIO: Favorite show. Well, I mean, I think the most interesting show and my favorite show is the American Numismatic Association shows, because that's even like just recently in Pittsburgh, it's a show you go to, you see some people, you only see them there. And that's the only show that they go to, whether it be collectors or dealers. And it's a who's who of people, numismatists and collectors and important people in our industry. And there's a lot of great educational talks. I always take time out to go see the exhibits. And so, I would say my favorite is the ANA shows. Although I like going to the shows, I still go to shows in Europe, which are a little bit different than the shows here, even the way they display their merchandise. So those are always fun to go to, too. I still attend some of those.

GREG BENNICK: How do they display their merchandise differently?

RON GILLIO: Well, today, like the last European show I was at was in Monaco. And you go to the show and there's some standard tables that have the showcases and the coins in the showcase. But traditionally, and there's still a majority of the dealers lay their coins out on little trays. No, not in showcases. They lay them on little trays where you can actually pick up the coins and look at them or even the slabs. They're not in cases and they just display things different is what they do.

GREG BENNICK: It's interesting you mentioned that because I know that Morton & Eden has an auction of quite exquisite ancient Greek coins coming up. And when I saw them recently, they had their coins just in trays and they were happy to show me coins that were well beyond what I would be purchasing. But they absolutely pulled them out, said, Here, check it out, play with the coins, look at them, feel free to consider bidding on them. And it was a really different experience than just seeing trays of slabbed coins, of course, in cases.

RON GILLIO: Right. And like I say, they're not even at the European shows where I saw Morton & Eden's show in Pittsburgh too, where they're laid out on just on the table, not even in cases. So, it's just another way of doing business. And the same thing, especially the European auctions in London, whereas you're bidding on the coins, they're taking the coins around. There's like a horseshoe, the auctioneers, the podium, and there's a horseshoe you can sit at tables. And as the lots come up, they take them around. I don't think they do it too much anymore, but that used to be the system in London.

GREG BENNICK - 2023 headshot About the Interviewer
Greg Bennick ( 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:
Ron Gillio Interview (

To read the complete transcript, see:
Ron Gillio Interview (Transcript) (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

TCNC 2023-11 Extravaganza II Sale cover

Wayne Homren, Editor

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