Greg Bennick's latest interview for the Newman Numismatic Portal is with token expert David Schenkman.
Here's the first of six parts, where Dave discusses getting started as a collector and dealer.
Greg Bennick: Hi everybody, this is Greg Bennick with the Newman Numismatic Portal. I've
been doing a series of interviews with numismatists, collectors and dealers from around the
world, and this is yet another installment in that series. And I'm really excited today because
today with me, I have David Schenkman. We're going to be talking about tokens and medals,
we're going to be talking about his extensive numismatic history, and I'm really excited for this
interview. So David, thank you so much for being here today.
David Schenkman: It's my pleasure.
Greg Bennick: Well, I wanted to dive right in just with some origins. And I think that my
intention with interviewing you is going to take a couple of different paths. One is the basic
path, meaning for folks who maybe haven't encountered tokens and medals and other things
you've specialized in. And then the other path will be for more of the specialists, like we'll talk
about some specific pieces and some more details about those avenues that you've explored, but
let's start with your origins. What was your origin story in terms of coins and tokens and
collecting? How did that all come about?
David Schenkman: I started collecting stamps at a very early age. When I was nine years old,
my mother gave me a box of Indian head pennies that she'd had since she was a girl, and
immediately I liked them better than I did stamps. They were tangible items that could actually
be spent. I never did. So I became interested in those, and then shortly after that, one of my
aunts who lived in Colorado sent me a silver dollar, a Morgan dollar. That was really
meaningful to me, so that was my introduction. And it wasn't long before I got one of the blue
books and then a Red Book. I think my first Red Book was not until about 1955, but I started
looking at them and started collecting.
Greg Bennick: You know, it's interesting. I actually started with a blue book and a Red Book
as well. And for those unfamiliar with the blue book, the blue book was wholesale pricing for
coins in the United States. The Red Book, of course, was retail pricing. And I remember taking
my blue book and going to see some coin dealers and sort of criticizing them as a ten year old
saying that their coins were overpriced because I was reading wholesale pricing out of the blue
book rather than retail out of the Red Book. I don't know if you had a similar experience or if
you were using yours a little more wisely than I was using mine.
David Schenkman: I just remembered that it gave me a guideline as to what potentially was
Greg Bennick: Ultimately, that's what the Red Book did, I think for a lot of people, was just let
people know what was there and if there was a Red Book variety that was listed and all of a
sudden made that a valid coin to pursue and to attempt to collect. So, when you started with
coins, I'm assuming probably late forties, early fifties, and you got these first pieces and that
silver dollar, then what happened to make tokens come about in your field of vision, as it were?
David Schenkman: Well that was a lot later. By the time I was probably 15 years old, I was
collecting fairly seriously coins. As a matter of fact, the man that lived across the street from me
introduced me to antique cars and I helped him build them. I learned about them, but he was the
manager of a bank and he let me come up and back then you could look at bags of silver dollars
if they had them. And when I was 15 years old, I found a 1903-O, which means very little to
people today because a big hoard of them came out when the government released silver
dollars. But it was very rare then and I sold it for enough money to buy my first car when I was
15. And so, I was buying coins rather seriously by the time I was out of high school.
I was 17, I joined the Navy, much to the dismay of my parents who wanted me to go to Juilliard
or someplace like that. I put all my coins in my dad's safe deposit box, and when I got out, I got
them back out and they had gone up a lot. I had a lot of coins that had gone up, things like I had
rolls of 1931 pennies uncirculated. I had some 55 double dies that I had bought for very little
money back then. So, I started selling coins part time.
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:
David Schenkman Interview
To read the complete transcript, see:
David Schenkman Interview (Transcript)
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