The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 26, Number 53, December 31, 2023, Article 15


Greg Bennick's latest interview for the Newman Numismatic Portal is with Tom Caldwell of Northeast Numismatics. Here's the first of four parts, where Tom discusses his start in the business. -Editor

GREG BENNICK: Hi, everybody. My name is Greg Bennick with the Newman Numismatic Portal. I'm in the midst of doing a series of interviews with prominent numismatists and thank you for being here today to watch this. I'm with Tom Caldwell today from Northeast Numismatics, and Tom and I are going to be discussing his [business]. We're going to be discussing his history. We're going to be discussing coins. We're going to be discussing all sorts of things from his career. Tom, I'm really glad you're able to join me today. Thanks so much.

Tom Caldwell Northeast Numismatics 2019-03 Whitman Coin Expo TOM CALDWELL: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

GREG BENNICK: Great. Well, let's get started with the basics. Tell me about your start in coins. How did you get your start in the hobby and when?

TOM CALDWELL: Okay. Well, it's kind of a corny story, but basically, I was in junior high, and my mother gave me milk money, as she did every day for school, and a friend, Chris Brannigan, who I haven't seen in over 50 years, said, Tom, you should check this coin out here. It was an 1867 Shield nickel. I don't remember if it was rays or without rays, and no, I don't still have that coin, but I checked it out. At the time, it was worth about $20. And you could say the rest is history. I've been doing it ever since. I've always been into coins.

GREG BENNICK: So did that coin come from the change that your mom gave you for milk money?

TOM CALDWELL: Yes, it did.

GREG BENNICK: Wow. That's fascinating. And you said you didn't have the coin anymore. Any idea what happened to it? Did you sell it as special?

TOM CALDWELL: I probably sold it.

GREG BENNICK: You probably did. (laughter)

TOM CALDWELL: At some point. I don't know.

GREG BENNICK: I've always wondered, and we can get into this in a bit, just how one decides what to sell and what to keep, whether as a dealer or as a collector. I'm more of a collector. You've been more of a dealer, I assume, over the years, but I'm just curious. Have you been more of a collector, or more of a dealer, or a mix of both?

TOM CALDWELL: I've pretty much always been a dealer. Basically, it's hard to collect, because you've got to pay the bills ... But ... I've always been buying and selling.

GREG BENNICK: Okay. Well, have you always been based in New England?

TOM CALDWELL: Yes. I was from Littleton, Massachusetts, which is 10 miles west of here. And now I'm in Concord. I've been in Concord for the last 40 years or so. Never had a real shop. Always been in an office. Starting in my parents' basement, had a shop and a sign out front, and then I moved around a few times, but then been here in Concord for 40 plus years.

GREG BENNICK: So, the sign outside your parents' basement, this was not public facing. This was just probably just to the neighborhood or to your family, letting them know that you were set up there?

TOM CALDWELL: No. It was public facing. It said Tom's Coins.

GREG BENNICK: Really? It really did. So, people could stop by? So why was it that you decided never to have an actual storefront?

TOM CALDWELL: Well, it's always we like to deal with the public, but to have that extra spot for people — where they could just sit down and just stay in your shop, and not that I'm antisocial or anything, but it was always just seemed better to be dealing with people on the phone and in the mail. And it is better security- wise. We find it better, which of course has come into more prominence as time has gone on. But just never went that route. It's considered over the years, but in the end, found a more ideal location to locate.

GREG BENNICK: Well, that makes sense. I was actually driving through Oregon last week and stopped in a small coin shop, and I walked in, and it was like this collection of people just lounging around talking about coins. It was quite obvious that these guys maybe were buying, maybe not, but they were just hanging out is what they were doing. And I could imagine that as a dealer, you'd want people going through the shop, buying, and selling and whatnot, rather than just hanging out all day long.

TOM CALDWELL: It's a different business model, just never totally went for, and I'm sure at this point, I never will.

GREG BENNICK: So Northeast Numismatics started from those humble beginnings in your parents' basement, or did the name and the store as it were, the business develop in a different way?

Northeast Numismatics logo TOM CALDWELL: Well, the name Northeast Numismatics started some years later. I went to a two-year business college around that time.

GREG BENNICK: And you've always worked under that banner in Northeast Numismatics?

TOM CALDWELL: That's correct. Yes.

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:
Tom Caldwell Interview (

To read the complete transcript, see:
Tom Caldwell Interview (Transcript) (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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