Fun with Common Coins

After all of our recent coin related activies, my son and I have been looking for more ways to keep the fun going. One really cheap and easy way to collect coins (especially as a beginner) is to get coin rolls from the bank and search through them.

For the last three days, I’ve been going in to our local branch and getting penny and nickel rolls. There are some people who don’t believe it’s worth it to search rolls. But my son and I beg to differ. 

The first two roll of nickels we broke open yielded us a 20 cent piece from Singapore, a 1940 nickel in fine condition and a decent set of dates from 1997 through 2018. The only years I didn’t get were 2001 and 2009.

The next few rolls of nickels gave us a few more earlier coins from the 1940s and 50s. Then we started getting into the penny rolls. Pennies are great fun because you can find such a range of dates and conditions. There are also several years that have errors or uncommon varieties that make looking through them an adventure.

Out of about seven rolls of pennies we’ve found at least three wheat pennies as well as other interesting specimens. But even if we don’t find tons worth keeping, we can just bring the remaining coins back to the bank and we’re only out a few cents. It’s great fun for any day.

Numismatic Adventure Day 2 – Denver Coin Expo

In my last post I told you about visiting the Denver Mint. But on the same day we visited the Mint, the Denver Coin Expo was just getting started. Billed as “One of the largest and oldest coin shows in the Rocky Mountains!”, it did end up being really big at around 140 tables and a whole lot of people attending. 

We got out of the Mint at around 9:00am and the expo started at 10:00am. While we weren’t the first ones in the door (mostly because I missed a turn and had to drive through construction traffic to get to the parking lot) we must have been pretty close. The expo was going to last three days but we only had one as we had to go home the next morning. So we had a lot of coins to look at in a short time.

Since both of us are new collectors we spent the day learning about coins more than we did buying them. The dealers at the show were great. There were a few that didn’t seem like they wanted to be there but for the most part everyone was very friendly. 

Riley went off on his own and made his own deals while I sat at a few tables looking through discount coin bins and talking to some great people. I especially enjoyed talking with Tom and Sandy from Tom and Sandy’s Coins. they live in Huntsville, TX but apparently come to the Denver show often.

While the expo was a great treasure hunt it was also very educational. We learned about collecting coins, sure, but we also heard mini lectures from several ancient coin dealers about the history surrounding some of their specimens. Other dealers taught us about events surrounding some of the earlier US coins we were looking at.

We didn’t spend very much money at the show since we really didn’t know what we wanted to collect. Now that the show is over, however, we have a much better idea of what interests us (and what we can afford).

If you haven’t already, Check out my post on Day 1 of the trip.

Numismatic Adventure Day 2 – The Denver Mint

Yesterday I wrote about Day 1 of my numismatic trip through eastern Colorado. My son and I spent that first day travelling and visiting the American Numismatic Association’s Money Museum in Colorado Springs.

The Denver Mint

Day 2 started out with a visit to the Denver Mint. I’ve been wanting to take my son to the mint for years now. This year presented the perfect opportunity since, in school, he’s studying early American economics and the government’s role in our money system. One of the beauties of home schooling is that it’s easy to re-arrange schedules and just go when an opportunity arises.

While learning about touring the Mint, I discovered that getting tickets can be a bit of a competitive sport. Tickets for the tours are free but they’re available on a first-come-first-served basis. The ticket window opens at 7:00 am so at the very least you want to arrive by then to try and secure entry. Certain times of the year can be extra busy. We weren’t going during one of the posted “busy” times but there was a large coin expo starting that day and I didn’t know if that would bring in more people for the tour or not.

Well, I wasn’t about to take a chance on missing the tour after driving as far as we had. So at 5:00 am we were up and getting ready. At 5:30 we left the hotel and drove to downtown Denver. We got there by 6:00 and drove past the ticket window to see if any crazy people were freezing in line yet. Nobody was. It looked like we were the only crazy ones. Ok, Ok, I was the only crazy one. My son didn’t have a choice.

Anyway, we parked on the street less than a block away and waited. Every 10 minutes or so we would hop out and go around the corner to see if anyone was there. Finally, about 6:30 I looked and saw two people in line!

Since we were already there I figured we might as well wait in line too. You never know when the hordes will come. So for about 25 minutes we shivered and waited. But we definitely got our tickets! And sure enough, the hordes eventually came but they had slept in.

Denver Mint Visitor Entrance

We took the first tour of the day at 8:00am. Since you have to be at the door 30 minutes early for security measures, we had less than half an hour to wait back in the car. At 7:30 we were back out shivering until being invited through the metal detectors and into a small museum.

Tourist are given about 20 minutes to mill about and look at the coins on the wall. After the Money Museum the day before, this collection wasn’t overly impressive but there were still some interesting things to see. I was more enthralled with the bathroom in the museum since I hadn’t had access to one for 2 ½ hours but had needed one for 2 hours. Rest assured, there’s one there.

The tour itself took about 45 minutes. The tour guide looked just like Brian Cranston but was a lot nicer than Walter White. Unfortunately, the most you get to see of the money making process is a bunch of pennies going by in little white trays. You can’t expect much though since this is an industrial manufacturing plant. But it would have been more exciting if the workers down on the floor were wearing hazmat suits or were dressed like Oompa Loompas or something.

The tour is more a guided museum walk with historic displays and the guide telling stories. You do get to peek in a little vault and see a few gold bars (part of the much larger store they keep there) and at the end of the tour see the original entrance and lobby which are amazing.

After the tour we went through the gift shop and bought four, uncirculated, 2018 state quarters for the rock bottom price of $1.

2018 Georgia State Quarter

I thoroughly enjoyed the Mint and my son had a pretty good time too. But after the tour, our numismatic day wasn’t over. We had one more event to attend to make it a trifecta. But that will have to wait until tomorrow’s post.

A Numismatic Adventure – Day 1

Last week my son Riley and I went on an epic, 2 day numismatic adventure through Colorado. Day 1 found us descending from our 11,000 foot Rocky Mountain apex to the measly 6000 foot depression of Colorado Springs. There, we visited the American Numismatic Association’s (ANA) Money Museum.

We saw amazing examples of coins, medallions and minting equipment. It might sound boring to walk around looking coins under glass but to a couple of coin geeks like us, it was a thrill. And we actually learned a lot (this was an educational trip after all).

The museum’s main exhibit focused on WWI numismatics but we were able to also see examples of ancient coins and early colonial and US money too.
I hadn’t planned on spending long at the museum since we had a nearly two hour drive back to Denver to get to our hotel. But between the exhibits I’ve already mentioned and the amazing display of a 30 million dollar collection of gold coins, we were there almost two hours and still didn’t see everything.

My son and I are both ANA members so we were able to access the museum for free. Non-member admission is still cheap at only $8 for adults (free for kids under 12). But if going to museums just isn’t your thing, you can still see everything by taking a free virtual tour online. Check out https://www.money.org/money-museum-virtualtour. It’s almost as fun as being there in person.

Long Poem

I hate long
poems that
go on and on
forever
making some
cerebral point
pointed by a
point of view
only the poet
who wrote the poem
would ever know
or care about.
Universal truth
abandoned and
a common bond
never bound but
words expected by
some teacher in
an obscure
junior college
to be understood
by her students
-What it mean?
-Why line break there?
-Why 50 pages
but each line
only 3 words?
Only the poet
who wrote the poem
would ever know
or care about
a lack of rhyme
or mention of
misanthropy on
the eve of winter’s
Dalmatian grip
or a circus
of puffins
returning to their
birth-place-slowly;
How magic
leaves leave Fall
by falling magically
with thoughts of
stardom fading as
the noonday sun
shines brighter
than all the home
fires burning to
call the lost
home for love
or hate or
whatever awaits
their time scarred lives.
For It’s these
obvious signs of
elevated “greatness”
and existential
extension that
grip me by
the throat and
threaten my very
being until, relenting,
I grasp the drawn-
out beast in a
fervent embrace
and declare my
acceptance and love
for all eternity but –
I cannot with
right conscience love
what demands to
be unlovely and
rip my life from life
and imprint it on
an unprintable page.And that is why
I hate long poems
that go on and on
forever
making some cerebral point,
pointed to a
point of view
only the poet
who wrote the poem
would ever know
or care about.

My Goals are Flexible

About five weeks ago I embarked on a four week journey to teach my body how to do the splits. Now if you’re math savvy you’ll notice the anomoly in the previous sentence. For me, four weeks is not nearly enough time to learn how to rip the two halves of my body from each other like a Thanksgiving wishbone.

I’ll readily admit there was no way I was going to meet the four week goal. But I do have a a bit of an excuse because I pulled one or more major muscles in the lower half of my body last friday. Ok, technically that happened after the four weeks was up but it certainly felt like a contributing factor.

All this is simply to restate the obvious: I failed my initial splits experiment. But I’m not giving up entirely. I won’t let this defeat me. I’m going to get right back to stretching for the splits – as soon as I no longer have to use a cane to walk.

Excruciating Circumstances

Yesterday I thought it would be funny to sneak up on my unsuspecting teenager and try to scare him. He had on an unzipped hoodie and had pulled the two sides of it up and over his head. Don’t ask why he was doing that. As I said in the first sentence, he’s a teenager. He had no idea I was behind him.

So I quickly wrapped my arms around his waist and said “gotcha”. Well, I scared him so well that he threw himself forward while my arms where still locked around his waist. That move pulled me forward and wrenched something in my back.

Since then I’ve been in terrible pain. It’s been hard to sit, hard to stand and moving is, hard. I’m so uncomfortable that I really didn’t want to to write this post. When my son heard me say this he responded “Just skip it today, you have excruciating circumstances”. 

He thought he was pretty clever with that one. Actually, I thought it was pretty clever too. So I decided to write through the pain and post this, just so I could use his phrase. 

Excruciating Circumstances