An old coffee can or jewelry box is the same as a treasure chest for the crew on duty at the Cannonsburg Days Inn on behalf of the National Coin Collectors Association.
“We do the work. If someone has a box of jewelry, or a can of coins, we sort them all out for people,” said collector Jeff Hunter, moments after sorting a coffee can of coins left to Raymond and Sharon Stephens of Ashland by her father, Okie Green.
“I’ve learned a lot today,” Mrs. Stephens said, explaining she was unaware of the potential value of a nickel with a “three-legged buffalo” or steel pennies minted during World War II.
Mrs. Stephens said she and her husband weren’t really interested in making money, although they were interested in learning about the coins her father had collected in the old can.
“We were just really curious because we knew he had left them for a reason,” she said.
Angela Wright, field manager for the association and the daughter of bluegrass musicians from Kentucky and West Virginia, said she always expects to see prized musical instruments among the things people bring to sell when the company hosts events in this area.
“I’m always asking where the old Martins and Gibsons are,” she said with a chuckle.
Wright said the team of three collectors has been seeing lots of coins, as well as a respectable amount of gold, during the visit, which continues through late Sunday afternoon.
“If we get real crazy we’ll bring in more experts,” she said, noting this is a particularly good time to buy and sell gold.
“With gold at a 40-year high, almost $1,300 an ounce, we’re obviously going to be buying that,” she said, emphasizing they are interested in everything from scrap gold to fine jewelry — as well as “anything sterling,” and military memorabilia.
“It has been mainly coins so far, but people talk to us and then go home and see what other things they have. They go back and start digging. By the weekend, it’s a buying frenzy,” she said. “We recommend the women bring their whole jewelry box in.”
With Internet information readily available, Wright said most of the visitors tend to have a decent idea of the value of the things they are bringing in, even though most tend to overvalue heirloom items because of sentimental reasons. When that happens, Wright said the collectors simply talk to people and explain sentimental value does not translate to dollar bills, unless the item in front of them has serious documentation making it a historical object.
Even when someone has something more valuable than he or she realizes, Wright and her team said they dare not try to take advantage of the circumstances because it would ultimately work against them. Bargains and rare finds, however, are still found from time to time. Wright said her personal best purchase was a coin from 1856.
“It was an 1856 flying-eagle penny. They only made 2,000 of them and I found one,” she said with a note of pride.
Agents representing the National Coin Collectors Association will be at the Days Inn in Cannonsburg from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Sunday. The collectors discourage telephone calls because of the difficulty of evaluating anything they can’t see, and encourage anyone with something to sell to simply show up.
“Come as you are, bring what you have,” Wright said.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.