Collecting Friends: Coins Are Where You Find Them

Coins Are Where You Find Them

Dennis: Steve, do you ever find yourself thinking you see coins (or actually randomly see them) in unexpected, non-numismatic places? My Tiny Boss Lady™ is seven years old now, and for fall break last year we undertook a magical and exhausting American rite of passage: the first trip to Disney World. I wasn’t actively searching for numismatic material—how can you, with so many dwarfs and mice in tuxedoes running around?—but throughout each day coins, paper scrip, and exonumia seemed to find me. I’ve been a collector since I was about the TBL’s age, and my eye is automatically drawn to small, round, metallic-looking objects. If I catch a glance, I can’t resist taking a closer look. Is it a coin? a token? a medal? Here are a few things that jumped out at me at Disney World, in-between rollercoaster rides and dodging giant foam-headed characters.

Pop-Century_framed-memorabilia_smallWe stayed in Pop Century, a Disney resort themed around American twentieth-century pop culture. The centrally located “Classic Hall” (where check-in and the dining room are) has framed displays of toys, games, newspapers, and other Americana laid out by decade, 1950s to 1990s.


Games, comic books, and other pop culture from my childhood in the 1980s.

A set of Apollo mission medals commemorates the astronauts who undertook America’s ambitious manned space program.


What’s that I spy up in the late-1950s case? 


Representing the drive-ins and drive-thrus of the 1950s: a tray with some change from the purchase of a Big Boy hamburger. The Franklin half dollar, Wheat cent, silver Washington quarter, and Roosevelt dime all look well worn. I guess it wouldn’t make sense to glue a set of Proof coins up there!


Coin collectors love folders, albums, and other cases to display and show off our collections. This Disney medallion collector book (a six-ring binder), on sale in the Magic Kingdom’s souvenir shops, holds eight sheets of ten commemorative medals that help you celebrate “100 Years of Wonder.” The medals themselves are sold separately.


After you’re back on dry land in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, plenty of gift-shop treasures lie in wait to separate you from your gold. These replicas of old Spanish coins were glued to a tabletop near swords, eyepatches, and other booty.


Our favorite roller coaster was Animal Kingdom’s “Expedition Everest,” which creates a journey through the Himalayan Mountains—and a search for the mysterious yeti—on an old tea train. As you wind your way toward the ride’s loading station, you’re immersed in exhibits, rooms, and tableaux that build suspense and a sense of uneasy wonder around the legend of the yeti. In a tea garden there’s a shrine to the mountain creature with tributes of fruit and what appear to be scattered coins. 


A coin collector might be tempted to jump into the garden with a magnifying glass and copy of the Standard Catalog of World Coins, but I don’t think the yeti would look kindly on such disrespect.


Cogsworth, the blustery majordomo of Beauty’s Beast, has watch-fob medals in his decorative motifs. This piece designed for the 2017 live-action movie was displayed in a theater along with other costume and prop items.



These animals, some with coins, are in a collection of Feng-Shui zodiac sculptures in the China Pavilion at Epcot. The Rat represents wisdom and prosperity—hence the coin he’s guarding. A Goat resting on a pile of coins symbolizes abundant wealth coming in the new year.

Steve: Dennis! I’m much more a fan of finding treasures of the art and architectural sort while on vacation: like discovering old banks – or buildings that used to be banks – with fanciful coin designs as decoration. Just like a collector would go through a box of coins, I went through my pictures to find this numismatic marvel: a 1907 Peace dollar carved onto the side of a former bank turned cell phone store in downtown Columbus, Ohio. As one can learn in the Red Book, the Peace dollar was struck from 1921 to 1935. No silver dollars were struck after 1904 when the Morgan dollar went on hiatus until its revival in 1921 (and then both types were produced for collectors starting in 2021 thanks to the always busy U.S. Mint). An Art Deco inspired eagle grasps the numismatically impossible adornment on the side of 56 North High Street, a stately 1930s era Art Moderne building. Going through my photos to find that image reminded me of a perfect October trip to watch my partner's dad complete a marathon at nearly 70 years young. He wasn’t moving too much the next day.

Be on the lookout for another installment of Collecting Friends next month or subscribe here and never miss a post! In the meantime, explore beautiful coins from the ANA's Edward C. Rochette Money Museum Virtual Exhibits.

About the Collecting Friends Blog

Hello! And welcome to the ANA’s blog series, “Collecting Friends.”

We decided to approach this much like a conversation between friends. One of us starts with a topic, then the other responds. Simple as that. Along those lines, we’ll keep the tone conversational as much as possible. 

We both write about coins professionally, and will keep our relative style guides in our writing. For Dennis, Publisher at Whitman Publishing, that means capitalizing “Proof” and italicizing Red Book and never saying anything bad about Ken Bressett, who’s awesome anyway. 

For Steve, who’s written with Coin World for 15 years, it means Winged Liberty Head dime instead of “Mercury” dime, and similar nuances and oddities. And, it means writing A Guide Book of United States Coins (better known as the “Red Book”). 

Both of us started collecting when we were little, introduced to coins by a chance encounter with an old coin that sparked our curiosity. One of Steve’s interests is coin valuation, and he gravitates towards the intersection of art and coins. Dennis enjoys medals and world coins, and studying modern U.S. coins in the context of older series, what came before.

We met in 2012 at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Philadelphia at an event hosted by the Austrian Mint where there was both a Ben Franklin and a Betsy Ross impersonator. We’ve become great friends in the past decade. We even were appointed together to sit on the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee starting in 2016, but Steve resigned soon after he was appointed to accept a full-time job at the Treasury Department while Dennis was re-appointed in 2020.

We taught a course together on numismatic publishing and writing a few years ago at the Summer Seminar, and while life has gotten in the way of us teaching another class, we jumped at our friend Caleb’s suggestion that we write a column. We hope you enjoy it! 

steve roach circle frame (2)dennis tucker circle frame (2)


About the American Numismatic Association

The American Numismatic Association (ANA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and encouraging people to study and collect coins and related items. The Association serves collectors, the general public, and academic communities with an interest in numismatics.

The ANA helps all people discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of educational programs including its museum, library, publications, conventions and numismatic seminars.

Learn how you can become a member of the ANA here.

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