In the Beginning…

Old coins from Grandma's Change Purse

I believe everyone has coins in their collection that are only there for sentimental reasons. How many of us became interested in numismatics because of a gift from a grandparent, an obsolete coin in our change, or a chance find while exploring an old barn?

My grandma’s house was full of things that an 8 year old would find fascinating. The best thing was a china cabinet full of old glassware. At any given time this collection of candy dishes and punch bowls would hold any interesting change that had come across the counter at the post office or hardware store where my grandparents worked. Because I had shown an interest in my grandad’s coin collection, I had free reign to dig through the cabinet to my heart’s content.

One day Grandma showed me a change purse her mother had given her when Grandma was a little girl. My great-grandma got it from her grandfather, Thomas Mayes. Inside were coins like I had never seen before: pennies the size of half dollars, dimes and quarters with funny designs.

Many years later, Grandad’s coin collection passed on to me along with the change purse from the china cabinet¬†and its contents. The oldest of those coins, two Braided Hair Large Cents dated 1847 and 1851, have been in my family now for six generations. The Barber dimes and quarter were a later addition to¬†the change purse by my great-grandma. A dealer might give me 30 or 40 dollars for the whole lot. I wouldn’t take a million. These coins and my family are tied together in my mind. My grandparents passed on a lifetime of enjoyment and curiosity with this little stack of mementos from a bygone era.

You can’t buy that in a coin shop.

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