I am a collector of coins, civil War tokens, and currency. I began collecting when
I was 12 years old. Like most collectors I began collecting modern cents, nickels,
dimes, Morgan Silver Dollars, paper money, and everything else! I came to realize
early on that I needed to educate myself in every way possible. After graduating
high school I took the A.N.A.’s correspondence courses in coin grading, counterfeit
detection, and other important areas. I also subscribed to all the coin and currency
publications I could find, receiving six or seven different ones! I read great articles
from authors such as Q. David Bowers who recommend specializing in one or two areas.
I had always had an interest in the American Civil War, so collecting Civil War era
currency was a natural choice. I also discovered obsolete and national bank notes
from my area, Utica, MI. These are quite rare, but I managed to find a few from
Dr. Wallace Lee. Now I was 19 years old and well on my way to being a serious Numismatist.
In order to afford my new specialties in Confederate currency, Civil War Tokens,
and regular issues of coinage from 1861-1865, I would need to sell some of my accumulation.
I had sold some of my coins to local dealers, and even mailed some off to dealers
out of state. But I realized that if I could sell direct to the public, I would make
more money. So I reserved a table at the next local show. I was now a dealer, or
so I thought. I had not realized all the cost involved with being a dealer. I first
had business cards made, $50. I called myself Sheffer’s Coin and Currency. Then
I bought show cases, lights, table fees of about $40 at that time, and gas to get
there. After a few months I had enough and went back to being a collector.
I again tried being a dealer. I had met a lot more dealers, and closely watched how
they conducted business. I had also joined several local and national clubs, and
this put me in contact with potential customers. I once again had business cards
made, and even registered as a business with the county. This time I went by Daniel’s
Coins and Currency. I began buying coins and currency to resell. I started selling
on eBay, and sold at local shows. I did quite well. I had started working as a temporary
clerk at the Post Office in the fall of 2006, but knew this would not last. I had
to turn coin dealing into a full time career. The Post Office would be my source
of income until I got the business going.
People often ask what got me started collecting.
There really is no clear cut answer. I had a few odd coins given to me when I was
young. My older brother dabbled in coins before I got into it. But stories about
my Great Grandfather, Ernest Hack (born Ernest Polczynski, son of Joseph and Valeria
(Pyszora) Polczynski of Detroit, in1889) really sparked my imagination. In 1900,
at the age of 11 he began collecting coins, bank notes, and stamps. His main passion
was obsolete bank notes, of which he had thousands by the late 1950’s. He passed
away in 1971, before I was born, but my father would tell me about him. One of the
first stories I recall is how my Great Grandfather had given my dad (Ernest’s grandson),
an 1881 three cent nickel. I knew a “nickel” was worth five cents, but a three cent
nickel? What is that? My father was also given an old book from Ernest, it turns
out it is a 1947, first edition “Red Book” worth a few hundred dollars today!
from my Great Uncles that Ernest had once owned a stamp and coin store in Detroit.
The name was Eagle Stamp and Coin Co. He opened the first shop in 1910, at 1269 Baldwin
Ave. The building burned in 1915, and he moved to Granger St. He closed this store
in 1940. My great uncles told me how my Great Grandfather liked to invent things.
One such invention was putting two buttons in the shop that were hooked up to two
lights upstairs in the living quarters of the building. One light was red, the other
was green. If he needed help waiting on customers, he pushed a button and the green
light came on. If he was getting robbed, he would push the other button and the red
light came on. My Uncle Bob Hack tells this story: “One day us kids were upstairs
playing when the red light came on! We thought “Pa is getting robbed!”, not knowing
what we would do, we ran downstairs, and were relieved to find out Pa had just bumped
the button on accident.”
Learning about him, helped to inspire me to pursue my dream of being a rare coin
dealer. And in January 2007 I did just that. I found a small office, formed an
L.L.C., and yes, had new business cards printed! I was now the proud owner of a real
business, Daniel’s Coins and Currency, L.L.C. I must take a moment to thank my parents,
and all of my great friends in numismatics that supported me in my decision to open
an office, and continue to support me. I could not do it without you! I was blessed
from the beginning. I made my first sale in the office on January 31, 2007 only 15
days after moving in. The sale was over $2,000! In June of 2007, I left the Post
Office to pursue coin dealing full time, and have not looked back since.
a very busy year, as is 2008. But this year I decided I needed to research my Great
Grandfather’s shop. All I had is a name, an address, and some family stories to work
with. One Saturday this June, I decided to type “Eagle Stamp and Coin” into the search
engine on my computer. There were four listings with those words, but one stood out.
An active eBay listing that stated something along these lines “lot of 6 old coin
catalogs…1917 Eagle Stamp and Coin Co. Ernest Hack, Detroit, MI….” Here was a group
of 6 different catalogs from different states, and my grandfather’s catalog was one
of them! I put in a high bid, and waited. I ended up winning the lot for only $5!
I have read old Red Books, and other old catalogs, but the prices in 1917 were really
shocking! I quote a few here: “U.S. Large Cents, Flowing Hair, Reverse Chain 1793
$5.00 to $12.00”, “Small Cents 1856 Flying Eagle $8.00”, “ 1909 Lincoln S Mt. V.D.B.
.15 to .25” , “Silver Dollars, Fillet Head to Left, 1795 $3.00 to $5.00”,
Confederate currency and Obsolete bank notes started around 5 to 10 cents each,
and only the super rare 1861 Confederate notes cost around $20! In all there are
33 pages of stamps, coins from all around the world, currency, and Civil War bullets.
I wish I could own these coins and currency at these prices!
On the back cover of
the catalog is his company logo. I took it to a print shop and had the information
changed to my company information, for my company logo. I’m sure he would be proud
to know that 90 years after he issued his catalog, his great grandson would start
a business and use the same logo, with minor changes.
I am lucky to have these items
that have been passed down from him: A 1947 Red Book, a metal coin cabinet, 1798
large cent, the 1881 three cent piece, low grade, common date wheat cents, Liberty
nickels, Morgan Silver Dollars, and a 1914-D $2.50 gold piece. The quarter eagle
is from the year my grandmother was born, and has been in the family since it was
new. The funny thing about this coin is, had my Great Grandfather bought her an uncirculated
roll of 1914 buffalo nickels, which cost $2 rather than $2.50, the roll would be
worth at least $2,400 (1914-P in MS 60 at $60 per coin, times 40 coins). The quarter
eagle is currently worth about $425. I continue to do further research on Ernest and
his establishment. Learning about my Great Grandfather’s business, from almost a
century ago, inspires me today. This is family history, numismatic history, Michigan
history. Do you have a numismatist in your family? Research them!
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