News Column

Money helps educate during National Coin Week

April 27, 2014

By Debbie Kelley, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

April 27--Eleven-year-old Hailey Edwards got richer on Saturday. She won a buffalo nickel, a kit to help her build a collection of redesigned state quarters and a 2014 Kennedy half-dollar.

Isaiah Large, 9, tried his luck at searching for a gold coin hidden in a treasure chest and fished out a wheat penny instead. He wasn't at all disappointed. Isaiah and his brother, Jordan, collect pennies.

"They are sometimes pretty and shiny," 7-year-old Jordan said.

"They are made at three mints, in Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco," Isaiah chimed in.

It was all about the money during the local observance of National Coin Week.

Held at the Money Museum, at the American Numismatic Association's headquarters at 818 N. Cascade Ave., the day included a variety of free activities and prizes for children and adults to mark the 91st annual event, held every year during the third week in April.

Craig Ruppert, a retired carpenter, took home a commemorative pewter coin he watched being made in a "mini mint" setup.

"I knew there was some cool stuff in here. I just didn't know what until today," said Ruppert, who has lived in Colorado Springs for 50 years.

Like some who attended the event, it was his first visit to the Money Museum.

It won't be his last.

"This is outstanding -- extremely informative and interesting," he said. "I'd recommend it to anyone who's interested in history and the way things were done in ancient times."

This year's National Coin Week theme, "Coin and Country: Celebrating Civic Service," was selected in honor of President John F. Kennedy, as 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the debut of the Kennedy half dollar, said Andy Dickes, collections manager for the American Numismatic Association.

The nonprofit organization was chartered by Congress in 1912 to encourage people to study and collect money and related items.

After Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, Congress voted to change the half dollar design from Benjamin Franklin's likeness to that of Kennedy's.

The event's theme developed, Dickes said, because Kennedy was known for his comments that encouraged civic service, including his most famous quote from his inauguration speech in 1961, "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

In addition to exhibits featuring some of the rarest U.S. gold coins ever struck, a chronicle of the history of money throughout the world and a look at the currency of the Civil War, the museum had plenty of hands-on kids' stuff, including a historical scavenger hunt and digging for coins in a treasure chest.

"If we get young people thinking about collecting coins, then hopefully we can nurture a lifetime of enjoyment in the hobby," Dickes said.

Danielle Edwards said her 12-yearp-old son, Hunter, told her he was "beautifully inspired" at the event. Enough so to buy a scraping tool to carve hobo nickels, after he watched a demonstration by local businessman Adam Leech.

"I'm going to start doing it as soon as I get home," Hunter said. "I like how you can use modern-day coins to create art."

Hobo nickels are fashioned out of buffalo nickels by scraping the metal and making a new design. "The beautiful thing about hobo nickels is there's no wrong way to do it," Leech said while showing the technique to a crowd.

"That's my style of hobby," said museum visitor Jessica Bauer.

Leech replied: "It's so much fun; if you can imagine it, you can carve it."

Bauer said she had never seen such a thing before.

"It's a very unique art, and there's a lot of history to it. And anybody can do it. That's cool."

The museum is getting ready for a new exhibit, "Treasures of the Deep," which opens June 5 and runs through the fall of 2015. The exhibit will feature artifacts that have been recovered from ocean excavations since the 16th century, including sunken pirate booties and underwater archaeological explorations.

"One of the most effective and interesting ways to view history is through coinage, especially in times when there were no photographs or printing presses," Dickes said. "Coins are some of the best first-hand historical documents we have."


(c)2014 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

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Source: Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO)

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