PERRY -- To those who think that coin collecting is a quaint hobby of yesteryear, this weekend’s Middle Georgia Coin and Currency Show at the Georgia National Fairgrounds told a different story.
Between 5,000 and 7,000 attended the 50th edition of the show, some to see what was available for purchase and some to see what the value was for the coins they brought in to be evaluated.
“We sponsor the show to promote the hobby of coin collecting,” said Bill Lane, chairman of the Middle Georgia Coin Club, which sponsored the show. “We’re here to inform, to teach. We have free identification and appraisals.”
The event, which closed Sunday, featured dealers from states as far away as Ohio, Michigan and Texas, Lane said. One dealer even came in from Puerto Rico.
And while coins and antique money were the primary draws, there were also booths for stamp collecting, old posters, pins and even framed butterflies.
Don Smith, of Macon, took his 13-year-old son Heyward to the show for the seventh or eighth straight year. Each goes to the show for a different reason: Don Smith prefers to look at foreign coins, especially those minted during a war, while his son collects $2 bills.
“They don’t make that many more of them,” Heyward Smith said. “They’re kind of rare. I like the uniqueness.”
Smith ended up with four $2 bills purchased from various booths at the show. He has about 50 total in his collection, including an uncut sheet of $2 bills.
Don Smith said he likes the idea of collecting coins that may have been held by soldiers in World War I or World War II.
“It’s kind of interesting,” he said.
On the flip side, John Quackenbush, of Bishop, said his reasons for attending such shows are practical -- with the national economy slumping during the past four years, he’s there to buy pure gold and silver.
“I had some old coins worth $1,600 that I traded in for junk silver,” he said.
He did so because “it’s real silver. The other coins were from the Seoul Olympics and didn’t really mean anything to me.”
Quackenbush said he has been actively buying gold and silver, because they maintain their value. He’s worried that America may face increasing inflation with the Treasury actively printing more money.
“I’m not really into rare coins,” he said. “I’m interested in the metal.”
Jeff Burnett, of Ashland, Ohio, is a dealer in rare military and political posters and buttons. He said it’s the second straight year he has set up a booth in Perry.
“It’s a very nice facility, it’s well-run and it’s a big crowd,” he said. “I’m always surprised by the number of people who come through. Between Atlanta and Florida, this is really the only place in-between that’s well-established. ... It’s a very relaxing show -- it’s must more casual than a regular antiques show.”
Burnett said he sold a series of old military posters to someone from Warner Robins who plans to put them up in seven different storefronts in that city.
“It’s nice to see people put them to use,” Burnett said. “You never know who is going to walk in (to the show) and what’s walking in.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.