Kevin Tyler calls coin collecting “the world’s oldest hobby.”
He may be right.
After all, the earliest known currency was struck around 211 B.C.
“They were very crude looking and pounded on a rock,” Tyler said.
The Harrisburg Coin Club isn’t quite that old. It was founded in March 1950 and incorporated in November 1966.
Currently, the club comprises 30 members and meets monthly for numismatic trivia quizzes, member presentations and auctions, show and tell, and hands-on numismatic activities. It also holds yearly picnics in June, holiday gatherings in December and, perhaps most importantly, the annual September coin show.
And, this year, for the first time in its 59-year history, the Harrisburg Coin Show has been expanded into a two-day event instead of just one, and it takes place in a new venue. This year’s event is scheduled for Sept. 28 and 29 at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Harrisburg, a change from its previous location of Linglestown Fire Company #1.
“The nice thing is that we moved the show closer to Harrisburg. We are the capital city’s coin show,” Harrisburg Coin Club President Dan Nettling said. “We wanted to change it to a two-day show because our dealers wanted it. We have one dealer who comes all the way from Watertown, N.Y. Others come from Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and from all over Pennsylvania.”
In total, the show will feature more than 70 display tables, three coin grading companies, a live online auction, and a new Harrisburg Kidz Korner with free T-shirts, games and a “table with a big pile of pennies” for children to peruse, said club Vice President Kevin Tyler, who also handles the club’s public relations and marketing.
The club is focusing on attracting more young people to the annual show because “coin collecting has always been more of a mature hobby due to costs,” Tyler noted.
“That’s the misrepresentation, that has to be an expensive hobby,” he said. “Youths can collect coins that are in circulation. We want to get the youths involved. We’re an educational, nonprofit organization. We believe in teaching the history of numismatics.”
Like many collectors, Tyler’s interest was sparked at an early age.
“I was born and raised in Gettysburg,” he said. “My first coins were Eisenhower dollars that a personal friend of my family gave to me when I was 2 years old. I’m very passionate about the Lincoln cents because Lincoln has always been associated with Gettysburg.”
Nettling said he’s also attracted to “the historical aspects” of coin collecting.
“I’m a historian,” he said. “I collect both coins and medals that commemorate something historic.”
Nettling has been a member of the Harrisburg Coin Club since 1963, or as he put it, “for most of my life.”
The Oberlin native started collecting coins as a student at Swatara Junior High and continued the hobby into adulthood. When he left the area for 25 years for college and the military, his parents made sure to acquire local medals for him that were stuck during that period.
The Harrisburg Coin Club strikes its own limited-edition medals that commemorate various years of its coin show runs. For its first show in 1963, the club minted a silver medal depicting the state Capitol building on one side and the Rockville Bridge on the flip side. In 2006, the club designed a coin that celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Capitol building. The 100th anniversary of St. Patrick’s Cathedral was commemorated in 2007.
For 2019, the club is minting coins featuring a 57th-year design on one side and a depiction of the Scottish Rite Cathedral on the opposite side. The edition is limited to a run of 300 with sequential numbering struck on the side of each coin.
“There’s so much to learn with coins and coin collecting,” Nettling concluded. “It’s the world’s oldest hobby.”
The Harrisburg Coin Show is scheduled for Sept. 28 to 29 at Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, 2701 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 28 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 29. Early bird passes also are available. For information, visit www.harrisburgcoinclub.com.
The Harrisburg Coin Club meets the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Steelton-Swatara Masonic Lodge, 350 N. Harrisburg St. (state Route 441), Oberlin.