People come from around the globe to see what came from the Carson Mint
Appeal Staff Writer
By 2 p.m. Saturday more than 600 people from Virginia City to St. Petersburg – Russia – entered the doors of the Nevada State Museum to barter, tell ghost stories and listen to tall tails of the Old West.
From erudite consumers to boisterous bargain hunters, the enthusiasts shared one common love.
The love of money.
No, these aren’t your ribald gambling types, or your rip-roaring out till 6 a.m. conventioneers. The folks gathered Saturday at the museum are numismatists – coin collectors.
And while they may prefer talk of rare-coin dealer John Feigenbaum’s recent trek from Oakland to Manhattan to deliver a dime minted in San Francisco in 1894, to the whir and jingle of a slot machine – the clinking of coins is definitely music to the ears of this crowd one dealer said.
“It’s not the biggest show by any means,” said Folsom Calif.-based coin dealer Tim Eniex. “But by far – it’s the best. You see the people here, they come from all walks, they have all types of interests. But there’s something here that brings them back, year after year.
“… It brings me back.”
For some, like coin dealer cum author Rusty Goe, who signed copies of his new book, “James Crawford: Master of the Mint at Carson City – A Short, Full Life,” the annual show is a way to showcase Northern Nevada.
“I say this to almost everyone I meet no matter where they’re from,” said Goe, whose specs slipped down to the bridge of his nose as he looked every bit the part of a thoughtful scribe. “Nevada is such a wonderful place, filled with all types. No where else will you see a better reflection of this than here.”
Goe’s nod to the coin show being Northern Nevada’s most egalitarian late-summer pilgrimage may have been a slight to those driving their painted RVs through the center of town en route to the Black Rock desert, but Goe said the journey to the coin show is for a different kind of reveler.
“Just good people, that’s who’s here,” said Carson City resident Paula Stevens, who’s lived here since 1971 and was picking up a signed copy of Goe’s second novel. “I’m not really here for the coins per say, but I’ve really gotten into Nevada history and it’s so fascinating.”
Goe, speaking to Stevens directly, caught the attention of a half-dozen others clutching books in a queue and listening in. He told of how Carson City almost got its status of state capital taken away in the ’30s.
“In 1880, there were about 8,000 people here,” Goe said. “By 1930, that number dropped to 1,500. I’m so glad they didn’t move the capital to Las Vegas – can you imagine that?”
Goe also said the Carson City Mint, by far the smallest of the nine in the U.S., also almost got lured away to Reno during its heyday of the 1860s.
“Then you’d be seeing coins with an ‘R’ on them – can you imagine that?” Goe said to a chorus of laughter.
The talking about the coins that come from the Carson City Mint is no laughing matter to collectors, one dealer said.
“People do love talking about their ‘CC’ coins,” said Amy Williams from Reno’s Southgate Coins. “And they know a lot. A lot. Sometimes I just sit here and listen. It’s amazing.”
Nathaniel Goldstein, who makes the trip to Carson City annually with his mother, Andrea, from Cambridge, Mass., said it is his love for the “CC” coins as well as the backstory he found that accompanies them that will always make Northern Nevada his first and only love in the coin world.
“The coins drew me into the history,” he said. “And now the history draws me back for the coins. It’s great – don’t you think?”
If you go
What: 15th annual Carson City Mint Coin Show
When: 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. today
Where: Nevada State Museum, 600 N. Carson St.
Prizes: Of the 30 dealers participating in this year’s show, nearly all have donated one or more prizes for a raffle.
• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.