Gary Bruchman of Kenosha is a self-described coin junkie. He has been collecting since he was a child and loves the history that goes with collecting coins. He often wonders where they have been before going through his hands, like the 1866 2-cents piece that he recently acquired.
Q. How did you get started?
A. I started being a coin collector, or numismatist, when I was in first or second grade. Somehow my stepdad got us into it. But then during middle school (through) college, I didn't do anything with it. I got back into it (after college). I don't know if I saw some coins on eBay, or an ad in the paper or something, but something spurred me. and I jumped in gung-ho. Ten years later, I am probably upwards of 10,000 (coins).
They are buried in my backyard, … kidding! They are in a safety deposit box.
Q. So this is a family tradition?
A. I guess it has been running in the family; I never really thought about it like that. If we ever have kids, I plan on passing it on. Right now I am pushing it on my brother's kids. My nieces and nephews usually get some kind of coinage at Christmas time.
"Ooo, how exciting is that; Uncle Gary is giving us more stupid coins." I figure that is what they think. I hope that is not what they think. I hope they like it.
I made them wooden boxes (with) their name on it in their favorite color. I said, "Every time I give you guys something, you put it in your box so you keep it all together, and you know that you don't ever spend the stuff I give you."
Q. What type of coins do you collect?
A. When I buy coins, I am basically looking for U.S. coins. I am more into silver coins. Your coin collection is worth more if they are silver, but then you have some pennies, some nickels, that if the year is a better year, they are worth considerably more.
Q. Any advice to people wanting to start this hobby?
A. If they want to start, do start, don't be afraid of the expensive coins, just start out with the inexpensive coins. Get yourself a little Whitman book, Blue Book, you can do pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars, dollars. Just jump in, don't be afraid and eventually, you'll get the nice coins.
Q. You also collect silver housewares?
A. I do. I have a few things. I always look for rings and necklaces at estate sales, sometimes give them away for present to my nieces at Christmas time or their birthdays.
Q. How do you check silver items?
A. Usually, somewhere on your object there will be a maker. So if it is real silver it should say somewhere on your object either sterling or 925, which means 925 parts out of 1,000 parts are silver. The other 75 parts are copper to help it hold together.
Q. Not only do you collect but you also appraise coins, right?
A. I do. I'll appraise them. I'll write what every coin is worth. I don't charge a lot. I enjoy looking at the coins. Hopefully, the people will let me buy their coins, but if they just want to know what they are worth, I am cool with that too.
Bruchman can be contacted for appraisals at 847-863-6647.
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