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Coin Collectors Gather for Expo

March 25, 2000|KARIMA A. HAYNES

Collectors hovered over gleaming glass cases filled with coins and bills. Dealers rattled off mint dates and dollar values. Novices tried to distinguish rare collectibles from common currency.

These coin enthusiasts gathered Friday for Coin/Expo Valley, a three-day exhibition of coins and bills from ancient civilizations through modern times that ends Sunday.

The items on display in a hall at St. Nicholas Community Center on Ventura Boulevard included ancient Roman and Greek coins, African copper rings, once used as currency during the slave trade, and U.S. silver certificate dollar bills produced in the 1920s before the phrase "In God We Trust" was printed on currency.

Coin collecting exposes enthusiasts to world history, economics, politics, art and culture, organizers said.

"This is one of the last family activities that is inexpensive and fun," said Israel I. Bick, executive director of the International Coin & Stamp Collectors' Society in Van Nuys.

Most children begin their collections with a penny from their birth year and add pennies from years before or after that date, Bick said.

Adult hobbyists often collect coins from the year they were first minted--such as a 1909 Lincoln penny--through the current year, he said. They may also collect coins or bills by theme such as those that incorporate musical instruments, flowers, animals, flags or space exploration into their designs.

Serious collectors, he said, covet $20 gold pieces minted in 1927 that are currently valued at $425, double-struck 1955 Lincoln pennies worth about $500 or the new 2000 pure silver dollar that sells for $13 but could increase in value over time.

"There is a certain luster to gold and silver coins that has been around since the world began," Bick said. "Anything with an intrinsic value is worth collecting."

Information about the exhibition is available by calling (818) 997-6496.

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