Coins galore draw collectors to the mall

Don Heck, of Fort Dodge, was spending a fair amount of his day Saturday hunched over tables covered with albums full of coins – magnifying loupe in hand – looking for specimens to add to his collection.

He brought to the annual Fort Dodge Coin Club’s Coin Show at the Crossroads Mall a list of what he was searching for. The club is celebrating its 50th anniversary, which makes the club older than Heck, their treasurer.

Some collectors specialize in a certain types of coin; Heck has a simple criteria for what he likes.

“Flat and round,” he said, “I like a little bit of everything.”

There are many things he enjoys about the hobby.

“I like the history,” he said. “The thrill of the chase and the design -they’re almost like little pieces of artwork.”

He’s also learned that they come in a wide variety of the color “coin.”

“They pick up tones,” he said. “There’s a rainbow of colors.”

That comes from age, variations in the alloy, environmental exposure and even the lighting in the room he said.

His two sons, Cayden Heck, 13, and Jackson Heck, 12, are both collectors too. Cayden attended the show with his dad to add to his own collection.

Like most brothers, there is just a little rivalry.

“I probably have him beat,” Cayden Heck said.

He is fond of the Mercury dimes, a coin he said was minted from 1916 to 1945, and the V nickel, a 5-cent piece that featured a large V, the Roman numeral for five.

They were made from 1883 to 1912.

For Don Heck, one of those V nickels would be his ultimate find.

“A 1913 V nickel – that’s like a million dollar nickel,” he said.

So how is a 1913 coin possible from a series that officially ended in 1912 possible? He said they were made but never released – officially.

“As many as five got through,” he said.

For Cayden Heck, it’s the 1916 Mercury dime from the Denver Mint that’s at the top of his list. A prime example can sell for thousands.

Rodger Tveiten, owner of Rodger Tveiten Coins & Stamps, deals mostly in foreign coins. It’s a specialty area that only a few collectors concentrate on.

Tveiten buys up many of his foreign coins while on overseas trips. It’s not unusual for him to bring them back by the pound. He said he gets little or no grief while going through security.

“It doesn’t bother them a bit,” he said.

He said he can often buy the coins here in the states for quite a bit less than what they would be worth in their country of origin.

“You can buy a Deutsche mark for about 25 cents,” he said.

He can still redeem old Deutsche mark coins – in Germany.

It becomes his spending money while vacationing.

“I have taken forty pounds of Deutsche marks to Germany at a time,” he said.

Darrell Satern, of Rutland, attended the show with his grandson, Fletcher Rutland, 11.

The pair will often work on their collections together.

Fletcher Rutland is learning about history through the coins, he said he didn’t know that pennies were once about twice the size they are now until he started collecting when he was 8.

He’s also learned a bit about inflation – compared to his grandfather’s youth.

“It’s cool how back then you could buy stuff for less money,” he said.

Tom Hemann, of Fort Dodge, had a lot of coins come and go in his own youth when he had a paper route. Even then, he would look them over to see if some should be saved.

Some though, he spent.

“You didn’t even have a thought about the value,” he said. “If I had just kept some of them.”

He’s still an active collector; he was attending the show to socialize and “shop a little.”

Visitors can even travel a bit without going too far from home, especially if they listen to the parting words of Rodger Tveiten to a customer who had just purchased a selection of foreign coins.

“You came to the Crossroad Mall and you took a trip around the world,” he said.

The show continues today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.