Numismatic 2_13_14

Vallejo coin collector Michael S. Turrini photographed through the hole of a stone which was used as currency on the Micronesian island of Yap. The photo was taken inside the association's library in Vallejo. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)


It’s not just about the jingle when it comes to coin collecting

By From page B10 | February 15, 2014

FAIRFIELD — It’s not all about the metal, precious or otherwise, when it comes to coin collecting.

Possess some Yap stone money and you can buy, say, a woman. Or you could have if you lived on Yap Island, in the western Pacific Ocean, a long time ago.

Michael Stephen Turrini, a Vallejo coin collector, proved with his two Yap stones that coin collectors aren’t just looking for the small coins that jingle in a pocket or slide neatly into a specialized holder.

His two pieces of circular stone currency with holes in the center are about a foot in diameter and weigh between 23 and 30 pounds each – small compared to some that weigh as much as a car.

According to an article written by Michael Bryan of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in 2005, the stones were made from limestone, which isn’t indigenous to Yap but rather came from Palau, about 250 miles southwest.

It all makes for a good “show and tell” or conversation starter, which is one of the reasons Turrini not only collects coins but belongs to 40 clubs throughout Canada and the United States, including the Vallejo Numismatic Society.

“It’s the coins that bring you in,” said the retired Will C. Wood High School drafting teacher. But when he goes to coin shows and various coin club meetings, it’s the friends he’s made that keep him going.

“It’s a friendship,” Turrini said. “You get to meet people. The vast majority of friends I’ve made and my mentors are from the coin hobby.”

That’s sort of how he met up with Lloyd Chan, a science teacher at Wood and a fellow coin collector. Chan said he’s not in near as many coin clubs as Turrini, but takes an annual trip with him to a coin event in Canada. Like Turrini, Chan has been collecting for decades but said he didn’t become an “organized” collector until he met his friend at Wood.

Also like Turrini, he doesn’t expect his collection to be the jingle of typical coins of today – he gravitates toward ancient coins. And he means ancient. He has some dating back to 300 BC. His collection, he said, allows him to mix two passions, that of coin and history.

“I’ve always been a student of history,” he said. “A coin is a tangible aspect of that history. Where else can you find a 2,500-year-old piece of history?”

While Chan doesn’t have a favorite piece in his collection, Turrini has a couple: The peace dollar, minted during the 1920s, and Canadian silver dollars. Aside from his Yap money, he also has some interesting Swedish copper plate money, also known as the riksdaler or just daler.

“Some of them are big,” Turrini said. “I could go on for hours about things you can collect other than silver dollars and Lincoln cents.”

A time to check out various coinage would be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 4 during the 42nd annual Vallejo Coin Show at the Vallejo Veterans Memorial Building, 420 Admiral Callaghan Lane.

After a 10-year hiatus, the California State Numismatic Association is having its 132nd Annual Convention and Coin Show July 12-13, also at the veterans building.

For more information on local coin clubs, go to solanocoinclub.com.

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.


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