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Coin collection began one penny at a time

Pat Janes started collecting coins while in grade school, and now considers his collection to be a lasting legacy for his grandchildren. Contributed photo


Pat Janes, now 75, grew up on Hannibal’s South Side, where his parents, Frank and Martha, operated Union Bar in the 500 block of Union.

Typical of the 1960s era, Pat spent much of his boyhood on the old Stowell School playground, “but my mother thought it would be beneficial if I (also) had a hobby.

“My mother was real careful about savings,” he said. “As the coins came through the cash register, she would pull out Indian pennies, buffalo nickels and mercury dimes.

“She got me started collecting. We went to a local book store and bought a coin book. We’d go through the change, until we found a penny that belonged” in a designated slot.

“Once or twice a week I’d get on a bicycle and go to Hannibal National Bank. I’d buy 500 pennies, pick out one or two that I needed, then I took the rest back to the bank.

“I graduated from ninth grade in 1962 or 63, and my mother and my brother went together to buy me the last penny to fill my book.” They paid $100 for that penny,  “which was a lot for my family at that time.”

While he did collect larger coins, “quarters and half dollars were almost out of reach,” Janes said.

He stayed with coin collecting until he was about 18. “Then it was college, back home, I went to work as a school teacher, married, had small children, and there was no money to speak of” to spend on his coin collection.

In the 1980s, “I went back to my coin collection, took them apart, sold (the coins), all but the penny my mother gave me.”

He started attending coin shows in St. Louis, “buying whatever I could afford.”

The existing coin club in Hannibal was just about to disband. Pat attended a meeting, to see what was going to happen. “I raised my hand and became president that night.

“We revitalized the club, and now we average 20 or 30 members at our local meeting and auction.”

The club meets on the third Tuesday of every month, at the Bank of Hannibal, located at the intersection of U.S. 36 and 61.

Prior to the meeting, members bring in the coins they want to sell, and an email goes out to 50 or 100 people on the mailing list. Following a short business meeting, there is an auction where people can bid and buy coins.

The club’s annual coin show is in April at the American Legion Hall. There are typically 30 to 35 dealers from the Midwest in attendance.

“It is growing every year,” Janes said. In addition, last fall, JP’s Corner in Monroe City sponsored a fall coin show in Monroe City.

Coin collecting “is still thriving,” Janes said. “but we have a hard time getting young people involved.”


A number of years ago, a fellow school teacher asked him to help him with an inherited coin collection.

“I told him I know enough to keep him from getting hurt.”

When Janes arrived at this man’s house, there was a table full of old coins, and one silver dollar, in a small brown envelope.

Janes went through the Indian head pennies and gold coins, before he looked at the silver dollar. 

It turns out that the silver dollar was one of the most rare of its kind.

Janes sent him to St. Louis to ensure the coin’s authenticity.  He told his friend that the dealer would offer him money for the coin, then asked him to let him have a chance to purchase it at the dealer’s price.

“It cost me $2,000 to buy that coin. If it had not had an S on the back, it would have been worth $20. I was honest enough to pay him what the coin is worth.”

Janes continues to appraise coin collections. “One local banker had a box of foreign coins. Generally, they’re not worth a lot of money. But one was a $5 gold piece. He was a little bit surprised. Had I not told him what he had, he would have missed it.”

A legacy

Pat and Jill Janes have eight grandchildren, ranging in age from 9 to 20. This Christmas each of those grandchildren will receive a coin-related gift in their stocking.

Pat Janes considers the coins he has collected throughout the years to be an investment, and his intended beneficiaries are those grandchildren.

“Why not enjoy giving” the coins to the grandchildren “when I can still enjoy giving them?” he said.

Over the years he has graded and certified his coin collection, and he has the collection divided into eight fairly equal bundles.

One of his grandchildren will be the recipient of that rare silver dollar, he said.

Mary Lou Montgomery retired from the Hannibal Courier-Post in 2014, after 39 years as a community journalist.


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