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Always on the hunt for a lucky penny

By Staff
BAD MONEY n Russell Wiginton likes to collect currency or coins that have printing or minting errors. Wiginton is president of the Meridian Area Coin Club. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
July 16, 2001
People get interested in coin collecting for different reasons.
Lee Davison became interested around 1958 when his son started collecting Mercury dimes.
Later, the Davisons visited a coin show in Memphis. His son wanted to purchase a proof set of coins for $11.50.
Surprise find
The discovery of a $100 Confederate bill in an old scrapbook got Russell Wiginton interested in coin collecting about seven years ago.
Wiginton doesn't know where the Confederate note came from, but suspects it once belong to his late stepfather, Keith Wallace. It was still in good shape. He did some research and found that it was a first Confederate issue from 1861.
He took the bill to a collectors' show in Memphis and sold it for $850.
Today, Wiginton focuses on paper money and finding errors in the printing of currency and the minting of coins.
Close eye
Wiginton keeps a close eye on paper money.
For instance, the ink on one bill he found was all green. Another bill had the number printed upside down.
There are also occasional bad folds in the paper and bad cuts, which interest collectors.
Mistakes in the minting of coins can happen, too. Wiginton has examples of pennies which were punched wrong. He has a nickel-sized coin that was punched as a quarter.
Collecting rare dates is another focus of some collectors.
From the past
Modern-day money isn't the only thing that draws interest.
Some collectors search around old homesteads, and even travel to Europe or the Middle East in search of ancient coins.
The key to coin collecting, Wiginton said, is understanding the minting and printing process, and knowing what something is worth. A good primer for coin collectors is "The Red Book." Published annually, it lists values for coins and currency.
For instance, currency collectors like to look at the numbers. If a serial number is all the same, if could be worth something to a collector.
Anyone interested in learning about coin collecting is invited to visit the local club's 37th annual Coin and Currency Show to be held at Howard Johnson Inn Aug. 4-5. For more information, call Blake Rouleau at 626-8805.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at