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How it all got started.

Tom Becker

Perhaps the greatest stimulus to collect coins was the invention and mass distribution of the extremely popular Whitman Publishing Co coin albums. I believe these albums first appeared shortly after WWII. For the first time the average person could easily find and affordably purchase a handy little folder that prompted them to sort what was previously stored in an old purse, Piggy bank, or Mason jar. The albums instantly provided continuity and order to what had often been a random accumulation of coins. The accumulator became a collector with a purpose-fill all the inviting empty spaces in the album.

Using myself as an typical filler of vacant holes in blue albums, I quickly learned the project wasn't going to simply be a matter of sorting through enough pocket change until I was able to locate all the coins I needed. About that same time, I discovered an appliance store where the seller of washing machines and stoves also provided customers with a display case full of coins for sale. In that display I saw many of the coins I needed to fill holes in my albums along with types I had never seen before.

That night, while tossing and turning, I pondered the important question that had to trouble anyone who began collecting coins by purchasing a Whitman coin folder. Should I be content with my collection knowing I'd been able to fill most of the holes or should I pay somebody ten cents to buy their penny?

I gave in and bought a coin for more than face value. In fact, I bought three coins. Falling prey to a sales pitch, I exchanging fifty cents for two cents and a nickel. What the heck, if you are going to make a fool of yourself you might as well go all the way.

I placed the coins in my blue folders. This did little to eliminate the strong buyer's remorse I was feeling. I had been brought up to be thrifty, wise and cautious. I had broken all the rules.

All that changed when a collector friend came over to the house and we compared Blue Folders. “Where did you get that one?” he asked.

At the risk of exposing a dark side of my character I'd prefer no one to see, I'll now admit to telling a technical lie. “I found it,” I said, knowing my friend wouldn't think I was referring to the appliance store display case.

“I sure would like to have it,” he said.

“I know,” I said. “It fits right between the two coins everyone can find. It's like the hole looks bigger but when you find the right coin it fits right in.”

“Can we trade?” he asked.

“No, but I might sell it to you for fifty cents,” I replied.

I guess it was then I knew I'd end up a coin dealer.


Tom Becker is a regular contributor to the Canadian Coin Reference Site, you can direct your questions directly to Tom easily by or visit Tom's website @


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