One Naperville resident has turned his life-long hobby into a business that’s literally worth its weight in gold. James Sego has been collecting hundreds of silver and gold coins since he was about five years old.
“What I liked about coins is it’s a hard metal and then in particular when you get into the silver and gold coins, it’s a very tangible asset, and there’s underlying value to it,” he said.
Sego finds most of his coins at collecting shows, which can have as many as 700 different sellers. Some of his coins are more than 100 years old, like one that commemorates the Columbian exposition in Chicago in 1892.
His favorite among his collection is one from 1976, minted in Denver, Colorado, that pays tribute to president Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“It’s a coin I’ve wanted in my collection for years and years and I found this coin about five years ago on a dealer’s table at a show,” said Sego. “The coin’s worth about $50,000. It’s an extremely valuable coin and one that you’d really have to pry out of my hands to buy it.”
Sego’s gained expertise in determining the value of coins and has even become a licensed appraiser.
While there are a number of factors, how old they are, how many were produced, and what shape they’re currently in are the big determinants of their value.
In 1986, Sego decided to turn his hobby into a business, JMS Coins, where he buys and sells coins for a profit.
“In the late 70s, interest rates went crazy and people at that point were saying coins and silver and gold were going to be a great investment,” he said. “I kind of looked at it at 17/18 years old, saying, ‘I’m going to make some money, and that’ll be a fun business to move forward to.’”
Since then, he’s bought and sold coins for hundreds, even thousands of dollars apiece. But at the end of the day, it comes down to sharing a passion with many people around the country.
“Almost everybody knows someone that collects coins,” said Sego. “It’s a great conversation piece, and a lot of coins have a great history as well. So there are a lot of people that have an interest and involved in coin collecting.”
For those that want to get started in collecting, Sego suggests first talking with a dealer and reading a few collecting books.
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