Card Show Brings Collectors Together

Monday, April 22, 2013
Charlestown — In a middle school gym, two sports memorabilia vendors credited the value of facetime in a market upended by the ubiquity of the Internet in the last two decades.

“I’d rather see a card in person,” said Kevin Dutil, a Claremont resident and regular at the “Twin State Sports Card and Coin” shows. Dutil had just met Robert Tanguay, of Derby, who was at his second card and coin show, which are typically held every other month.

Tanguay said that the emergence of the Internet turned him off from collecting for a while, but then he found out about the Upper Valley emporium.

Throughout yesterday morning and early afternoon, sports memorabilia, coins and other collectibles were piled atop more than 50 tables lining the perimeter of the Charlestown Middle School gym, which was abuzz with a marketplace feel.

“I like talking to people, meeting people,” said Tanguay.

Dutil pointed out that the value of dealing “person to person, card to card,” in the arena of sports memorabilia, was both social and practical. It’s easier to get a better price in person, and to inspect the condition of a card, he explained.

While the Internet casts a wider net in terms of selection, Dutil said dishonesty runs rampant in online transactions.

That sentiment that was echoed by coin trade enthusiasts at yesterday’s event, such as Donald Loudon, a dealer, who said he has been to more than 50 coin shows in his 50-plus years collecting currency.

Loudon cautioned 18-year-old Joe Sweeney, a Hartford High School senior, to be wary of fakes.

To his credit, Sweeney showed off his own knowledge of currency when the two of them discussed “peace dollars,” early 20th century dollar coins that were the last of its kind to be struck for circulation in silver.

Sweeney outlined each year in which the coins were minted, notating a brief hiatus as well. He said he has been a coin collector since he was about 10 years-old, when his dad took him to a coin shop.

“I just got back into it,” Sweeney said. “Spring break did that to me.”

For Sweeney, the appeal of collecting coins is both in the feeling of “completeness” he gets from assembling a whole collection, and how “really old things can look like they were just made yesterday.”

“Wheat pennies can be found in your change every day,” he said, referring to the iconic penny from the early to mid 1900s that featured two wheat ears and the words “one cent” in large typeface.

Wheat pennies are usually worth about 3 to 4 cents, but can range up to $10 or more, depending on age, condition, and other factors, according to the website cointrackers.com.

Loudon said it wasn’t rare to run into 18-year-olds who are passionate about coin collecting. He estimated it was rarer to find an 18-year-old who was a fan of The Beatles, because “coins are eternal.”

“There’s always another coin,” Loudon said. “There will never be another Beatles.”

The sports card and coin shows have been ongoing in the Valley for about three years, said event organizer and dealer Jim Younce, 32, of Charlestown, who works as a cook at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Sporting a Red Sox jersey and speaking passionately about the team’s strong start his team this season, it was clear where Younce’s loyalties were in major league baseball and the sports world.

He said that his shows often feature a retired athlete who is there to sign autographs.

Younce said former Red Sox hurler Dennis Ray “Oil Can” Boyd has signed autographs at the sports card and coin show, which he described as the largest of its kind in Vermont and New Hampshire.

The next show, which he said was going to be in the same venue in mid-June, is likely to feature former Boston Celtic Satch Sanders.

Ben Conarck can be reached at bconarck@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.