MARSHALL - Part of Glenn Jones' massive coin collection was on display Monday at the Adult Community Center in Marshall.
"Fantastic," said visitor Neil Bengtson. "I've never seen so many coins. I've got coins, too, but not anything like this."
There were about 2,000 coins on the tables from many countries and eras.
The oldest was an Egyptian coin from the Ayyubid Dynasty, struck in 1275. There was a 1924 silver zloty from the Polish second Republic, and a 1947 50 centavo piece bearing the likeness of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the only American image in the display. Though Jones does have American coins in his collection, he prefers international coins.
"The reason I like world coins is their engraving and artwork make ours look drab," Jones said. "American coins, the old stuff before the 1900s, is nice stuff. I've got a lot of early half-cent and large cents. The last were minted in 1857."
Jones said he got started collecting coins in the '50s when he was in Japan during the Korean war.
"You ever hear of the Ginza?" Jones said. "That's four square miles in downtown Tokyo and if it's made in the world, it's there."
Jones started his collection by buying some old bronze coins for about 1,000 yen, and found out when he got home they were worth a lot more than he paid for them to some collectors. In the '50s he expanded his collection by going to the bank and buying the parking meter change from when Marshall had meters.
"I used to go through it and find tons and tons of stuff," Jones said. "I even found a $3 gold piece someone had stuffed into a parking meter."
Most of the coins are in mint condition, many uncirculated.
But the pride of his collection is not exactly a coin at all. Jones showed a copper medallion bearing the likeness of King George V of Great Britain on one side, and St. George and the Dragon on the other, that Jones bought from a dealer in New York.
"This is a very unusual coin," Jones said. "When they make the dies they make a proof coin of copper or bronze to check the engraving before they make thousands of silver coins. Some get out and some don't. If I can prove it's an original pattern coin, the sky's the limit."
According to Jones, finding collectable coins has been getting harder since stocks and 401K accounts have taken a beating, and many people have chosen to invest in something more substantial. His collection is for his three children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. His son is an avid coin collector also, and his daughter, Brenda Prellwitz, helps him when he displays parts of the collection when he needs to transport coins from their secure storage location.
"It keeps him busy, and keeps his mind going," Prellwitz said.