See pennies worth hundreds of dollars at Monroeville coin show this weekend |
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Michael DiVittorio

Pennies are worth more than one cent to coin collectors like Blaine Shiff.

Some can be worth as much as $500.

“They’re jewels of art and history with investment potential,” said Shiff, 57, of the South Hills.

Shiff is the chairman of the 40th annual PAN Coin Show and Convention, taking place at the Monroeville Convention Center this weekend. PAN stands for the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists, an educational nonprofit organization with around 800 members nationwide. Approximately 100 vendors and collectors have set up shop in the center. Some are from West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland.

One of Shiff’s favorite coins is a 1924 Mercury dime. It features the face of Lady Liberty with wings by her ears.

“This is my favorite coin for the symbolism, because I think the idea of freedom of thought is a uniquely American symbol,” he said.

Shiff’s love of coin collecting began while at his father’s coin shop in the South Hills Village more than four decades ago.

“Since I was in about second grade (I’ve been) helping out doing stuff,” he said. “I worked for a dollar a day. I was hanging out with my dad.”

Ted Shiff, Blaine’s father, said he started the business in the 1950s while working for Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. He said he would sometimes buy and sell coins on his lunch hour.

“I enjoy the challenges of coins,” Ted Shiff said.

His sons run the business now. The family has more than 15,000 different pieces in their collection, which is available to view at

At the convention, which runs until Saturday, there are U.S.-minted coins from as far back as 1793 and early forms of paper money from 1776. Some displays feature ancient Greek and Roman coins valued in the hundreds and thousands of dollars.

Vendors are happy to talk about the evolution of coins, such as how the United States stopped using silver in them in 1971. Coins are history, the Blaine Shiff said.

“Pittsburgh’s rich with history, and numismatics have been an integral part of that,” Shiff said. “We have coins that could have been in George Washington’s pocket in the 1790’s. We have coins that Alexander the Great could have touched.”

Numismatics is the study of currency, including coins and paper money. Coin collectors are often called numismatics.

“It’s not all buying and selling,” said Patrick McBride, show coordinator and PAN board member. “It’s about learning.”

McBride said coin collecting is a hobby for everyone, particularly those seeking new interests.

“If you can’t play football or play a musical instrument, then this hobby is for you,” McBride said.

The exhibits are not all coins and currency. The 1715 Fleet Society have a display of items recovered from Spanish shipwrecks found on the east coast of Florida between Sebastian and Fort Pierce. Items include pieces of eight, gold and ammunition.

Bob Evans , chief scientist and historian of America’s richest shipwreck, the S.S. Central America, will talk about his findings Friday and Saturday afternoon as part of a lecture series.

PAN was founded in 1978 for the purpose of promoting the hobby of coin collecting through coin shows, lectures, seminars, a published journal and electronic newsletter.

More information about PAN and the coin show is available at

What: PAN Fall Coin Show and Convention

Where: Monroeville Convention Center,

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Cost: Free admission

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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