ASTORIA — Scott McClaine spent decades collecting coins. When he had to close his shop in 2013, he prayed the right opportunity would allow him to start again. In June, McClaine celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony and the official grand opening of Clatsop Coin at 205 12th St. Astoria.

The business buys, sells and offers an assessment of coins and currency.

Vast coin inventory

There may be an ongoing coin shortage nationwide, but not in McClaine’s shop. McClaine estimates he has more than 40,000 coins in his inventory overall, including about 27,000 one-cent pieces.

But he can still recall the first coin he found.

“It was 1968 and I was living with my dad. We needed to move a couch and my hand went down inside the pocket and I found a Franklin 50-cent piece. I ran down to the coin shop (that was about eight blocks away) and the guy gave me 55 cents for it,” McClaine recalled. He was hooked ever since.

Coin collecting among oldest hobbies

Coin collecting and the study of coins and currency, or numismatics, is among the oldest hobbies, dating to Ancient Rome.

“It’s fun. Numismatics is the hobby of kings, so they say, ” McClaine said.

The majority of McClaine’s collection consists of pennies and American Silver Eagles.

“I have several hundred one-ounce American Silver Eagles. They have a face value of $1, but they’re worth $26, just all depends what the price of silver is and what the premium is. Right now the premium on silver is tremendous. Most governments have a silver and gold product. The U.S. calls them Eagles, Canada calls them Maple Leafs, England calls them Sovereigns.”

Coins from certain years are more valuable than others, McClaine explained.

“Quarters from 1964 and before are 90% silver. Half dollars between 1965 and 1970 are 40% silver.”

Prices often fluctuate with the value of precious metals. McClaine purchases coins using a predetermined formula.

“I usually pay three points back from spot. Spot is the melt value. If a dime is worth $1.23, I’ll give them 93 cents for it. Then I’ll bulk them up and pay for somebody to come by and wholesale them out,” McClaine said.

McClaine also carries Morgan silver dollars, as well as proof and mint sets. The collectible coins in proof sets used to be popular in years past.

Misconceptions about coins abound, often resulting from coin sets purchased from national TV and magazine advertisements.

“Proof coins are pressed more to give a nice finish, come in pretty packaging and are sold for way over value. People back in the '60s and '70s bought a lot,” McClaine said.

“My favorite is the commemorative half dollar, which started in 1892,” he said.

The oldest coins in his collection are from the early 1800s, including one-cent Indian head coins from the 1850s.

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