Coins have fascinated people for generations. The disks of precious metal carry dates, portraits and references to every aspect of history.
And their value increases over time – unless the coins are current currency.
“I look at a coin and think, if only it could talk,” said Christopher ‘Chris’ Crister, owner of Christopher’s Coins located at 76 Chestnut St. “Look at this U.S. coin – our country had not been in existence very long – I wonder where it has been — what it bought — who held it.”
Crister was referring to a well-worn, but completely recognizable 1802 silver dollar he took out of his coin case Thursday. Lady Liberty was bustier than the modern version, and the coin larger than those jingling in blue jeans today.
As a child Crister began collecting coins. He would go through change tossed from his parent’s pockets and buy pennies at the bank, looking for rare or interesting coins. In 1999, Crister began selling some of his collection on Ebay. He also began buying coins.
“And then I started going to shows, and people got to know me,” Crister said. “In 2001, I got my business license in Idaho and opened a retail store.”
Crister met his wife, Rita Crister, and moved to her hometown of Oneonta in 2005. He opened his first store at a different location on Chestnut Street. Crister said when the lease was up at that location in 2009, he moved to his current space.
Thursday afternoon several customers walked into the store looking at coins, jewelry and other items.
A family with two children came to look at coins. Rita Crister greeted the children at the door and offered them two small items to take for free.
“I like to give them something out of the 25-cent box,” Rita Crister said. “It keeps them occupied so the parents can look around, and you don’t know, the children might be interested in coins.”