Richard Murachanian says he's an addicted amateur coin dealer, not a pro. But he's had a booth at every Carson City Mint Coin Show since the event began a dozen years ago.
The show is one of the smallest in the nation every year but Murachanian, owner of RAM Rare Coins and Collectibles in Santa Clarita, Calif., says having it at an actual old U.S. Mint gives it "flavor."
"Is it profitable? Nah. It's more of a vacation," said Murachanian, a postal service employee who says he attends about eight shows annually.
Al Blythe, on the other hand, is a pro. He owns Sierra Vista Coins in Minden.
"It's a nice little show and I wouldn't give my table up for anything," he said. "There's a waiting list to get one."
"It's a business but I do it for the fun of it," he said. "This is more informal, more personal than the big shows like Long Beach or San Francisco. There are more than 500 dealers at those."
Blythe, who used to be in the aerospace industry, said coins and currency started out as a hobby that got out of control.
"Let's say it's a disease I enjoy having," he said.
Jim Barmore, director of the state museum, said the show is popular with dealers in part because of its location at the historic Carson City mint. He said the total number of visitors Saturday and today should exceed 2,500, including locals as well as numismatists from every state in the nation seeking that special coin to complete a collection.
The original coin press used in the mint during the 1800s was busy throughout Saturday pressing medallions featuring the state seal, the Pony Express and the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. Barmore said sales of those medallions - $25 for silver, $4 for brass - make a significant contribution to the museum's programs each year.
Bob Nylen, curator of history, said the coin press has turned out more than 25,000 commemorative coins over the past three years.
"It's a small show but the dealers seem to enjoy it," he said
He said another attraction for numismatists is the museum's collection of coins minted there. They have 109 of the 111 coins minted in Carson City between 1870 and 1893. Missing are the 1873 dime and the 1873 quarter, and museum officials would be happy to accept a gift if some collector is feeling generous.
Rusty Goe, owner of Southgate Coins and Collectibles in Reno, helps organize the event along with museum officials. He was engrossed in making a deal with another collector Saturday. Goe helped organize a club to promote the show and is the author of "The Mint on Carson Street" which records the history of the mint.
The show continues at the museum today.
n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.