When he realized he misplaced a nearly $60,000 coin during dealer set up at the American Numismatic Association’s National Money Show in Portland, Oregon, Brian Hendelson became frantic.
Hendelson, owner of Classic Coin Company in Bridgewater, New Jersey, was reunited with it the next morning. The quick, happy ending resulted from the honesty of a show visitor, Chris Nokes of Kirkland, Washington, who received an unexpected gold coin reward from the grateful Hendelson.
The lost and quickly-found coin was a Flowing Hair variety “Stella” ($4 denomination gold coin) dated 1879 in a PCGS holder labeled proof, genuine, tooled, AU details. There was a $59,500 wholesale price sticker on the holder.
“It was not my coin,” said Hendelson. “Another dealer had given it to me to see if I was interested in buying it. After looking at it, I thought I had placed it on the back table at my booth, and then went outside to the hallway to meet someone.”
However, Hendelson apparently placed the encapsulated coin in his pocket, not on the table, and it accidentally fell out without him realizing it while he was in the hallway.
“When I returned to my table, I immediately saw the coin was not there. I was frantic and started to look through all my boxes of coins to see if it was in one of them. Several dealers also helped look for the coin in the inventory boxes, but it was gone. The show was about to close for the evening, and I reported the coin lost to the ANA security team,” he explained.
The next morning, March 5, 2015, opening day of the show, Hendelson went to the security office to see if the coin had been turned in.
“It was in the safe! I felt like a load was lifted off my chest, and thrilled to see the coin again! I asked who found it because I wanted to personally thank that person. About ten minutes later, ANA Convention Director Rhonda Scurek brought over Mr. Nokes, the man who found the coin, and I was able to thank him for his good deed,” said Hendelson.
Hendelson gave Nokes a 1925 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle graded PCGS MS63. He also is helping find buyers for a coin Nokes brought to the show to sell, and is not charging a commission fee.
Even though the ANA show was not yet open to the public on March 4, Nokes went to the Oregon Convention Center that afternoon because he missed a highway exit while driving to Kalama, Washington where he originally intended to look at antiques before driving to a hotel in Portland.
“I was going to the ANA show because I wanted to sell some coins from my collection to raise cash for the down payment on a house. Because I arrived earlier than planned in Portland, I walked to the convention center to get to know the route from my hotel. I saw a coin on the floor as I walked away from the ANA information desk,” said Nokes.
“I first thought it was a gold-colored Presidential dollar. I took two steps, picked it up and saw it was a $4 Stella with a $59,500 sticker on the holder, and my brain went reeling. I thought, this can’t be a real coin, but what is it? Wow! How in the world could it have gotten here?,” recalled Nokes.
“I certainly could have used $60,000 for a part of the down payment on the house I was looking at, but this was not my coin. I thought about what the person was going through who lost the coin. I couldn’t just hand this over to anybody, so I wanted to treat this very carefully. I walked over to the entrance to the show and said I wanted to talk to the president of the ANA or whoever was in charge,” Nokes explained.
ANA Convention Director Scurek and Ty Cobb, a member of the Positive Protection team that provides security services for ANA conventions, met with Nokes. He told them about the found coin, Scurek wrote down his contact information, and the coin was placed in the security room safe.
Nokes said he didn’t know if he could get to sleep that night “because that coin was on my mind.”
He returned to the ANA show on opening day and Scurek told him: “Someone wants to talk with you,” and she brought him to Hendelson’s table.
“Brian and I exchanged our stories and emotions about the coin, and we were both happy that everything worked out. I know I did the right thing. I feel really good about the ending,” said Nokes.
And the Stella? Hendelson, who is a candidate for the ANA Board of Governors, decided not to purchase it and returned it to its owner.