Have you ever held something in your hand that’s almost 2,000 years old?

Jason Elwell, president of the El Paso International Coin Club, does that every day.

The club is gearing up to host the 56th Annual El Paso Coin Show Feb. 15-17 at the El Maida Shrine which will feature more than 50 vendors, exhibits and even an auction for kids.

El Paso Inc. sat down with Elwell and spoke about the hobby of coin collecting – professionally referred to as numismatics.

Q: How’d you get into coin collecting?

One Christmas, my grandparents put some old coins in my stocking – I remember getting a 1907 Indian head penny and thinking, “Wow, that’s almost 100 years old.”

For a 10- or 12-year-old, that was impressive.

Q: What’s your favorite coin in your collection?

A Fugio Cent – the first official one-cent piece of U.S. Currency – from 1787. It says on the front, “Mind Your Business,” which can mean a couple of things; as in, “this is our business, we have to take care of it,” or “stand back, England, mind your business. We’re our own country.”

That’s why I like it. It’s got that spirit.

Q: Can someone bring a coin to the show and find out how much it’s worth?

There’ll be plenty of dealers at the coin show that will be more than willing to tell you what you have.

That’s what we want to do – we want to educate the public.

If you have a question, come to us, we can help you out.

Q: What’s the best way to clean your coins?

You don’t want to clean coins. Don’t ever clean them.

You actually can hurt their value by cleaning them.

They’d turn a different color and it wouldn’t be natural, and they’ll show signs of being altered.

Clean your dishes, not your coins.

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