About Us

Paragon Numismatics is owned and operated by Andrew Kimmel.

Andrew Kimmel is a member of the following organizations:

  • American Numismatic Association (LM-4320)
  • Professional Numismatists Guild (#675)
  • Central States Numismatic Society (LM-604)
  • Milwaukee Numismatic Society (LM-76)
  • South Shore Coin Club
  • Florida United Numismatists (LM-700)
  • National Silver Dollar Roundtable
  • Industry Council for Tangible Assets
  • Ozaukee Coin Club

We submit coins and currency for professional grading to:

  • Professional Coin Grading Service
  • PCGS Currency
  • Numismatic Guaranty Corporation
  • Numismatic Conservation Service
  • Paper Money Guaranty

Paragon Numismatics Company History

Numismatics began for me in the early 1970ís when my Grandfather stuffed interesting coins into my piggy bank. The coins were old and dirty, but I viewed them with fascinated love since they were a gift from Grandpa. At age ten a friend from California casually suggested that I collect coins to facilitate trading through the mail. As an impressionable nerd, I agreed. The next step was to compare the coins in the old piggy bank to the designs in my new Redbook.

My father learned of my interest and promptly gave me the coin collection started by his father.  Some of the silver dollars in the green albums were discolored, so I promptly cleaned them with baking soda and a toothbrush.  Hey…where did the luster go?

During the following summer I visited my friend in San Diego.  Upon arriving at his apartment in Balboa Park, he whisked me down the block to The Old Coin Shop, owned by Harlan White.  This represented my first visit to a coin shop, so I gazed in awe.  Beautifully toned silver dollars captured my attention immediately.  What exactly were these, and what caused the colors?  After Harlan patiently explained the toning process, I wandered around with an awed expression.  Then it happened. I made the proclamation of my life:  “I’m going to be a rare coin dealer and sell toned coins.” 
I knew absolutely nothing about numismatics, but somehow I recognized my purpose and destiny.  How sad.

Although adolescence threatened to direct my mind elsewhere, I stuck with numismatics until that fateful day during the summer of 1986 when I visited the State Historical Society’s library at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  Through the miracle of card catalogs I discovered hidden gold: on the top floor of the building, in the last row of stacks, in the dreariest corner of the library, on the top bank of shelves (next to Dr. B. Clubb’s famous treatise: 101 Ways to Teach Your Gorilla to Sit and Stay), I found hundreds of numismatic books and auction catalogues.  Suffice to say that I spent the next six months studying Shakespeare, Hawthorne, and Melville (as well as Garrett, Eliasberg, and Brand).

In January, 1987 my girlfriend (now wife) suggested that I pursue my dream to become a rare coin dealer.  That was all the encouragement I needed, so I regularly attended shows around Wisconsin buying and selling coins.  By early spring I published a newsletter called “Toned Dollar Topics” where I listed beautifully toned coins for sale.  Almost every coin sold in the first edition, so I purchased more coins and issued another edition.  Same deal.  This was good!  The entire business model sparkled in its simplicity: purchase nice coins, provide accurate descriptions, mark up the price a few bucks, and sell them.

Such was the birth of nearly fifteen years of “Toned Dollar Topics.”  At its zenith over 150 toned dollars and type coins appeared monthly, and I sold between 80-90% of my entire inventory within four days of publication.  In fact, customers felt so comfortable with an otherwise subjective product that they often waved their return privilege to save an extra 5%.  Amazingly, fewer than fifty coins were returned for a refund in my entire numismatic career.

In retrospect, the mailing list was innocent and old-fashioned.  No pictures, no flashy graphics, no computers, nothing really expensive--just great coins and valuable information about toning, artificial toning, and the coin market.  Most importantly, all the information contained in the monthly articles was 100% original derived from my experience inspecting, buying, and selling thousands of toned dollars.  Until the advent of “Toned Dollar Topics,” what little toning information existed in print (pro or con) was cursory, sloppy, biased, or inaccurate.  Wayne Miller’s fabulous book, The Morgan and Peace Dollar Textbook, represented the single shining exception offering an excellent point of entry for aspiring toning collectors.

Customers loved Toned Dollar Topics as they learned fine details about the chemistry, optics, history, breadth, myths, and facts of natural and artificial toning.  I also wrote stupid numismatic poetry, shared bizarre numismatic stories, described hoards of toned coins, and generally did whatever felt right and fun.  The coin descriptions were fun too, as they required readers to visualize the coin before ordering.  Remember: no pictures or photos!  But that was about to change…for the worse.

Enter the internet.  Now all bets were off.  My little monopoly on the beautifully toned dollar market faded as hundreds of people hawked their wares online.  In response, I created my own little site listing and picturing toned dollars, but suddenly everyone was an expert and few cared about actually LEARNING before buying.  The internet created a new breed of toning collector with money to spend and a genuine love for toned coins--but with no experience.  The coffin lid opened, and people jumped in.

Dealers who laughed in my face in the past now “specialized” in toned coins and offered expert opinions.  The demand was staggering.  Auction prices for toned coins soared as the toning market reached a “fever” pitch.  The height of the market saw the auction of “The Battle Creek Collection” of toned dollars (mostly dated 1887).  The coins were decent, but hardly spectacular based on experience.  Despite the coins’ general mediocrity, media hype propelled prices to the stratosphere.  Similar coins that I had trouble selling for $90 for the last fifteen years sold for over $1000 at the auction.

Time for Paragon Numismatics to quietly withdraw from the market.  Long time toning collectors (and customers) either sat on the sidelines or auctioned their collections, so I became a dinosaur.  Few new buyers had a clue about real-world market demand, but no one seemed to care.  The one-way street of coin auctions and online auction venues proved far more alluring than working with a professional.  Anyhow, the hype prompted me to abandon the mailing list and web site.

So now what?

In 1991 a dealer asked me if I was interested in purchasing his business.  I was busy with the mailing list at the time, so operating a coin shop seemed problematic.  However, as I lost confidence in the exploding toning market, the time seemed right to observe the dealer’s operation.

What I witnessed appalled me.  I offer no details and mention no names, but my town clearly needed a truly ethical, professional numismatist.  Don’t get me wrong: there were (and still are) other fabulous dealers and coin shops in the area.  However, no one conducted business in a discreet environment where buyer and seller could buy and sell without fear of a stranger looking over their shoulder.

I have maintained the same location inside Harris Bank in Mequon for almost eleven years.  Upon entering my office you will see no proof sets or buckets of circulated “stuff” packed inside showcases.  Instead you will discover a bowl of candy, antique showcases filled with nostalgic trinkets, and a round table. I give toys and coins to kids, snacks and soda pop to customers, and honest, professional service to everyone.  No hype, no pressure, and no games.

Behold the history of Paragon Numismatics.  Chapters accumulate yearly, and stories become nuttier weekly.  Someone should consider producing a television series devoted to life as a rare coin dealer…but no one could handle the truth.

Whether you are interested in building a great coin collection, selling coins, gathering information, or just stopping by to say hello, call anytime to set up an appointment.  Thanks for reading…and don’t be afraid to call me coin names.

Copyright Paragon Numismatics 2010
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