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Lifelong coin collector hopes club will inspire next generation of numismatists

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By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer

Richard “Dick” Lisi, president of the Nipmuc Coin Club, remembers when he first developed his passion for the study and collection of coins – or numismatics – more than 50 years ago.

“I was 12 years old,” he recalled. “I was a paper boy. Papers were $.67, and I would look at the change to find interesting or old coins.

“I don’t know what drew me to it,” he added. “That’s what kids did back then. They collected stamps, coins and baseball cards.”

Unlike many of those kids, however, Lisi’s love of coin collecting has never waned throughout his life. He has continued to learn, collect and share his knowledge.

Lisi had been attending the Southbridge Coin Club, but scheduling conflicts caused him to try to create his own club. The first meeting of the Nipmuc Coin Club was held at the Webster Library in September 2009. Unfortunately, the room was too small to accommodate the club’s activities and it closed at 8 p.m. on Wednesday nights. A member suggested the Oxford Senior Center as a meeting place and it turned out to be a perfect spot.

Twelve coin enthusiasts attended the first meeting. Now, the club membership has risen to over 30 from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, with over 20 attending each meeting, Lisi said.

“Many of our members have over 40 years of experience,” he explained. “Nine belong to the New England Numismatic Association (NENA), 10 are members of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and seven are registered coin dealers.”

One of those dealers is Lisi’s brother Tom, who co-owns Sterling Rare Coin in Sterling with his son Matt.

The two brothers and Matt have encouraged each other’s interest in coin collecting.

“We would give talks on coin collecting to local civic clubs such as the Lions Club,” said Lisi, who collects all types of U.S. coins and paper currency.

“I have a little bit of everything,” he added. “Each one has a story. How many hands did they pass through before coming to me?”

His most unique coin, he said, is a one-cent coin from 1794, the second year they were made in the U.S.

For such a longstanding hobby, Lisi noted that there are still new discoveries being made in both current and antique coins. Research and keeping up with the latest developments has become easier with the introduction of the internet.

Lisi admitted that four to five nights a week, he spends the evening looking at his coin collection.

“I still love it after all these years. It’s a deep passion and when it’s that deep it doesn’t leave you,” he said.

“My wife Annette asks me ‘are you looking at your coins again?’” he laughed.

He hopes that through his club and others, more people will learn about coin collecting and share his passion. However, the majority of those in the club are over 55, he said, and he worries coin collecting “will go the way of stamp collecting,” meaning fewer and fewer people will carry on the hobby.

Clubs in the area, including the Worcester County Numismatic Society in Auburn, the Blackstone Coin and Collectibles Club in Blackstone, the Southbridge Coin Club in Sturbridge, and the Sterling Coin Club, all welcome new members. The Worcester County club even has a kids’ club to pass on the hobby to a younger generation.

“We encourage new members to come to our meetings and see what it’s all about,” he noted.

“It is the best way to learn. We love to share our knowledge. That’s what it’s all about – helping others develop their passion.”

The Nipmuc Coin Club holds its monthly “Meeting and a Meal” on the fourth Wednesday of the month. From 6:30 to 7 p.m. there is an optional dinner, followed by guest speakers and a coin auction in which members bring items to sell. Meetings are held at the Oxford Senior Center, 323 Main St.

For more information about the Nipmuc Coin Club, contact Lisi at lisirichard15@yahoo.com or 508-410-1332 or find them on Facebook at Oxford Nipmuc Coin Club. To find a local club, visit www.nenacoin.org.

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