Collector Wrote the Book on Cents
For a young Richard Snow, the walk from school always included a detour past the coin shop in his New Jersey hometown.
In a way, the route guided Snow toward a career as a professional numismatist and head of Tucson-based Eagle Eye Rare Coins Inc., 1760 E. River Road.
“When you’re holding a coin, it becomes very interesting,” Snow said while examining a 15th-century gold coin bearing the image of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. “This was around in the Columbus era. It’s like holding a piece of history.” Snow recently wrote “A Guide Book of Flying Eagle and Indian Head Cents” for Whitman Publishing LLC. It was released in May in bookstores nationwide.
The guidebook is sixth in Whitman’s “Official Red Book” series, used as a reference and pricing guide by coin collectors around the country.
With a career spanning 25 years, Snow has developed a reputation in numismatic circles, specializing in Indian-head and flying-eagle coins.
In 1991, Snow wrote “Flying Eagle and Indian Cents,” the nation’s first book to specialize in such coins.
He also developed Snow Variety Numbers, a ratings system for coins that is used by nationwide auction catalogs and dealers.
“When it comes to coins, he is the authority,” said Chris Ramsey, owner of the Mini-Mint Coin Co., 930 W. Prince Road. “In a split second, he’s able to recognize a rare coin. He’s a walking encyclopedia.”
Mark Stubbs, president of the 125-member Tucson Coin Club, said having Snow in Tucson means a leading expert is close to home.
“It’s something to have him here in the community,” he said. Snow grew up in New Jersey and moved to Tucson in 1987, becoming senior numismatist for Allstate Coin Co.
He left for Seattle in 1993. The father of two moved his family and Eagle Eye Rare Coins back to Tucson in 2000. Most times, Snow deals through the Internet, but occasionally he travels around the country to buy coin collections for clients. He now serves about 2,000 clients and deals in coins worth between $50 and $100,000.
His first investment, however, still carries some weight.
“I distinctly remember buying an 1884 silver dollar for about $4. It was amazing to own a coin that was so beautiful for not much money,” he said. “It hooked me.” Snow is currently working on his next project, a book on the 2004-D Wisconsin extra-leaf-variety quarters, which were found in circulating in Tucson in 2005. Those coins now sell in the $200 to $4,000 range. The book will detail the finds, distribution, pricing and stories of Tucsonans who found the coins.