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Teresa had a denim jacket with buffalo nickels for buttons. They'd been pressed so they were dome-shaped, and I couldn't help admiring them every time my beautiful wife wore the coat. They gave me an idea for a way to share one of my hobbies with others.
I started collecting coins when I was very young. My mother ran the concession stand at the high school basketball games in Castleford, Idaho, and after each game she'd bring home all the money to count. In helping her go through the change, I'd find wheat pennies, buffalo nickels, Mercury dimes and occasionally standing Liberty quarters, walking Liberty half-dollars, and once in a blue moon even Peace dollars. We'd replace the coins that went into my collection with a check.
To build my collection further, my parents, other relatives and some close family friends gave me Indian head pennies, Morgan silver dollars and other pre-1964 coins that still had silver. I'd go to coin shops to horse-trade and spend some money I'd earned doing chores and milking cows on the farm. My late father-in-law, Jim Burkholder, also collected coins; when he died in 2002, he gave me his coin collection.
I quit collecting coins when I left for college. The collection stayed with me, though, traveling from dorm room to fraternity, from my trailer in veterinary school to my home with Teresa in Twin Falls, Idaho. When we moved upstate to Bonners Ferry, the collection came, too, but ended up in a large safe, never to see the light of day. Until I ran across some spare Buffalo nickel buttons for that jacket of Teresa's.
I really didn't like the door frames in our log home, and I really loved the coins and wanted to see them. That gave me the idea to get frames made with the coins embedded in them.
Over about three years, we've replaced most of the door frames on the main floor of our house with ones featuring antique coins. I saved the most valuable coins I have to pass down to my son someday, but took the rest, polished them, took them to a machine shop to be shaped with a press, and had an incredible finish carpenter named David Siebanthaler make new door frames out of local red fir with what's called a living edge (follows the knots and other features of the wood so it isn't straight on the outside edge).
We recently had photographers out at our Almost Heaven Ranch to take photos of the house for an upcoming feature in a log home magazine. They loved the unique touch of the antique coin door frames, and I love the fact that I get to see my childhood coin collection every day I'm home.
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