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how to choose your career in numismatics

Finding a Career in Numismatics

By Stack's Bowers Galleries

Author: Stack's Bowers Galleries / Thursday, June 03, 2021 / Categories: Did You Know?

Did you know that professionals in the coin hobby come from very different backgrounds? Often those of us who work in numismatics are asked: “Did you have to go to school to learn about coins?” Or, “How did you get your start in the business?” There are many and varied answers, but as a rule, the numismatic hobby and profession do not require a specific background.

For example, did you know that Stack’s Bowers Galleries Senior Consignment Director for Europe, Henrik Holt Christensen, learned about European coins and banknotes from his grandmother and by traveling extensively throughout the region? When he was 12 years old his grandmother started sharing her collection with him, and his interest expanded greatly as he traveled beyond Denmark while working as an engineer…that’s right, an engineer. Christensen's professional background is in manufacturing engineering, where he has a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master's in Business Finance/Manufacturing Investments. He worked to address challenges within the automotive manufacturing, oil and gas, hydraulic systems, mining, medical device, and electronics industries. Henrik has global experience, working in Denmark, Scandinavia, Germany, Poland, England, and South Africa, and he is fluent in five languages, including Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, German and English. But, he later chose to pursue his numismatic passion by joining Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

Similarly, U.S. coin specialist, Ben Orooji, graduated from the University of Maine with a Masters of Arts in Clinical Psychology, and the University of Central Florida with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology and Behavioral Forensics. After graduating from the University of Maine he worked in a maximum-security prison within the Florida Department of Corrections. The ethical care and rehabilitation of incarcerated individuals remains a cause about which he is passionate. Ben also has extensive knowledge of Capped Bust and Reeded Edge half dollars, as well as most other federal coinage, and has chosen to center his career around these interests.

Chris Ortega has worked in the auction industry since 2003, with his initial experience as a bi-lingual auctioneer and personal property appraiser, working with various government agencies, state and local municipalities, and national consumer banks conducting on-site appraisal valuations and liquidation auctions. In 2010 he launched a luxury boutique specializing in high-end designer goods, and to expand that business he successfully completed the Diamond Grading Course at the Gemological Institute of America. While the business was a success, Chris decided to combine his areas of expertise to return to a career in the auction industry with Stack’s Bowers Galleries, where he has become quite well versed in many areas of numismatics as well.

What we learn from these three experts (and many others within our company) is that there is no specific degree or educational background required to become a numismatist. One thing that they all have in common, however, is a desire to learn and grow. There are no cookie-cutter coin dealers; each brings a special set of skills to the table. We encourage young numismatists who desire to work in the hobby to pursue this dream no matter your degree or background. Allow your passion to cultivate your career, just like so many of the experts at Stack’s Bowers Galleries have done!​​