The West Penn Coin Club originated in 1961 with two Monroeville youths, Larry Belkin and his best friend, Bruce Campbell. Larry and Bruce were already avid coin collectors, beginning their interest in junior high school.
After school they often would visit a family friend and coin collector, Charles Graham, who lived on Wall Avenue in Pitcairn.They were able to view Charles coin collection and learn more about coins. Charles Graham belonged to several coin clubs and would take the boys to his club meetings and oftentimes purchase coins for them.
Since there were no local coin clubs, one day Larry presented Bruce with the idea of starting a local club.
Larry had already created an emblem, drawn on a piece of cardboard, as well as a name for the club that circled the emblem,”The Monroeville Numismatic Society”.
Together, Larry and Bruce approached Charles Graham and Charles friend Walter Smith of Murrysville, two of the areas most serious and influential coin collectors and ask if they would help to start a local coin club. Both men agreed on the need for a local coin club and agreed to use their influence to help form one.
The first club meeting took place in Bruce’s living room in Monroeville, the summer of 1961, where a handful,(5 or 6) attended. Soon officers for the club were elected with Mr.Charles Graham as president, Mr. Walter Smith as treasurer and Mr. Jerry Braverman as secretary.
Walter Smith located a meeting hall in a Murrysville Firehouse and proposed that the club’s name be the “Murrysville Coin Club”. The others objected, noting that club members would come from the entire surrounding area and the meetings might not always be held in Murrysville. The founders agreed that the name should be more comprehensive and decided on”The West Penn Coin Club”.
The West Penn Coin Club held monthly meetings, charged no dues and made arrangements with some local coin dealers to pay a fee to sell coins at the club meetings, then the club used the income to purchase coins to raffle to the club members.
The idea of having a coin show soon developed, with the first shows held at the Murrysville Firehouse in the early to mid 1960’s. When Larry and Bruce left for college in the fall of 1965, the club was thriving and by that time, meetings were being held in Monroeville’s Fire House #4.
Records indicate that later coin shows were held at the well known Holiday House in Monroeville for six years, from1978 to 1983. Records also show that Mr. Walter Smith won first prize, a Gold Krugerrand, at the January,1978 coin show. The Monroeville Holiday House was closed in 1989.
The West Penn Coin Club Coin Shows were also held at the Quality Inn Motel in Irwin,PA. For the past fifteen years our shows have been held at Futules’ Harmar House, Cheswick, PA. Our yearly coin shows have been one of the foundations of numismatic interest in this area for nearly fifty years, by providing the numismatic community a venue of coin dealers from far and wide to deal with the ever-increasing interest of coin collecting.
The West Penn Coin Club meeting locations were moved several times between the fall of 1965 and January 1980, then established and continues to be held at the Italo-American Citizens Club,1130 Lower Rodi Road, Wilkins Township / Turtle Creek, PA.
The West Penn Coin Club was established by the dream, desire and vision of two boys, helped by two men that led the way of providing a common forum to those interested in the preservation and collection of coins.
Mr. Charles Graham had received a “Life Membership” earlier, then in February 1975, Mr. Walter Smith was awarded his “Life Membership” and in March 1975 both were presented with their “Gold Life Membership Cards”. It is believed that Mr. Charles Graham and Mr. Walter Smith passed away in the late 1970’s.
The West Penn Coin Club, as one of the oldest coin clubs in the region, without interruption, has maintained viable and ongoing programs. We have been successful by following the lead of our past members and proven traditions.
The West Penn Coin Club members strive to provide a greater understanding of the hobby that has given much joy to generations of members, as we have members from all walks of life and of various ages participating together in educational and worthwhile experiences.
History and tradition play an important part in the direction of any organization.The West Penn Coin Club has worked hard to ensure its future by recognizing its past. Our club encourages all individuals who feel they share our common goals and coin collecting interest to come see for themselves why we have been a successful contributing part of Western Pennsylvania’s numismatic history.
We recognize our many past members, including:
- Mr. Larry Belkin, who currently lives in Virginia
- Mr. Bruce Campbell who resides in Ohio
- Mr. Charles Graham
- Mr. Walter Smith
Thank you for starting our club and the chance for us to continue our dreams.
Special thanks to former club member and Bourse Chairman Clyde Kepple for investigating and documenting the history of our club.