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Mishler hits jackpot as president of ANA
By Cara Spoto

When Coin Collector Clifford Mishler was 10 years old, he didn't think much of collecting.

A friend of his collected canceled postage stamps, and he tried to convince Mishler to start collecting them, too, but he said he didn't see the point.

Then Mishler saw a mail order ad in a magazine offering 10 pieces of obsolete World War II paper money and an assortment of coins for 10 cents. He got approval from his father and sent out his order. The paper money really didn't interest him, but the coins did, especially a 3-cent U.S. coin and a small bronze coin from the island of Zanzibar off the east coast of Africa.

"It didn't have our dating on it. It had Arabic dating. To me it looked like the date was 1199, and I thought, 'Oh, this coin is 750 years old. It must really be a great buy,'" Mishler said. "I subsequently learned that the date was really 1882 in the Christian calendar."

That coin "fascinated" Mishler and was the seed of what has been a 59-year passion for coin collecting -- a passion that earlier this month saw Mishler elected president of the nation's largest coin collecting group, the American Numismatic Association.

Numismatic is an adjective meaning "of, relating to or consisting of coins, paper currency and medals." While there are several coin collecting associations in the county, the ANA is by far the largest, Mishler said. Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., the association has roughly 32,000 members. It also publishes a monthly magazine, and has a large museum and research library.

Mishler began his professional career in the coin collecting world in 1963, when he joined the staff of the Numismatic News, a Krause Publication, in Iola. Mishler stayed with the magazine's publisher, Krause Publications, for almost 40 years, working with friend and company founder Chet Krause. Mishler retired in 1999 after spending nine years as vice president of operations. He then stayed on as the company's chairman of the board until 2002. Mishler, 70, was first elected to the ANA's board in 2007 along with Krause.

John Krupka, who owns Point Coin in Stevens Point, said that having Mishler and Krause in Iola says a lot about central Wisconsin.

"This isn't going to happen again," Krupka said. "It lends a lot of credibility to the quality of coin collecting in the area."

Mishler doesn't have any big plans for the ANA, but hopes to further the goals of the association during his two-year term as president, helping to boost financial stability and spread the word about coin collecting to young Americans.

Although it's hard for coin collecting to compete for children's attentions in today's fast-paced world, he said kids would benefit from learning a bit about coins.

"One of the most important things to me about collecting coins is that they embody so much history, and heritage," Mishler said. "I have always credited the fact that I became a better student of history, geography and mathematics, then I would have ever been, because I wondered where Zanzibar was."


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