A penny for his thoughts

John Kranz

Photo By tyler ash

The market for coin collecting is subject to ups and downs just like every hobby, but through the years there’s been one constant: local collector John Kranz, who has been collecting for most of his life. Since 1967 Kranz has owned and operated the Penny Ranch, a coin shop at the corner of East Avenue and Highway 32. He and his wife, Judy, moved here from Oklahoma City to open their shop, where they sell U.S. coins, coins ranging from ancient Greece to foreign currencies, as well as jewelry, sports cards and stamps. At almost 70 years old, Kranz still enjoys his profession, as well as occasionally competing in local softball tournaments. Call the Penny Ranch at 345-1173 for hours and directions.

Have you ever found it strange that you sell money?

[Laughs.] That’s always a fun one. My favorite expression, especially with kids and parents, is that you can’t go wrong with a hobby where you have to save money.

What’s your oldest coin here?

Well, it’s hard to tell, because they were made long before there were calendars. I have a coin from a fellow from Macedonia who was Alexander the Great’s father. So that goes back about to 300 B.C.

What about the most valuable?

I’ve got a penny that is one of only three known to exist. We have it priced at $15,000. It was a pattern that they thought about making. There were several competing designs, and this one wasn’t picked. The one they did pick became the Indian Head penny.

Have you been getting more customers since the prices of gold and silver went up?

I get different customers now. The collector or hobbyist dwindles because he’s affected by the economy and cuts back on what he’s buying, or starts selling. I had a fellow tell me once that his coin collection lasted him through 3 1/2 years of unemployment. The customers that I get now are looking for economic insurance; something that’s going to hold its value regardless of what the world economy does. Paper is only as good as what you can trade it for, and when you have solid goods that are in demand all the time, then you’ve got something as good as gold.

Where do you see the coin-collecting market going?

In all the years I’ve been in business, it never really goes down. It may take three or four strides forward, and fall back one or two to catch its breath, but then it just continues on. The value of coins over a 20-year period tends to go up three to four times the inflation rate. Basically, my retirement sits here in coins.

What’s your favorite coin?

There are more valuable coins that are made out of gold or silver, but the lowly penny was always my favorite.