William Youngerman has loved money since he was a little kid. He's no greedier than the next person, he just has a thing for coins and bills -- particularly rare, old currency.
Now age 51, Youngerman started collecting coins when he was 9. By age 12 he was helping to run a hobby shop, where he started and oversaw the coin department. At that point he was going to coin shows all over Florida with his folks and at age 16 went into the rare-money business.
As owner of Boca Raton-based William Youngerman, Inc., he's amassed some 800 pieces of colorful paper money issued by Florida banks during the 19th and early-20th centuries. The largest collection of its kind, it will be on display to the public in its entirety for the first time at the National Money Show 2000 this weekend in Fort Lauderdale.
"We've touched upon just about everything concerned with the monetary history of Florida," says Youngerman.
By buying up other people's collections, Youngerman put together this comprehensive one. It includes "obsolete" Florida currency, national bank notes printed by the federal government but distributed locally with the local bank and town names on the script. "It had the bank's name on it, that's why we call it hometown currency," Youngerman explains.
Such money was used following the National Currency Act of 1863, which was signed by Pres. Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War to stabilize the monetary system. Money was put into circulation that way until the Federal Reserve Bank took over following the Great Depression.
In fact a portion of Youngerman's collection features "Depression script" from an emergency printing of money. Another display features more than 500 tokens issued by lumber companies and other businesses in rural Florida locales that minted their own coins for employees to spend in the company store.
"You can literally discover the whole history of Florida through money," Youngerman claims.
The wider history of the United States and its money is also part of the show, which is presented by the American Numismatic Association, the nonprofit educational organization and information clearinghouse for money collectors. Of particular interest are three rare 1914 pennies, each worth $100, which carry the letter D for Denver Mint. When association officers hit town for the show this week, they'll spend the valuable cents, so keep an eye on your pocket change. Finders can keep the coins or bring them to the show and cash them in for a crisp C-note.