Coin collector driven to share passion

Jim Schoffstall, Tellico Village Coin Club founder and president, shows off some of his coin collection.

Jim Schoffstall first discovered a passion for coin collecting as a way to bond with his father.

Father and son were already close with a shared interest in woodworking, but coin collecting offered the pair another connection. His father would often keep $10 worth of coins in his pocket for Schoffstall to examine.

Schoffstall, president and founder of Tellico Village Coin Club, tried to do the same with his children and grandchildren.

“I gave them a Whitman Blue Book, and they live in Virginia Beach,” Schoffstall said. “When I’d go visit, I’d go through my stash and get a couple coins I knew they didn’t have and some pocket change, and there for a while when I’d visit they’d say, ‘Do you have any change we can look through?’ And I’d pull it out of my pocket, and they’d get all excited. Well, that died off, but that was the way we bonded.”

Schoffstall joined the U.S. Navy in 1966 and and served 27 years. His father lived with him in Navy housing. Schoffstall was an avid pistol shooter and had plenty of empty ammo boxes where his father would stash coins after rolling them and marking them. Years after his passing in 1983, Schoffstall found his father’s collection.

“It took me until 1996, after I retired from the Navy, to actually go through his coins,” Schoffstall said. “He had some key coins in there that I never knew about it. I guess he knew someday I’d find them.”

An appreciation for circulated coins developed from his first job as a cashier at a local dairy. From there, Schoffstall began collecting high-dollar gold coins. He now largely focuses on coins he orders from the U.S. Mint.

Schoffstall was president of a large coin club in Florida before moving to Tellico Village in 2016. He used his past experience with that club to help start the TVCC in March 2019 and was inspired to start the club after health issues slowed down other aspects of his life.

“In January of 2018, I got hit with two severe bouts of vertigo, and it affected my equilibrium,” Schoffstall said. “… With the equilibrium problems, it cut down on a lot of things, walking and hiking and pickleball and stuff, that I couldn’t do that I wanted to do. So I was at a friend’s house, we had a group of people we played cards, you know, we’d get together once a week. They started asking me about coins and somebody suggested, ‘Well, why don’t you start a coin club?’”

Schoffstall had no idea how hard it would be to start a club. About 15 people showed up to the first meeting. He was elected president, but nobody volunteered for other positions. He has since assumed several administrative roles for the club, including vice president, treasurer and communications.

However, he did nominate several people for a board of directors.

Stan Stosiak was nominated to the board and has been part of TVCC since the first meeting. Stosiak has worked closely with Schoffstall and has stepped up to help with club duties such as presentations at meetings. With about 60 years of experience collecting coins, he shares Schoffstall’s passion.

But Schoffstall’s “attention to detail” learned from his time in the Navy is unparalleled.

“He’s a good organizer, and he’s done several presentations, and I’ve done several presentations, and we work well together,” Stosiak said. “He was a command master chief in the Navy, so he knows how do those types of things, and it shows. He takes care of everything. He really keeps the group together.”

Schoffstall started the club to give himself something to do and get out of the house.

“Collecting coins, if you get into the big coins, you can make money,” he said. “The little guys like us, most of my coins, I got by swapping with other collectors, and probably 90 percent of the time I might trade a half dollar for a quarter I need, but I don’t care, because I fill a hole in the book. I never expected to be a millionaire.”

His passion for coins and a desire to share that passion are what drive him to create presentations for club meetings and continue his work with the club.

“I love it because I like the history,” he said. “Like for these meetings, I actually give the history of the coin. I start off from the construction of the pallet all the way through to the actual distribution and the design of each coin, who designed each coin, what brought on the design for each coin, what was the designer’s idea. It’s kind of hard to cover in 15 minutes, but the people seem to like it. … I enjoy the history of the coins. That’s what got me into it.”