The NGC grader was recently profiled in the ANA's The Numismatist.
Life's tough lessons lead a rebellious teen back to numismatics.
AT AGE 20, JOHN SCHUCH II found himself out of his parents' house and their good graces. With nowhere to go, Schuch hooked up with Uncle Sam. His know-it-all attitude took a direct hit. "It didn't take long in Army basic training to realize just how little I knew," says Schuch. "Not just how young and dumb I was, and how badly I behaved toward my parents, but how much I was throwing away what I had learned in my father's coin business."
Now a 35-year-old professional coin grader, husband and father of three boys, Schuch looks back on his early years in numismatics with fondness. When he was 12, he often would help his dad at coin shows. At the time, Schuch was more interested in baseball cards than numismatics. "Card shows often used to set up with coin shows," he says. "And making money off my favorite baseball heroes was much more exciting than coins." That, too, would change.
His first, big out-of-state coin show was the ANA's anniversary convention in Baltimore in 1993. He was 15. John Schuch Sr. told his son, "Keep your eyes on those coins at all times! Don't let them out of your sight for any reason." As the younger Schuch was following the bellman through the hotel doors, a huge man snatched him up and yelled, "I've got the kid, grab the coins! Grab the coins!"
Schuch was terrified until he heard a roar of laughter coming from the man,
a long-time friend of his father.
"Michael 'Killer' Kelly overheard my dad repeating the importance of not letting the coins out of my sight and thought it would be a great joke to play on me. That was my introduction to the numismatic show circuit."
Following his stint in the Army, Schuch went home to California and started working for his father once more. This time, he was full of passion and eager to learn. Along with his dad, many people in the industry taught Schuch how to buy, sell and eventually grade coins. Grading became his passion, and one day he asked a friend if there was a chance he could get an interview with Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). "My friend told me to call Mark Salzberg," recalls Schuch. "I was a little taken back...I was supposed to call the owner of the company for an interview?"
That was nine years ago, and today Schuch couldn't be happier. "I have been able to handle and grade some of the world's most amazing coins," he says. "The collections that come through NGC's doors are such a prodigious part of history." No longer is he under pressure to buy and sell numismatic items—he simply gets to enjoy them.
Schuch now shares that joy with the next generation—his three sons, Brodie (10), Zayne (5) and Sawyer (3). Each has his own coin collection, though Zayne shows a particular interest in the hobby. "At the end of each work day, I try to disconnect from NGC and become a husband and a daddy," says Schuch.
The ANA's annual Summer Seminar has played a large role in developing his abilities. "Without the Seminar, I wouldn't be here at NGC," Schuch says. "I took the advanced grading class at least twice. Not only did it provide me with knowledge, but it helped me build relationships with others in the field." Now, Schuch leads his own grading class during the Seminar. He believes that the students, regardless of age, forge friendships that help them not only professionally, but also personally.
Numismatics has made the life John Schuch lives possible. "I was rebellious as a kid," he says. "I barely graduated high school, not because I wasn't capable, but because I didn't care. I wouldn't have family I love, and the job I'm passionate about, if it weren't for this great hobby."
—Robert B. Kelley
Reprinted courtesy of THE NUMISMATIST, official publication if the American Numismatic Association (www.money.org).