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Celebrities in Coin Collecting

By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez - September 8, 2022

Thomas Jefferson, who appears on the eponymous Jefferson Nickel, was the third president of the United States and a coin collector. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.

If you’re a coin collector, you’re in good company – some of the biggest stars in the sports world and show biz are fellow numismatists. The list of famous coin collectors from Hollywood and beyond reads like a Who’s Who of luminaries from yesteryear and today, and you may just be surprised at some of the familiar names who have shared the numismatic space.

Some of the most famous folks in history were coin collectors, including third United States president Thomas Jefferson, who has appeared on the nation’s nickel since 1938. King Farouk of Egypt was a renowned coin collector. So much did he love the hobby that he owned some of the most notable numismatic rarities; among Farouk’s cabinet was the 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, which was later graded PCGS MS65 and became the most valuable coin upon selling for nearly $19 million in 2021.

King Farouk of Egypt was one of the most prolific coin collectors of the mid-20th century. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons. Click image to enlarge.
The 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle is graded PCGS MS65 and became the most valuable coin in the world when it sold at a 2021 Sotheby’s auction for $18,872,250. Click image to enlarge.

Remember the 1960s sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies? It was about the Clampett family, who lived near an oil-inundated swamp and became rich overnight after “black gold (Texas tea)” was discovered on their property. Family patriarch Jed Clampett was played by Buddy Ebsen, who was quite wealthy in real life, too. The famous actor had built an incredible collection of coins that sold in 1987 for hundreds of thousands of dollars. During the sale, Ebsen told the Chicago Tribune, “Coins are loaded with history. When you hold something made 600 years before Jesus was born, you think of all the people who touched it over the years. That`s what makes coin collecting an exciting growth experience.”

“Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” Does that ring a bell? If you were a fan of the 1976-1983 sitcom Laverne & Shirley, you’ll recall actor Penny Marshall, who played Laverne – the friend and roommate of Shirley (Cindy Williams), a coworker at the fictional Shotz brewery in Milwaukee. While Marshall’s onscreen character loved Pepsi and milk, in real life she had a love for coins – perhaps no surprise given her first name, “Penny.” Wrote Sacramento Bee reporter Carlos Alcala in 2002, “Marshall said her first name came as a sop for her brothers, who were saving their pennies for a pony, but got a baby sister instead.”

Los Angeles Laker owner Dr. Jerry Buss had one of the winningest basketball teams on the court. And he also owned one of the greatest coin collections in modern history. Among his holdings were an 1804 Draped Bust Dollar and 1913 Liberty Nickel. Buss once told Numismatic News he was a “pure collector” and that his tastes for rare coins grew as his disposable income did over the years. Despite owning some of the most famous coins ever minted, he still owned the coins he had originally collected from pocket change years earlier. “I hold as close to my heart, I think, as any part of my collection, the three original sets – Lincoln Cents, Buffalo Nickels, and Mercury Dimes – which were taken totally out of circulation. They were absolutely completed, all out of circulation, with the single exception of the 1909-S VDB.”

While sadly Buddy Ebsen, Penny Marshall, and Dr. Jerry Buss are no longer with us, there are still many luminous coin collectors who are actively involved in numismatics as of this writing, including James Earl Jones – easily one of the hobby’s most famous ambassadors. Jones, whose prominence rose in the 1970s with roles in award-winning television miniseries Roots and as the voice of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, has contributed much to the hobby – including lending his distinct baritone voice for narrating educational numismatic videos.

Other famous folks who have been linked to coin collecting? Actors Nicole Kidman and Kate Hudson, hockey icon Wayne Gretzky, and ex-Beatle Paul McCartney. Former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar served a role on the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, while Kermit the Frog of Muppets fame was the United States Mint’s “spokesfrog” during the 50 State Quarters promotions that launched in 1999. And what fans of late-night television could forget comedian Conan O’Brien’s long-running segment “New State Quarters” spoofing designs on the circulating commemorative quarters of the day? Yes, we coin collectors shouldn’t ever take what we do too seriously… And always remember that in our hobby we walk (and collect) among giants of the entertainment world!


Alcala, Carlos. “A Chance to Toss in Your Two Bits.” Sacramento Bee. August 15, 2002.

Boye, Roger. “Buddy Ebsen is Selling His Rare Coins.” Chicago Tribune. May 31, 1987.

Lemke, Bob. “Jerry Buss: A Pure Collector.” Numismatic News. Syndicated on Littleton Coin Company website.

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