The Michigan State Numismatic Society

How I Started Collecting Coins - Phil Delia

By Dany Rothfeld

How I Started Collecting Coins By Dany Rothfeld

Featuring Phil Delia

This month’s featured collector/dealer is Mr. Phil Delia.  Born in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, Phil first started collecting coins as a Cub Scout.  His father, who was also a scout leader, collected coins and later became a dealer.  He was employed at the Macomb Mall Shopping Center, where one of his responsibilities as Head of Maintenance was to collect and sort the coins that people threw into the mall’s fountain.  He was able to keep any foreign coins he found.  At that time there were a lot of Canadian coins and wheat pennies, some of them with the “S” mark for the San Francisco Mint.  Phil and his father would replace any coins that they could use for their collections with other coins, and turn them in to the bank.  Phil’s father, Phil Delia Senior, was young Phil’s mentor.  When he retired and moved to California, Phil Junior took his place as a coin dealer.  He continues in that profession here in Michigan.  He is now more of a dealer than a collector, although he still collects Canadian and US coins and currency.  He has a nice collection of fractional currency, and does a lot of dealing in paper--stock certificates, foreign and US paper money, and also vignettes and imprints.

    Phil used to display at MSNS shows years ago, but discontinued doing that due to his busy schedule.  He currently works for Blue Cross/Blue Shield as an Administrative Manager.  He belongs to several paper money clubs, in addition to being a life member of MSNS.  Phil is a member of ANA, CSNS, and local and national paper money organizations.  He is also heavily involved in the National Management Association, of which he is treasurer.

      Phil still has a large collection of proof and mint sets, which he has been collecting since the 60s.  At many of the coin shows he gives out bank notes or currency.  He often donates packages of bank notes to be distributed to children who attend coin shows, to spark their interest.


    Phil’s son was a collector, as well, for awhile.  When he was younger, he used to collect and exhibit at the MSNS show.  Nowadays he is a college student, and devotes his time to school, leaving the coin collecting behind--at least for now.  One interesting story Phil tells is that years ago he purchased a few stock certificates for his own collection from Dr. Wallace Lee, who is now a retired dentist.  Along with those stock certificates, Phil purchased the actual stock certificate of Dr. Lee’s dental business – shares which were never actually issued.  Dr. Lee is a well-known collector of paper money, and has been the president of the Paper Money Society for years.

    Phil would like to get the message out to collectors--young and old--that you don’t need much money to start collecting.  Children can collect state quarters, which are within their means.  Older collectors might have financial problems due to Michigan’s economy, but they can still purchase inexpensive items that interest them.