Celebrating 36 Years ~ Interview with Alex Perakis

2016 marks the 36th Anniversary of Alex Perakis Coins & Currency being in business. In honor of this anniversary I sat down to talk a little about how the company got started, changes over the decades, and any advice Alex has for collectors. 

Q: What made you decide to start this company?

API started out collecting coins as a teenager; beginning with coins I would find in our family’s restaurant register, then moving on to paper money after having seen the beautiful engravings for many years. The more interested in U.S. Paper Money I became, the more I felt the majority were grossly undervalued. 

I worked in auto sales for 25 years, my last 11 at a Cadillac dealership where I was consistently plagued with the many problems that go along with cars and all their moving parts. At this time I had found the response to my part time business of selling numismatics to be quite successful, and realized I could make it a full time profession. I’ve always been a person who enjoyed all aspects of history, and found that the correlation between my love of history and numismatics made me fortunate to be able to combine my two interests into a viable business.

Q: Through the decades, what has been the biggest change you’ve seen in this industry?

AP: By far, the biggest change has been more and more long term coin collectors and investors diversifying into paper money; many of whom left coins completely for paper.7-7-2016 1-26-10 PM

Q: What is your favorite note? 

AP: It’s quite difficult to choose just one! However, the notes I’ve always found to be most impressive are:

– Known as the Technicolor Note, the 1905 Series of $20 Gold Certificates have always been a favorite of mine. With five different color processes, these notes are, in my opinion, the most gorgeous of the large Gold Certificate family.

– The exceedingly colorful Legal Tender Series of 1869, known as Rainbows, are high on my list of favored paper money. Also, these notes marked the beginning of micro-printing on U.S. currency.

– I’ve always been enamored with National Banknotes from the First Charter Issue, 1865-1875. They have captivating engraved depictions of world famous paintings on the reverse, that make these notes into true works of art in themselves.

Q: If you could give a new collector one piece of advice, what would it be?

Accumulators, which I used to be, never make the money collectors, as well as investors, make. I was a long time naive, if I should use the expression, ‘cheap collector’, which caused me to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process. At first I took the majority of coins I collected out of circulation, which was a big mistake as millions of people did the same thing with cash. I have to admit, I really was the ultimate accumulator, which cost me, but made me realize that astute collectors would invest a significant premium for a scarce numismatic item.