Coin collectors work to cultivate Central Illinois’ history

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While coins may just be cheap change to some people, others like Jack Zillion and Dennis Witter see them worth much more.

The two Peoria natives are called professional numismatists; they collect and sell rare and historic coins. Some of their currency even dates back to Greek and Roman times.

“You can’t help but have a love for history if you get involved with this stuff because it ties in with economics, ties in with history, ties in with geography and that’s what makes it kind of fun,” Zillion said. He serves as the vice president of Westlake Rare Coins in Peoria, alongside Witter who serves as president.

The pair opened the business back in 1988. They said their interests in collecting started decades ago.

“It goes back to my childhood—around eight, nine years old,” Witter said. “I had an uncle who gave me an Indian head penny.”

“Well my interest in the hobby started at about age seven,” Zillion said. “My uncle got me hooked on collecting.”

Both said much has changed over the course of their 30 years in business, including their shop’s location, but their passion for collecting remains.

But you’ll find more than just currency at Westlake Rare Coins. The walls of the shop are donned with collectibles of central Illinois’ war time history.

Witter and Zillion say they enjoy their work because of their customers. And just like two sides of a coin, Zillion says, “No two days are ever the same here.”

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