By Antoinette Rahn
In her poem “Children Learn What They Live,” author Dorothy Law Nolte provides various examples of the action and reaction of life experiences upon children.
If there were a version of this poem for the numismatic community, it might include the stanza, “If children live with inspiring examples of enjoying a hobby to the fullest, they will learn to take that interest to new heights.”
Such is the case for Paul Blaise Marino, owner of Flower Hill Collectables (www.flowerhillcollectables.com). A native of Manhasset, New York, Marino is a member of a multi-generational numismatic family. His introduction to the hobby, which is now the focus of his business, was courtesy of his grandfather, an avid coin collector. Additionally, his family owned a coin shop in New Hyde Park, Long Island, New York. That is where he learned a great deal of numismatic knowledge and the skills of operating a business.
“I learned the business working on Saturdays at my parents’ coin shop. In the summertime, I would work full time,” Marino said. “My father cautioned me not to stay in the business because it is a tough business, but I should learn as much as I could while I had the opportunity.”
Finding The Perfect Path
Blaise also explained how his interest in coins developed, “I didn’t always appreciate or love the hobby until college when I started my own business. Once I started working for myself, my passion and interest in numismatics sparked,” he said.
Marino’s chosen career path may seem like a given — but as anyone
who has had to declare a college major will tell you — sometimes the path doesn’t always follow the plans, and often for a good reason. Marino earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts in Communications with a concentration on Radio and Television Production.
“I was planning to be a radio morning show producer. I also had the opportunity to become a professor for Radio Production classes,” Marino explained. “I did not pursue either option because I was so happy with my own business.”
Celebrating The First Ten Years in Business
He has been the sole owner of Flower Hill Collectables since 2010. In the beginning, he was a road buyer, traveling nationwide to various coin shows and purchasing inventory for his business and his parents’ coin shop. Ten years later, the company remains a family operation, with three employees working beside Marino. The employees are Cameron Lombardi, Marino’s brother-in-law, who serves as director of numismatics, Matthew Mrakovcic, Marino’s cousin, who oversees inventory and shipping, and Marino’s mother, Marijo Marino, who is the company accountant.
While this year marks the 10th anniversary of Marino’s business, the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic and related protective measures has made it an unconventional time, both in progressive and challenging ways.
“For the last few months, my business has been tremendous. Due to the current state of our nation, as well as the world, we’ve seen a strong interest in numismatics as well as bullion trade. We have been busier than ever,” Marino reported. “Unfortunately, we have also experienced our own family problems during this pandemic. My father and I have parted ways after ten years of working together.”
With this separation and change in business operation, Marino found himself, unexpectedly looking for a new location for Flower Hill Collectables to call home, amid stay-at-home protective orders. Thankfully, Marino said, they located and moved to a new location, still within Long Island, New York, and his family/staff members have transitioned to the new location as well.
Although there is not an over-the-counter presence, Flower Hill Collectables can appraise collections or estates, and focus on the company’s primary mission of wholesale and dealer-to-dealer service and sales.
As someone who has been involved in coin collecting nearly his entire life, Marino explains how his appreciation toward business and personal numismatic interests have changed.
“It continues to grow every year! I feel like once you start understanding the dynamics of numismatics as far as low mintages, variety diagnostics, mint errors, etc. it becomes fun,” Marino explained. “After a decade, the thrill of grading raw coins or attributing varieties has not lost its luster. I really have come to understand why so many dealers never retire.”
Not unlike some others in the numismatic industry, Marino said he doesn’t collect all that many coins anymore but instead has come to thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to find unique coins to purchase and then share the discoveries with customers. However, some coins still pique his collector’s mind, including GSA Morgan Dollars and mint errors.
“I was always fascinated with the history of the Carson City Mint and the story of the GSA Hoard involving President Nixon. I think it is one of the greatest stories in numismatics,” he said. “I just fall in love with the idea of an error coin having been struck and undiscovered for so long.”
Connecting With Community
Involvement in the numismatic community is also an important part of Marino’s professional and personal life. He is an authorized NGC & PCGS dealer, Life Member of the ANA, member of the Certified Coin Exchange, CDN Exchange and Roundtable Trading/Coin Dealers Helping Coin Dealers trading platforms, as well as the Silver Dollar Roundtable, Garden State Numismatic Association (GSNA), and Florida United Numismatists (FUN).
For this long-time numismatist and experienced business owner, the
journey has included paths he could never have imagined, revealed valuable lessons – both difficult and dynamic — and allowed him to work with and learn from people he admires. Also, he enjoys the opportunity to explore the world through the perspective of coins and their place in the past, present, and undoubtedly the future.
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