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Eight-year-old collector wins 200-year-old half-dollar via 1808 history quiz.
Photo: PR (Garrett Allen at Reno's Southgate Coins)
Out of hundreds of submissions in a coin giveaway contest aimed at Northern Nevada youth, 8-year-old Garrett Allen’s entry was drawn from a drum at Reno’s Southgate Coins by Pati Falk, senior director for elementary education for the Washoe County School District. The August 5 drawing climaxed Southgate Coins’ four-month-long competition—launched during National Coin Week in April—designed to introduce kids to coin collecting and spark interest in American history.
All entrants aged 12 and under, answered six questions pertaining to the year 1808. These questions, with answers, are as follows:
1. Who was the president of the United States in 1808?
2. Who won the presidential election in 1808?
3. How many states were in the Union in 1808?
4. Which well-known leader of the Confederate States of America was born in 1808?
5. Who was the emperor of France in 1808?
6. Which famous German-born Austrian-school-of-music composer premiered his Fifth Symphony in 1808?
Ludwig Von Beethoven
After drawing Allen’s entry, Falk, an educator for 25 years, verified to attendees including members of Reno’s Chamber of Commerce and local TV and newspaper reporters that he had answered all six questions correctly. Proclamations were read commemorating the event, including one from Reno Mayor Robert Cashell. Southgate Coins owner Rusty Goe called Allen on speakerphone to inform him that he’d won the contest, but he was still in school (third grade), so Goe left a message with his 13-year-old brother.
Later that afternoon, Allen and his mother, Fay, arrived at Southgate Coins to claim the prize, an 1808 Capped Bust half-dollar, graded Fine-12 by ANACS and valued at approximately $150. Allen, who was born in 1999, told Goe that he had nearly completed a “P & D” set of statehood quarters, and that he was interested in many other types of coins, including old Lincoln cents.
The young boy, who attends Silver Lake Elementary School in Reno, told Goe that he’s interested in history and that he has studied the Civil War. Goe asked Allen where he found the answers to the questions about 1808. The 8-year-old replied that he looked some of them up on the Internet and that he referred to a book he owns about U.S. presidents. Allen added that his 13-year-old brother, Cole, “who’s really into music,” helped him with the Beethoven answer.
The giveaway, according to Southgate Coins spokesperson Amy Williams, was meant to introduce a younger generation to something out of the ordinary. “Children are very familiar with popular video games such as Iron Man and Grand Theft Auto,” Williams says. “And just about every kid knows all about Hannah Montana and Harry Potter. But how many of them know what happened in 1808 [the year the coin was minted]?” she asks.
5032 S. Virginia St., Reno, NV 89502