Readers Dicky and Vista Clark recently came across more than 200 of the gems, which were created to celebrate the Johnson City Press’ 40th anniversary in 1974. The newspaper is now 83 years old.
The newspaper debuted June 12, 1934, with Carl A. Jones Sr. co-founding the publication. The Press soon absorbed the town’s two other papers, the Staff News (founded in 1918) and The Johnson City Chronicle (founded in 1921).
The company continued to publish the Chronicle as a morning paper through 1943, when it merged its two papers into the Johnson City Press-Chronicle. The newspaper returned to its original name, Johnson City Press, in 1985.
The Jones family roots run deep at the Press, although they sold it and their other media outlets in 2002 to Sandusky Newspaper Group.
John A. Jones, a grandson of Carl Jones Sr. and the son of Carl A. Jones Jr., said his father purchased 500 commemorative coins through an advertising specialties sales rep from Johnson City.
“I think he bought a big box of 500 and nearly all were stamped with an image the company created,” John Jones said recently.
The coins were stamped on both sides, with one bearing an image of the sculpture "Media" that is mounted on the front wall of the newspaper and created by Robert Cook.
“Dad also purchased about 50 of the coins stamped on sterling silver and gave them to good friends and family,” he said.
“There were two significant reasons he was attracted to the coins. One was the sculpture had just been mounted on the building in 1973 upon completion of the enlarged and renovated newspaper building and was somewhat of an "item" in the community at the time. Also, the U.S Mint had stopped using silver for coinage in 1972 and coin collecting and numismatic interest was at an all-time high at the time.”
Jones didn’t say if he knew the value of the coins in today’s market.
Clark, a self-described collector of things he finds interesting, ran across the coins in a most unlikely place — the Carter County landfill.
“I had unloaded a load of debris at the landfill and noticed a coin,” Clark said in explaining how he found the coins. “So being curious I picked it up and wondered about it's origin. But then I noticed another one so I picked it up and low and behold there were more — approximately 225 more.”
Clark said he isn’t sure what he’ll end up doing with the coins, but for now they’re safely tucked away.