Thursday, November 22, 2001
Not just a matter of dollars
The King of Coins will soon serve the King of Kings.
That is how Phil Flannagan gives thanks.
On this day of Thanksgiving, he plans to count his blessings as he prepares to give them away.
A week from Friday, his unique collection of silver dollars goes on the auction block in Baltimore. He's donating the proceeds to help build a planned $7 million expansion for Warren County's Middletown Christian School.
The Flannagan Collection includes the King of Coins, a rare 1804 silver dollar. Only 15 exist.
Three years after he bought the coin, he's putting it up for auction. Bidding starts at $500,000. The last time one of these coins was sold at auction, in 1997, it went for $4.1 million.
How Phil Flannagan amassed a fortune in coins and decided to give it away is a Thanksgiving story of faith, admiration and wonder.
This 48-year-old man's faith is so strong he's donating his earthly possessions to do good and further the cause of Christ.
His firm beliefs are to be admired. They make you wonder how you would give thanks if you were in his shoes.
Phil Flannagan does not come from wealth. I'm a Lebanon boy. Born and raised. Still lives there. Graduated from Lebanon High School. Went to work at Kroger as a bagger.
His dad worked on the assembly line at the Frigidaire plant. His mom was a housewife.
Phil stayed on at Kroger. Moved up to head dairy clerk before taking an early retirement. He was making more money a small fortune and having more fun at his second job, selling guns and owning a firearms distributor.
Collecting coins made him happiest. He started early. At age 5.
Pennies, nickels, dimes caught his eye.
They're pretty. But to enjoy them you have to have a magnifying glass. I wanted something big to look at.
1804 silver dollar
He thanks his Uncle Ralph for starting his collection of silver dollars.
My uncle carried a pocket piece, a special coin. It was a worn, 1922 silver dollar. Many, many times I'd ask him to show it to me.
One day, when I was 7 or 8, I asked to see it. He took it out of his pocket and said, "You can have it.' At the time, I thought it was worth more than anything in the world.
Forty years later, Phil Flannagan will sell silver dollars worth millions and donate the proceeds.
Ownership of these coins is not what it's all about, he said. Giving them away, doing good with them is what matters.
He kept one silver dollar from his collection. It's worn. And dated 1922.
To a coin dealer, it's worth $4. To Phil Flannagan, it's priceless.
That silver dollar belonged to his Uncle Ralph.
I'll have that forever, Phil said.
He keeps it as a reminder. Of what gifts can do. And whom to thank.
Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saks to get $6.6M subsidy
Giving thanks for those who serve
From far away, a new family
Family, friends mourn boy who always smiled
Armed man sought in slaying
Guard unit headed to Kuwait
Tristate A.M. Report
CROWLEY: Ky. Politics
RADEL: Rare gifts
Deerfield Twp. OKs payouts for retiring workers
Mason plans Christmas event
Churches seek probe of game lobby
Electric chair banned in Ohio
Judge told to reconsider abortion case
Police chief not charged in attack on football coach
Brothers fondly recalled
FBI: 'Potbellied bandit' wanted
Flaig will run for second term
OxyContin overdose kills tot
Rain takes care of Ky. wildfires
Schrand in county atty. race