From the Tribune-Review:

Zee Ann Poerio has a hobby that makes cents.

Poerio, a third-grade teacher at St. Louise de Marillac School in Upper St. Clair, has a collection of a couple hundred coins, including over 100 ancient coins. Her coins span from as early as 400 BC to modern coins. The collection started when she wanted to introduce Latin lessons to her class three years ago.

"I just thought it was really interesting," Poerio says. "The reverence kids have for these coins. Something they hold in their hand is 2000 years old."

Poerio was drawn into the coin collecting world after searching the Internet for ancient coins with Latin inscriptions. That brought her to an organization known as Ancient Coins for Education.

Ancient Coins for Education is a nonprofit organization that provides 4th century AD Roman coins to classrooms for cleaning and attribution.

"The kids really enjoy it," Poerio says. "It's just that they prepared it themselves, and they get to keep it."

For her work in the classroom, Poerio has won numerous awards including the 2004 Ancient Coins for Education Harlan J. Berk Teacher Excellence Award. One of her prizes was a Brutus Gold Stater -- a gold coin from 44 BC. It has an engraving of Alexander the Great on the front, and Athena on the reverse side.

The coin was issued during the Civil War of Rome between 44 and 42 BC. It is in honor of Marcus Iunius Brutus, a Roman senator who ruled from 85 to 42 BC.

Scott Uhrick, an ancient coins expert from Danbury, Conn., says people collect coins for a variety of reasons, including the beauty of the artwork and the history behind the coins.

"I'll go into the classroom and ask who thinks history is boring. A lot of the hands will shoot up," says Uhrick, an IT worker at Oxford Health Systems. "You have to make it real. With the coins, the kids are actually holding something from that era."

Besides being a very affordable hobby, ancient coins are great for connecting history with the present, says Uhrick. He has more than 2000 coins in his personal collection.

"It really is a little handshake from the past," he says. "Coins are by far the most affordable artifact you can put in kids' hands."

Uhrick says would-be coin collectors should start out buying books about coins before buying the coins. It helps to know what you're doing, he says.

"It's a very infectious hobby," Uhrick says. "You start cheap and small, but you need a bigger and bigger fix each time."

Poerio has used her hobby to start what she calls an Ancient Coin Museum. The "museum" runs from April 22-24 at St. Louise de Marillac School, 312 McMurray Road, Upper St. Clair. Ancient Coins for Education helped get coins donated from all over the country. Poerio has even received coins from Canada and overseas.

Poerio says she is really interested in connecting "coins with Classics."

"Ancient coins have such an influence on coins today," she says. "They teach about history, art, mythology and language."

Two comments ... first make sure you give Hobbyblog a visit if you haven't been there lately (I've been pondering the carpentum thing ...); second, I'm curious whether anyone would consider paying 1000.00 $Can. for 28 Roman bronze coins (3rd to 5th century) as packaged on the Shopping Channel last night (seemed to be a major rip to me) ...