Chemicals to Coins

A career change from IT Pharmaceuticals in the UK, to an Apprentice Coin Dealer in Australia!

Firstly let me introduce myself, I’m Sean Forrest, Andrew’s right hand man, offsider, that English bloke who answers the phone, or officially known as his apprentice.

It was around this time 3 years ago that I graduated from university with a degree in International Business. The plan at that stage was to begin a career in the world of Information Technology (IT).  Fresh from university, and eager to get ahead in life I applied to join a graduate scheme for the role of Business Development Manager with a fair size organisation in the UK. A month later I resigned from the company due to a problem with my contract.

At this point my Dad suggested I worked for him within his own small Pharmaceutical consultancy business till I found my feet again. Having worked for him for 8 months I decided to follow a sporting ambition, which was to play rugby league in Australia for a season. This is where I meet Andrew, through the Fremantle Roosters Rugby League club.  

The plan was to take a year off from the UK, play some rugby league and do some travelling around Australia. My flight back home was scheduled for October 2010. Well here we are nearing the end of August 2012 and I’m still here in Australia.

When I started working for Andrew it was on a part time basis for 6 months, implementing a new Point of Sales Software. Prior to this I had never even known that people collected coins and banknotes, and was astonished when I had a look on the website to see some of the prices the coins were worth. It’s fair to say it was quiet a challenging 6 months, and there were a few issues along the way, however we got there in the end and the new system has definitely helped to make us more efficient in creating invoices and buying items through the shop.

After my 6 months with Andrew and the rugby season drawing to a close I did some travelling around Australia. In order to extend my working holiday visa by a further 12 months I needed to undertake 3 months working in rural Australia.  This was completed working on an Iron Ore mine site north of Newman in the Pilbara.

Upon completion I returned to Fremantle to play a second season for the Roosters.  Looking for work, Andrew said he had a few odd jobs at the shop I could help him with. It was at this stage that I first got an appreciation for coins. The odd jobs were to photograph a complete set of Australian sovereigns and half sovereigns, and to help out around the shop with sending out ebay and website orders.    

In January of this year my visa was heading towards expiry.  The thought of returning to the UK was not one that brought a smile to the face.  Andrew suggested the idea that if I wanted to stay in Australia for longer he would be prepared to sponsor me through the business and train me up as an apprentice coin and banknote dealer.

Here we are then currently 8 months into a two year sponsored work contract as an apprentice coin and banknote dealer. In terms of learning Australian and world coins and banknotes I have barely scratched the surface.

The area of the market that I am mainly focusing on are modern issue coins, which we trade on ebay. I’ve also developed an interest in Australian Pre-Decimal copper coins. Andrew has given me a coin album to fill, the current focus is on collecting pennies and half pennies.

I’ve attended 3 ANDA coin & banknote fairs, which have been really enjoyable. As part of my training at each fair Andrew has given me $500.00 to spend, the aim is to try and make a profit from buying things off other dealers at the show. The results have been varied with both wins and losses, but the overall lessons learnt from these fairly small deals have been invaluable.

The main skill that I have progressed has been my photography skills.  When I first began taking photos I found the task a bit of a chore. However now that I have more of an appreciation to a coin’s history and provenence, there is nothing more satisfying than taking a great photograph of a rare or valuable coin and it selling on the website as soon as it is listed.

Well I’ve hoped you’ve enjoyed this insight into how I fell into the industry.  The majority of people in the industry have a fair few years on me, however what they have on me in years, I hope to even the odds with my passion and enthusiasm to learn to get ahead. 

Fingers crossed my debut featuring in Andrew’s newsletter won’t be my last, and if anyone has any tips or advice for me I'm all ears, just add a comment below, I'd love to hear from you.


Sean Forrest
Apprentice Coin & Banknote Dealer