updated 02/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 02/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST
Mark Chrans, 18, recalls that his parents were not too concerned when he dropped out of high school in Springfield, Ill. his sophomore, year; his finances were already in mint condition. Last year penny-wise Chrans grossed $2.5 million and pocketed as much as $6,000 a week dealing in rare U.S. coins—90 percent from investors and fellow dealers, and the rest through his retail store in Springfield. Mark's interest in numismatics was sparked at age 11 when his mother (Chrans' parents are divorced) gave him an $8 starter kit. Soon Chrans was flying out of town alone on weekends to catch major coin shows in New York, L.A. and Boston. His grades slipped but revenues soared; by the time Chrans quit school he had amassed a $30,000 inventory and was earning $600 a week. So far the most valuable coin he has traded was a 1910 $20 gold piece he bought for $90,000 and sold the next day for $98,000. Confident he'll be a millionaire by the time he's 21, Chrans is already learning to live like one. He drives a Lincoln, a Mercedes 450 SL and a 17-foot powerboat. For all Mark's savvy, dealers sometimes regard him as just another fascinated kid. "But when I tell them I'll pay $5,000 for a certain 1854 gold dollar," he allows, "they get serious."