Last week, class, we discussed rarities. The question posed by a reader dealt with relatively recent issues with fewer than 100 mintages. As you undoubtedly recall, these coins did not meet the strictest numismatic definition of a rarity, although they're still considered scarce and, perhaps, a good long-range investment--although there's never any way of knowing for sure. The known rarities and scarcities with proven price records and wide collector interest invariably perform better in the coin marketplace than some of the newer, exotic issues.
Which, coincidentally, brings us to this week's mail and an announcement about a new coin (pictured) portraying President and Mrs. Reagan. The 1-ounce silver proof piece with $25 face value is being sold for $37.50 by Philip Wing & Co., P. O. Box 38351, Cincinnati, Ohio 45238. Only 5,000 of these coins are being minted. Oh, they come from the Principality of Hutt River Province.
What? You never heard of the Principality of Hutt River Province? Well, neither had I. But a call to Philip Wing & Co. proved enlightening. Philip Wing wasn't there, but someone named Earl (no last name) fielded the questions.
"Hutt River? It's in Western Australia," Earl said. "It's run by a man who calls himself Prince Leonard. He seceded from Australia."
Doesn't the government of Australia object to this? I wondered.
"No," Earl assured me. "As long as he pays his taxes, they don't seem to mind at all."
But is it legal tender?
"They're worth $25 in Hutt River," Earl said.
Where are they minted?
"Somewhere in North America," Earl answered. "I don't remember where."
Is the Principality of Hutt River Province listed in any of the coin books?
"Just a minute. . . . No," Earl said, "I don't see it listed yet."
It seems, I suggested, that people will buy darn near anything.
"That's true," Earl said. "We don't have too many left. You know, I saw an ad a while back for rusty nails. From log cabins, I believe. You just never know . . . ."
Even though Earl answered my questions forthrightly, one more call seemed in order to the Australian governmental office in Los Angeles. Again I inquired about the Principality of Hutt River Province.
"It's just a private ranch," Jitka Visek of the Australian office said. "It's not recognized as a country in its own right."
But what about Prince Leonard and the Reagan coin?
"He can do whatever he likes," Visek said. "The coins have no value. If you take them to a bank they won't honor them, will they?"
Question: I have a Lincoln Cent Premium Card, 1909-1938, which I have had since 1940. I do not know the condition of each coin, but all seem clear, not worn and readable. Missing are the 1909-S, 1909-SVDB, 1912-D, 1914-D, 1915, 1916-S and D, 1924-D, 1930, 1931, 1931-S and D, 1933, 1933-D and 1938-D. I would like to sell this incomplete set.--P.S.
Answer: Even though your set is incomplete and most of the key dates are missing, it still is possibly worth about $75.