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Mint Marks Help Set Value of Issues

July 11, 1985|DON ALPERT

Question: In a recent issue of The Times, I saw an ad offering some old, dated silver dollars. I have the following silver dollars, all in excellent condition; will you tell me the approximate value of each and where I should attempt to sell them? Dates are 1878, 1889, 1921 and 1923. I cannot find any mint letters, but that may be because I don't know where to look.--D.R.T.

Answer: It is helpful to know the location of a coin's mint mark because the value of a coin is often influenced by that mark, which serves as an identification. Coins from the Philadelphia Mint, for example, have a P identification or no mark at all. Coins from Denver have a D; those from San Francisco carry an S. West Point takes a W, New Orleans an O, and there are several others, all helping to indicate how many coins were struck, which in turn helps determine worth. Also, coins from certain mints were better struck than coins from other mints.

Your silver dollars, most likely, are two types: Morgan and Peace. Each has a distinctive design. The Morgan dollar has a full head of Miss Liberty on the obverse and a spread eagle on the reverse.

These coins were minted from 1878 to 1921, and the mint mark is on the reverse, below the wreath. Peace dollars, which mark the victory in World War I, were issued from 1921 to 1935. Therefore, two types of U.S. dollars are both dated 1921. But since the 1921 Peace dollar was made in high relief, I suspect your only Peace dollar is the one dated 1923. The Liberty design and eagle on the Peace dollar are quite different from the Morgan, and even a neophyte need not be confused. The Peace dollar mint mark is on the reverse at the lower tip of the eagle's wing. If there is no mint mark on either the Morgan or Peace dollar, the coin is from Philadelphia.

Values of Morgan and Peace dollars vary depending upon condition and mint mark. There is no way to evaluate a coin without actual inspection, and since grading is subjective, no two persons are likely to evaluate a coin the same way. The basic price for your dollars is $10 each. Then, it's a matter of condition and what buyer and seller are able to agree upon.

The best way to sell coins is through a dealer. It is to your advantage to learn as much about your coins as possible in order to get the best price. If you are unable or unwilling to educate yourself on grading and nuances of the marketplace, then at least check with two or three buyers before you decide on which way to go.

Q: I have the following coins: Monroe Doctrine Centennial 1823-1923 half dollars; 1847 and 1907 half dollars; 1892 Colombian half dollar; 1925 $2.50 Indian gold piece; 1922 through 1928 dollars; 1912 Liberty-head nickel; 1853 large cent; 1867 Shield nickel; 1932 Washington quarters, and a large quantity of commemorative 1776-1976 quarters and half dollars. Shall I continue to save them or spend them?--W.M.K.

A: Your Monroe commemorative half dollars are $10 and up; the 1847 and 1907 halves are $3 each and up; the Colombian half is $6 and up; your quarter eagle is $175 and up; the Peace and Morgan dollars are $10 each and up; the 1912 nickel is $1; the large cent is $2; the Shield nickel is $4, and the Washington quarters are $1.25 each. Bicentennial quarters have no collector value at this time due to the vast number minted. There's no way of knowing whether they will eventually carry a premium.

Q: What do you know about the $20 gold piece, Blake & Co. Assayers? I know that there are supposed to be only two coins like this in the world. My coin is not gold all the way through. It is gold laid over another metal that my jeweler could not recognize. I was shrugged off by the Smithsonian and Stack's (a large, national dealer) without any curiosity being shown. This has been bothering me for 14 years. Now I intend to do everything in my power to find out if I have a complete dud or something with a certain historical value.--D.G.

A: As you indicate, only two copies of the Blake & Co. coin you describe are known. It is a rarity of the highest order. What you own is probably a copy. It was not intended to be a counterfeit since its composition contains other base metals. If you want to satisfy your curiosity completely, you can send it for authentication to the American Numismatic Assn. Certification Services, P. O. Box 2366, Colorado Springs, Colo. 80901. Write first before shipping.

Q: I have a George Washington proof 1982 and another of the same coin uncirculated. Both are in silver. What are they worth?--J.L.

A: Your Washington commemorative half dollars are worth $10 each.

Coin News

Israel is issuing an official state commemorative medal (pictured) marking the 40th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany. One side of the medal features the monument to Jewish soldiers recently erected in Jerusalem. The inscription in English and Hebrew reads: Glory be to the Jewish Soldiers & Partisans 1939-1945. The reverse depicts a soldier holding a torch of freedom in one hand and a globe in the other. Medals are $10 each for a 2-inch bronze edition, $33 for a sterling-silver, dollar-size edition and $97 for a nearly quarter-ounce, 14-karat gold version. Order from the Israel Government Coins & Medals Corp., Liaison Office for North America, 350 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10118.

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