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No Simple Answer on When to Sell Proof Sets

December 19, 1985|DON ALPERT

Question: I would appreciate some information in regard to my purchases of United States proof coin sets, which I have collected since 1964. They don't seem to have gone up in value. What is their potential or should I sell them now?--B.S.

Answer: U.S. proof sets and uncirculated sets have become quite popular with collectors. Once you begin to save them, you want to have the entire date set. The modern proof sets were first minted in 1936 while the modern mint sets were issued in 1947. Had you begun to collect these sets from the onset, you'd be way ahead. But since you started in 1964 with proof sets, you have not made out that well.

The main thing to keep in mind, however, is that the primary reason to collect is not necessarily to make a profit. You should do so for the fun, recreational and educational values involved. If you happen to make a profit in the process, so much the better. Also, just because some of your sets might not have appreciated in value since you purchased them does not mean that they might not eventually do so.

As it is, some of your sets have gone up in value. Your 1964 proof set, for example, cost $2.10. It is now worth about $11. The 1968 set cost $5, and you can get about $5.30 for it. However, it would cost about $6.40 to buy one from a dealer.

Sets from 1981 to the present cost $11 each, and they have all dipped slightly in value insofar as the sell price is concerned, except for the 1983, which is worth about $11.80. So, you see, not all of the sets are losers, but all cost more from a dealer than the original issue price.

If you were lucky enough to buy a 1936 proof set, which cost $1.89 at the time of issue, you'd be able to sell it today for about $3,700. Not a bad profit. So, you can see that there is no hard-and-fast answer to your question about selling out now. Frankly, I don't think anyone knows the answer for sure. Go ahead and sell if you've grown tired of your coins. Hang on to them if you enjoy the beauty and significance each set represents.

Coins are a commodity that can be bought, sold or traded on a very free market. The choice, ultimately, of when, if and how to dispose of a collection is very personal and must be made on an individual basis, depending on financial and other considerations. No one knows for sure what the potential of these coins will be. Or how many years it might take to get there. Sell, if you must; otherwise you have very little to lose. If nothing else, the coins are always worth face value.

Q: I would appreciate your evaluation of the following coins, which have recently come into my possession. Each of the coins is an Indian-head cent with the following dates: 1890, 1897, 1900, 1901, 1903 and 1907.--M.S.

A: Your Indian-head cents are very common dates. In today's market, they start at about 50 cents each and up, depending on condition.

Q: I would like to know the value of half dollars dated 1943-S, 1953-S and 1955. Also, a 1983 one-quarter-ounce Canadian maple-leaf gold coin.--Y.H.P.

A: Your half dollars are worth $2.50 each and up, depending upon condition. The Canadian gold piece is about $95.

Q: My grandmother has Philippine gold coins dated 1863, 1864 and 1868 issued during the Spanish occupation. On one side is a woman's picture and the words Isabel 2 Por La G./De Dios Y La Const. On the other side is a coat of arms with a crow above it and two posts on each side. It has the words Reina de las Espanas; 4 P/Filipinas. She also has a $10 American gold coin (1899) in almost-uncirculated condition. Could you tell me the value?--F.P. III

A: Your Philippine gold pieces are worth $125 each. The $10 gold eagle is $250 and up.

Q: I have four small coins exactly like the enclosed picture except the denomination is R. They are in fair condition (my description) with dates ranging from 1770 to 1802. Also one larger piece with 1 R.T.H. denomination. Any history and/or value?--K.R.B.

A: Your coins are Spanish reals, probably one-half or one real denomination. These coins circulated widely during America's formative years and before the Colonies produced their own coinage. They're fun to own, but most do not command a great premium.

Q: My daughter's husband found a coin in the desert. It's about the size of a penny. The face of the coin has V. Beaudry, U.S. Cavalry, 1st REG. On the reverse is ONE DOLLAR, 100, Korhlew. Do you know any history for this coin? Does it have an value? Possibly it was some kind of scrip used by the U.S. Army in the 1800s.--J.E.F.

A: Well, you have me stumped. It's not a recognizable coin; probably it's a token of some sort. Material such as this is very difficult to track down. Perhaps someone in the reading audience has the answer.

Q: What value, if any, do the following have? A 1904 Indian-head penny; 1873 half dime; 1835 25-cent Liberty; 1851 one-cent Binghampton Chapter No. 139 R.A.M.--J.F.C.

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