Question: I have two silver dollars, which are a gift. Each is sealed in a plastic container that says Carson City uncirculated silver dollar. Inside the top cover is a printed message: "As we approach America's Bicentennial, this historic silver dollar is one of the most valued reminders of our national heritage.--Richard Nixon." The coins are dated 1883-CC and 1884-CC, and there's a numbered card with the story of the Carson City coins and the phrase U.S. Government/1972. I am interested to know the approximate value of each coin.--A.W. LaC.
Answer: Your coins are part of a public sale of Carson City dollars in 1972 and 1973. These coins were considered surplus and had been languishing in government vaults all these years. They had not been released for circulation because the bulky silver dollar had fallen from popularity. But there was considerable public interest in the sale.
The coins were issued in a plastic container, such as you described, and are still coveted by collectors. They are traded openly at coin shows and by dealers. Although the Carson City dollars (so-called because of the CC mint mark standing for the Carson City Mint, where they were produced) were considered uncirculated, the quality of the coins varied widely. Many were heavily bag-marked while others were proof-like and very desirable.
Your Carson City dollars (an additional government hoard was sold by the General Services Administration at a later sale) originally went for about $30 each. Bullion silver was in the $3-to-$4 range. They are now worth about $100 each and up, depending upon condition.
Q: I have some coins that I recently inherited. I would like to know what value they are to me and how to find out some more about them. My first coin is a 1776 Continental currency with the phrase "mind your business" written on the front and "we are one" and the 13 colonies on the back. The second coin is a 1933 Roosevelt-Luck Tillicum coin with the phrase "Road to Prosperity" on it. The final coin is an 1855 large cent that has a hole on the top. How much does something like this devalue the coin? I have various foreign coins and would like to know the best source for looking up these coins.--T.H.
A: Continental currency is quite valuable when it is genuine. Unfortunately, there are a lot more replicas around than genuine pieces. There's no use getting all excited over the inheritance until you have your coin authenticated. Check with some local dealers; if they are unable to satisfy your curiosity, the American Numismatic Assn. in Colorado Springs, Colo., offers such a service for a fee. The Roosevelt piece is a token, probably in the $2-to-$5 range. Holed coins lose just about all their value as collector pieces. In a hobby that relishes pristine specimens, those that have been defaced are unwelcome in most collections. To evaluate foreign coins, the basic general reference is the "Standard Catalogue of World Coins" by Krause and Mishler.
Q: I have a coin I hope you can help me with. On one side is printed The Anglesey Mines Halfpenny with the date 1789 on the top and initials BMG in the middle in very ornate script. On the other side, there are leaves around the coin, and in the middle is a profile. Around the outside edge is incised Payable in Anglesey or Liverpool.--C.E.
A: I believe you have a token rather than a coin, and the elaborate initials are characteristic of love tokens, something like personalized license plates.
If you really want to get into the subject, you might contact the Tokens and Medals Society, a nationally chartered organization devoted to exonumia. It was founded in 1960.
For information, contact TAMS secretary Dorothy Baber, 611 Oakwood Way, El Cajon, Calif. 92021.
Coin News Fantasy coins are those that appear to be real but are not issued by official authorities. Such is the case with the new commemorative (pictured) from Hutt River Province in Australia. If it doesn't bother you that the province is not recognized in Australia or elsewhere, then perhaps the piece by Hal Reed, a Los Angeles artist, will have some collector interest. It marks the 100th anniversary of the automobile and is available in one-ounce silver ($25 denomination) and 22-karat gold (almost one-quarter troy ounce). The silver proof, limited to 5,000 copies, is $37.50; the gold-proof sovereign, limited to 2,000, is $195. They may be ordered from Philip Wing & Co., P.O. Box 38351, Cincinnati, Ohio 45238.
Don Alpert cannot answer mail personally but will respond to numismatic questions of general interest in this column. Do not telephone. Write to Your Coins, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.