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Numismatics and the Electronics Age

February 20, 1986|DON ALPERT

Personally, I prefer the one-to-one, head-to-head transaction of collector to dealer. Not only is there a give and take but also an exchange of ideas and information and a certain camaraderie that can add to the pleasure of collecting. However, there's no denying that numismatics is heading headlong into the Electronics Age.

Two recent developments add to the already existing systems. Perhaps the most significant is Teletrade, which utilizes the telephone to expedite transactions.

Bernard Rome, founder of the firm, says: "We are not a dealer or an investment firm. We are simply an exchange for bringing together buyers and sellers. In this respect, Teletrade is a numismatic equivalent to the New York Stock Exchange."

Participants use the system by calling a toll-free number and giving the computer a special code. Callers then will be given the lowest asking price and the highest bid price for coins they inquire about. Only coins graded by the American Numismatic Assn. Certification Service will be traded on Teletrade. Participants will pay $20 monthly for Teletrade's services. For information, contact Teletrade at 375 Park Ave., New York, N.Y. 10022 or telephone (800) 223-5554.

Another recently announced service is the International Collectors Network, which utilizes a computerized bulletin board for buying and selling everything from coins to baseball cards, post cards, old books, autographs and other collectibles. Computer bulletin boards are not new, but utilizing them in an organized fashion as a buy-sell outlet offers yet another electronic dimension for those with personal computers. For information, contact the International Collectors Network, 2265 Westwood Blvd., No. 801, Los Angeles, Calif. 90064; telephone (213) 204-0646.

Question: Could you please advise me of the value of U.S. 1865 3-cent and 1868 2-cent coins? I rarely have seen these coins. Why is it they appear unpopular with collectors?--S.S.G.

Answer: Your 3-cent piece, undoubtedly nickel rather than the rare silver of the same date (but different design), is one of more than 11.3 million issued. Your 2-cent piece is one of more than 2.8 million. Both are worth $3 each and up. But the point is that they're in plentiful supply and, as you indicate, unpopular with collectors. Well, I'm not sure of their unpopularity, exactly, especially with type collectors. But it's true that certain denominations will appeal to more collectors than others. Right now, silver dollars and gold are big. Next year it could be commemoratives, and, who knows, maybe after that the 3-cent and 2-cent denominations will have their day. Some of it has to do with collector tastes. Some of it is due to promotional manipulation.

Coin News

A souvenir card commemorating the American Numismatic Assn.'s midwinter convention in Salt Lake City, Wednesday through March 2, is being issued by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The card depicts the reverse of a Series 1901, $10 U.S. note (pictured). The central design features an allegorical vignette of "Progress" in the form of a woman. Souvenir cards cost $4 by mail. Order item No. 920 by check or money order made payable to "BEP." Send to Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Mail Order Sales, Room 602-11A, 14th and C streets, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20228.

Veteran Los Angeles and Orange County coin dealer Joel Rettew is consolidating his operation by moving all of his interests to his Palm Springs location. Previously, Rettew also worked out of his Beverly Hills store. "It just got to be too much, commuting back and forth," Rettew said. He has been in Palm Springs since 1981 at 201 N. Indian Ave.; telephone (619) 320-9934. Ray Burns will continue to manage his Palm Springs shop.

Coin Calendar

Saturday and Sunday--The second semiannual Pasadena Center Coin, Stamp and Fine Jewelry Show will be in the Conference Building at Pasadena Center, 300 E. Green St., Pasadena. Fifty dealers are expected to participate. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $1. For information: (213) 828-2664.

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.

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