Question: Some time ago I purchased $20 Saint-Gaudens that were certified by the dealer as grade MS 63/65. I would appreciate knowing the present value of these coins with the mixed grade and also any other information regarding the Saint-Gaudens in general.--M.M.
Answer: The coin you are referring to is the $20 gold piece, a double eagle, which is named after its designer, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The coin is considered the most beautiful of any in a United States series. It depicts a standing Miss Liberty on the obverse and a flying eagle on the reverse. The coin was minted from 1907, the year Saint-Gaudens died, until 1933, when the United States went off the gold standard. Saint-Gaudens also designed the $10 Indian-head gold eagle, also first issued in 1907. He is considered one of America's most distinguished sculptors and was commissioned in an unprecedented move by President Theodore Roosevelt to design the highly desirable gold pieces.
Your letter also brings out two interesting aspects of coin grading and pricing. You indicate that the grading is certified by the dealer. That's fine, as long as the dealer also agrees to repurchase the coins at the same grade. Other dealers might well disagree with the earlier assessment. This can lead to all sorts of problems, usually not in the collector's favor.
The other aspect is the split grading. A split grade simply means that one side is graded differently from the other. The first grade listed is for the obverse. Generally, split-grade coins are sold for the lowest grade, although there might be a slight premium involved for a particularly nice specimen.
If your Saint-Gaudens are common date and the certified grading you have is correct, then you could probably sell them to a dealer for about $1,200 each.
They sell to collectors in the $1,500-to-$1,600 range, give or take a little depending upon eye appeal. Because grading is subjective, many factors go into determining price.
Q: Would you be good enough to tell me the approximate value of the following: 1838 large cent; 1865 2 cent; 1826 half cent; 1964 half dollar; 1916, 1936 and 1939 quarters; 1962 and 1964 dimes; 1961, 1962 and 1964 nickels; 1861, 1858 and 1943 cents; silver dollars from 1870 to 1925; a Federal Reserve Note dated Dec. 23, 1913, plus several Confederate bills?--V.L.H.
A: Your large cent is worth $3 and up, the 2 cent is $2 and up, the half cent $10 and up, the Kennedy half is $2.50, the quarters are $1.25 each and up, the dimes 50 cents each, the nickels have no collector value, the 1861 and 1858 cents are $5 each and up, the 1943 cent probably has no collector value, the 1887 to 1925 dollars are $9 each and up. The 1870 dollar is $100 and up, and the 1879 dollar (better double check the date on this one) is a proof-only issue trade dollar and worth more than $2,000. The Federal Reserve Note is $10 to $15 while the Confederate bills are in the $2-to-$5 range.
A set of three coins honoring the 38th independence day of Israel is being offered as silver and gold commemoratives in a "Tribute to the Arts." The brilliant uncirculated 1 shekel will have a maximum mintage of 11,000, the proof 2 shekels will have a mintage of 10,000 and the one-half troy ounce gold 10 shekels (pictured) will have a mintage of 4,000. Reservations for these coins must be made before March 15 by writing the Israel Government Coins and Medals Corp., 350 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10118.
Many rare and condition-census coins are being offered in a March 18, 19 and 20 auction conducted by Stack's in New York's Omni Park Central Hotel. To obtain a catalogue of the more than 1,400 lots, contact Stack's at 123 West 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10019; telephone (212) 582-2580.
A new edition of "The World of Coins and Coin Collecting" by David Ganz (Scribner's: $22.50) is now available. The updated second edition includes pricing, new issues and the changing status of gold coins as an investment. Ganz, legislative counsel to the American Numismatic Assn., knows his stuff, and the book belongs on every serious collector's bookshelf as a reference guide.
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.