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King Tut Medal a Pyramid of Riches?

June 26, 1986|DON ALPERT

Question: In 1972, the firm of Toye, Kenning & Spencer of London struck 100 22-karat gold medals for the Tutankhamen exhibition. Mine is No. 11 of the 100 struck. I realize that there is less appeal for this medal here than, perhaps, England and that there would have been more interest in the Los Angeles area a few years ago when the Tutankhamen exhibition was at the County Museum of Art. Still, I wonder if you can give me some idea of its value today.--G.A.D.

Answer: Medals constitute an interesting area of collecting, although, strictly speaking, purists do not consider them part of numismatics. Coins have monetary value and are backed by the government issuing them. Medals also can be a government issue or they can be privately made. They are produced for award, celebration or commemoration. They are often confused with decorations, which are awards designed to be worn, while medals are not intended for that purpose.

In any event, there are avid medals collectors and organizations to which these collectors belong. Some dealers specialize in medals. You can seek them out through conventional coin dealers or make inquiries at large coin shows. It's hard to pinpoint the value of a piece such as yours. You might want to start by going back to the issuing source. Perhaps they will be interested in repurchasing it, or they might have a customer who is. They might at least know what the Tutankhamen medal is selling for in the secondary market.

Another possibility is to consign your medal to an auction company that deals with such material. Many coin auctions will include medals and related material. The auctioneer usually will have some idea as to its worth. The important thing is to find people who are interested in such items. Your medal has a built-in rarity factor. Unfortunately, it probably also has limited buyer interest.

Q: I have two Morgan dollars, 1889 and 1921. How much would they be worth? They're in good condition, though tarnished. Also, would like to know the value of a half-mark 1905 Deutsche Reich, a little worn but with good definition. Since this coin is so old, how many are still around?--O.G.K.

A: Your Morgan dollars are worth $8 each and up. The German half mark is worth $3. Damned if I know how many are still around. Furthermore, in most cases with foreign currency, unless you're talking about rarities, it really doesn't matter.

Q: I am writing in regard to a coin I have had for years and years. I would like to know its value. It is a penny with 13 stars and a Liberty head. On the other side is United States of America and the date 1849.--M.M.S.

A: Your coin is a large cent. More than 4 million were produced in 1849. Yours is probably in the $3-to-$5 range although superior specimens could be worth $200 or so.

Q: Several times I have received paper bills that are off-printed. Are these of any value to collectors or worth more than face value?--L.M.

A: The fact that you've found several bills that are off-center is the tip-off. Error bills, like error coins, do carry a premium. But the reason is that the error is substantial. The bills you describe are not uncommon at all. The wider margins are caused by paper shift during printing, and this is not great enough to merit collector attention or warrant extra value.

Q: I possess a $5 bill Series of 1914 (it's an old, big bill) with the face marked B-578537660 2-B. Of what value is this, and where do I find collectors of coins?--R.F.I.

A: Your bill, if used, is probably worth about $8 to $10. If I understand the second part of your question correctly, you're either looking for buyers or perhaps you wish to get more deeply involved in numismatics. To find a buyer, check with local coin dealers or contact a coin club or attend a coin show where there are many dealers in attendance. To pursue numismatics, plunge in by reading as much as you can on the subject, then start working with one or more dealers, concentrating on grading and market trends.

Q: I have a medallion that celebrates the California bicentennial (1769-1969). On the obverse there's a bear in relief and the reverse has the legend "The Golden Land" with eight human figures representing the history of the state. The rim is stamped the Medallic Art Co., N.Y., and .999 pure silver. The diameter is 2 1/2 inches. Could you estimate its value?--A.J.G.

A: Offhand, I'd say your medallion is only worth the bullion price of the silver. While there is a market for tokens and medals, it is not always clearly defined. Which brings up the point: What was the bicentennial your medallion observed? California became a state in 1849. I imagine it has to do with the Spanish explorers; it's been a long time since I studied California history in grade school here.

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