Question: I have a United States Liberty silver-dollar proof coin and also a half-dollar proof coin, both in a gift box. I bought them from my bank. I'd like to know if they will ever be valuable. I paid $24 for the dollar and $7.50 for the half dollar.--C.G.
Answer: Undoubtedly, you have the new Statue of Liberty coins. As I mentioned before, the Statue of Liberty sets with gold half eagles ($5 pieces) have made spectacular gains. Whether these coins remain on the plus side or eventually drop in value remains to be seen.
This is especially true of the proof $1 and 50-cent pieces you purchased. These coins have already made modest advances, but it's much too early to tell what their long-range potential might be.
A trend-setting Los Angeles dealer is currently offering the two-piece Statue of Liberty set (dollar and half dollar) for $37.50. Single dollars are being sold for $29.50 and halves are $10.25. The three-piece proof set, which includes the $5 gold piece, is $475, while the three-piece uncirculated set is $675. The $5 proof half eagle is $450 alone; the $5 uncirculated is $645. All prices are more than the original issue price.
While everyone would like to turn a profit, the important thing to remember, especially when purchasing commemorative coins, is that they have historical significance beyond their profit potential.
Some people have coins they wouldn't part with, no matter what they might be worth. Buy coins that appeal to you. That way, should they go down in value, you can still enjoy them for what they are. This is especially true with new issues, not necessarily with investment-quality coins.
Q: Enclosed is a copy of my uncle's U.S. Post Office money order for $1, dated Sept. 18, 1918. It carries a rate of interest of 2% per year since that time. My questions: What is this legally worth at the post office today? As a collector's item? Your recommendations?--R.M.B.
A: I don't know the answer to this one. You can be pretty confident that the money order has not been earning interest all these years. The government has ways of plugging loopholes like that. To be sure, check with a local postal official. However, it probably has a slight collector value. I would put it in the $1-to-$5 range. The trick is to find a buyer.
Q: Does paper money have any value? I have a $2 bill Series 1963-A.--M.J.D.
A: Yes, some paper money is quite valuable. Others, like yours, are just face value.
A Liberty Bell print (pictured) will be offered at the American Numismatic Assn.'s 95th convention Wednesday to Aug. 10 in Milwaukee. It will also be available by mail from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The engraving, from a 19th-Century hand Spider press, is $16.50. Order item No. 420 from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Mail Order Sales, Room 602-11A, 14th and C streets S.W., Washington, D.C. 20228. Also available are souvenir cards featuring the face of a second issue (1863-1867), the 5-cent fractional currency note. The mint souvenir card is $4 by mail, item No. 928.
A mail-bid sale, "Ancient and Modern Coins of the World and the United States," is being offered by Coin Galleries, a division of Stack's. More than 4,000 coins are listed in the catalogue. For a copy, contact Coin Galleries, 123 West 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10019.
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.