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Video Lets Collectors Get the Big Numismatic Picture

August 28, 1986|DON ALPERT

Modern technology and numismatics have finally crossed paths. Veteran coin writer Lee Martin has produced a video called "Our Current Coins." It may not be the first for coin collectors, but it's the first to cross my desk. In fact, Martin tried his hand at an earlier video, "Stretched U.S. Coins," showing how elongated coins are produced, and gave a retrospective of the 1892-93 Chicago World's Fair.

"Our Current Coins" examines modern United States coinage, including the Lincoln cent, the Jefferson nickel, the Roosevelt dime, the Washington quarter, the Kennedy half dollar and the Susan B. Anthony dollar. Martin narrates the video in a folksy, casual manner with a good general discussion on each of the coins. The overall result is an unpolished, leisurely, anecdotal, conversational stroll down Numismatic Lane. Technically, the video leaves a lot to be desired, but factually it offers a good overview of the subject.

The video does not attempt to get into the grading controversy, but it does deal with certain rarities and does a nice job on errors and oddities. Perhaps a video on grading will be next for Martin or some other enterprising coin authority. "Our Current Coins" and "Stretched U.S. Coins" are available in either VHS or Beta format. Order tapes through A. Goodman, P.O. Box 667, Beaumont, Calif. 92223. The price of each tape is $39.95 plus tax (postpaid in the United States).

Question: Recently, you said that a $1,000 note was worth about $3 to $5. For heaven's sake, what kind of a U.S. bank note was it? Even if it were a Confederate bank note I should think that it would be worth more than that. Is the reader to assume that someone paid $1,000 for a U.S. bank note and now the note is worth "about" $3 to $5? Why has the note depreciated so much in value?--M.A.H.

Answer: The note in question was a broken bank note, a subject I've dealt with in the past. Privately issued paper currency was used in this country from 1800 to 1865. Many of the banks printed more money than they had resources to back that money with. When the banks failed, the money became worthless. Hence the name, broken bank note. There were a lot of private banks, and there were a lot of bank failures. These notes are collectible, but their value is historical, not numerical. Hence, a $1,000 note is only worth about $3 to $5. Now, if you had a $1,000 Federal Reserve Note, that would be something else.

Q: My husband and I have a gold Russian coin, which was his grandmother's, dated 1899 for 10 rubles, and an American silver dollar dated 1923. Would you please tell me the approximate value of each?--R.D.K.

A: Your gold Russian ruble is worth about $80, the Peace dollar is $8 and up, depending upon condition.

Q: I began collecting coins a few years ago. Right now I have about 300 coins. They include foreign coins, Eisenhower dollars, Kennedy half dollars, Washington quarters, Jefferson nickels, Lincoln cents and Susan B. Anthony dollars. Although I don't think they're valuable, I do want to protect them. What is the best way to store my coins without having to spend a lot of money?--R.K.

A: The only sure way to protect your coins is by renting a safety deposit box. Check with your bank or savings and loan for the rates. Any coins of value should be stored securely. First, make sure they are in safe plastic holders or tubes if your coins are from circulation. Then, lock them up for safe keeping.

Q: I received a $1 bill that is off center. I have been assured by a bank that it is not counterfeit. If you will note, it is out of line, but only on one side. Is it of any value, or will it ever be of any value?--V.W.

A: Your bill has no collector value at this time. I cannot predict the future.

Q: I have a $10 United States bill in good but circulated condition that has a printing error on its face. I've always heard that these are fairly rare. Part of the number is missing on the left of the note, and part of the seal is missing. Can you approximate a value on this bill?--R.W.W.

A: Your error bill is not as rare as you might imagine. A lot of bills manage to get into circulation with mistakes on them. It is only the major errors that have real collector value. Your bill carries little if any premium. To learn its exact value, show it to several dealers who specialize in paper money.

Q: I would appreciate your advice on the value of 5 Reichsmark pieces (Deutsches Reich) dated 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938 and 1939, depicting President Hindenburg and a swastika or eagle. Also, where to dispose of these to my best advantage?--L.C.

A: Numismatically, your coins have little or no value. However, collectors of World War II material may have some interest. You'll probably do better at a swap meet than you will with a coin dealer.

Q: Can you please estimate the value of an Egyptian gold coin of 100 piastres dated 1916? There is a gold loop at the top. There is Arabic script on both sides.--J.S.

A: Your Egyptian gold coin with bezel is worth about $95.

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