Grading and pricing continue to be major bugaboos for coin collectors. There seems to be a movement afoot to standardize grading procedures, with leading coin-grading services holding preliminary talks in an effort to reach accord. These groups, in conferences initiated by the American Numismatic Assn. Certification Service, have agreed to meet again Oct. 2-5 at the Long Beach Numismatic and Philatelic Fall Exposition. Undoubtedly, there's still a lot of groundwork to be done, but it's a step in the right direction.
Progress is also being made in the field of pricing. Several dealers are now putting out their own buy-sell sheets. Leading the way is David Griffiths of Century Stamp & Coin Co. in Downtown Los Angeles. Griffiths issues a buy-sell list bimonthly, which he distributes to 1,500 dealers, collectors and investors.
"I'm doing this," Griffiths said, "so clients can monitor their own portfolio. Under our certified grading policy, clients can know what they can sell their coins back to me for. It's like buying a boat. It's easier to get in than get out. Here, clients know just where they stand.
"We're not in competition with the Gray Sheet (an industrywide buy-sell list followed by many dealers)," Griffiths said. "But the Gray Sheet doesn't buy coins. We do."
Griffiths has just expanded his listing to eight pages. It'll be available to collectors who attend the 22nd Annual Glendale Coin and Stamp Exposition Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale. Hours are noon to 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $2.
With about 80 stamp and coin dealers at the show, Griffiths anticipates quite a bit of action, especially with the recent rise in the price of silver, gold and platinum.
"With gold and silver going up," Griffiths said, "numismatics have to follow. I think that what will happen, there will be a lot of sales. It's a great opportunity to liquidate holdings. I could be wrong--I've been wrong before--but I anticipate a lot of sales."
Question: I have 10 rolls ($40 each) of Susan B. Anthony dollars. They are in perfect condition, as I got them when they were delivered to the bank the morning they came in, and they have never been unwrapped. Can you tell their value?--M.N.
Answer: As you undoubtedly know, Susan B. Anthony dollars never caught on with the public, primarily due to the size, which resembles a quarter. The coins, minted from 1979 to 1981, mostly languish in government vaults--millions and millions of them--while officials try to figure out what to do. Others are in private hands, some in mint or proof sets; others put aside in the hope they will appreciate in value.
It's possible these coins sometime down the road may go up in value. Right now, uncirculated coins such as yours are worth face value plus a 5% to 10% premium--if you can find a buyer. If the government ever decides to release its remaining hoard of Anthony dollars, the entire pricing structure would change.
Q: I would like to know the value of a 1957 South Africa 1D, 1957 South Africa 1/4D, 1960 Elizabeth II Regina half penny.--G.L. McG.
A: Your South African coins are worth $1 and 75 cents, respectively; the British coin has no collector value.
Q: Could you give me the value of the misprinted $5 bill I have? The seals and serial numbers are all moved to the right. The bill is crisp and brand new.--M.K.
A: Your bill is out of alignment. It might have some slight premium value, but it is only considered a minor error. Major errors are the ones that have some substantial worth.
Q: Will you please advise whether a $5 Cotton Planters Loan Assn. bill is of any value?--M.M.
A: Your bill is one of the more interesting notes of its kind that I've seen. It's known as a broken bank note and, like others in the 1860s, it depicts scenes of American life. Your note is in the $15 to $25 range.
Sales of the new United States gold bullion coins will not begin until Oct. 20, according to an article in Coin World. Originally, sales of the new gold and silver coins were expected to begin Oct. 1. The Mint will sell the gold bullion pieces to agents at premiums of 3% for the $50 1 ounce, 5% for the $25 half ounce, 7% for the $10 quarter ounce and 9% for the $5 one-tenth ounce. The premium for the silver 1-ounce coin will be about $1 a coin. The distributors will then determine the price the public will pay. Proof versions of the 1-ounce gold and silver bullion pieces will be available to collectors on the Mint's mailing list, probably in late October.
Robert Badal is conducting a series of seminars on "How to Invest in Rare Coins." This class offers hands-on teaching in grading plus some background information. Classes will be conducted at Ventura College, Oct. 11, 1-4 p.m., for $25, telephone (805) 656-5163; Pasadena City College, Oct. 25, 1-4 p.m., $16, (818) 578-7261; Beverly Hills Adult School, Nov. 8, 1-4 p.m., $15, (213) 277-4747; Golden West College, Nov. 12, 7-10 p.m., $18, (714) 891-3991, and Santa Monica City College, Nov. 15, 9 a.m.-noon, $25, (213) 452-9214.
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.