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Gold Still Glitters for Some Collectors

November 06, 1986|DON ALPERT

Question: I have a three-coin Statue of Liberty set (proof) but am puzzled at the prices quoted. I was led to understand there were to be 500,000 $5 Liberty gold pieces minted, proof and/or otherwise. I have been on the Mint mailing list since it started, and I have never heard or read where there were uncirculated $5 gold Liberty coins minted or offered for sale. Why is the uncirculated coin more valuable than the proof? Why couldn't a person take a proof coin and handle it enough so it might be classed as uncirculated?--J.E.K.

Answer: The Statue of Liberty set has been quite popular, primarily because of the $5 gold piece. The lure of gold continues, just as it did with the $10 Olympic piece, just as it seems to be doing with the new bullion Eagle pieces and just as it does with earlier regular gold issues. Gold is the main attraction; condition and scarcity are what helps determine the price.

Condition and scarcity are not factors with the new gold bullion pieces. But they are important elements in determining the price of the $5 Statue of Liberty gold piece.

For one thing, there was considerable interest in owning this coin. But it is not a scarce issue by collector standards. More than 300,000 proofs were issued but only about 96,000 uncirculated pieces. Normally, the proofs are more desirable, because they have what's known as eye appeal. Proof coins are double struck on specially prepared planchets. They have a mirrorlike finish that is quite attractive. But because there are considerably more proofs available than uncirculated pieces, the uncirculated pieces cost more.

As for making proof coins look uncirculated, it doesn't work that way. Proof is not a grade. Mishandled proofs become impaired, which causes them to lose value. But they're still proof coins. Also, I think if you'll check, you'll find that you had an opportunity to order either proof or uncirculated Statue of Liberty pieces. At the time, more people went for the proofs. With hindsight, everyone could be rich.

Q: My mother has saved lots of silver quarters plus a large amount of Jefferson $2 bills. Because we are very naive as to their value, how can I help her redeem them?--F.M.

A: Silver quarters dated 1964 and earlier are worth $1 each. If you go back far enough, they're worth more than that, especially if they are uncirculated. The Jefferson $2 bills have no collector value unless they are uncirculated. In that case, they're worth about $3 each if new. Get your best offer by checking with more than one dealer.

Q: I have an authentic, non-counterfeit currency note commonly called the "King of Errors." It has a 5 on one side and a 10 on the other side. It is in good condition. Without going to bid, could you possibly give a dollar value?--M.S.

A: Your error bill is worth between $1,000 and $2,500, depending on condition.

Q: Please give me the value of two gold coins. They are a $2 1/2 dated 1926 and another $2 1/2 dated 1928.--R.L.D.

A: There were 446,000 $2 1/2 gold pieces minted in 1926 and 416,000 minted in 1928. Even so, the price is equal if their conditions are equal. Your quarter eagles are worth $175 each and up, depending on condition.

Q: I would like to know the value of a Queen Victoria Jubilee specimen set. It consists of seven silver coins--a crown, half crown, one-third crown, florin, shilling, six-pence and threepence.--J.S.

A: Your British set is worth about $75.

Q: I have a 1983-D Lincoln cent that has a double-die mint mark and a double-die T in the word Trust. Please tell me if it is worth anything.--J.B.

A: Your cent is not a recognized variety. I don't believe it has any collector value.

Q: Do the newer coins, especially the 1986s, shine so brightly because they're new or is there another reason? Also, are the 1986 pennies lighter in weight? Are they made from a different alloy? What is going on?--J.J.F.

A: The new coins shine just because they're new and are made that way. The metal composition of cents was changed in 1982. Current coins are copper-plated zinc. They might look slightly different from earlier copper cents but it's not too detectable. The weight is the same.

Q: Can you give me any information on this coin? One side shows an eagle with the inscription: Deutches Reich 1903 funf mark. The other side has a head with the words William II.--W.V.V.

A: Your Prussian 5 mark is worth about $10 to $15.

Coin News

Official medals are being issued to celebrate the 100th birthday of David Ben-Gurion, known as the father of Israel. The medal (pictured) features a profile sculptured by Duda Idelstein. Only 1,000 22-karat gold medals will be struck, weighing nearly an ounce and priced at $755 each. There will be 1,500 14-karat gold medals weighing almost one-quarter ounce at $110 each, 2,400 sterling silver medals at $33 and an unlimited number of 2 3/4-inch bronze medals at $12.50 each. Order from the Israel Government Coins and Medals Corp., 350 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10118.

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