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Some Money Gifts Are Collector's Items

December 11, 1986|DON ALPERT

Coins make wonderful, lasting gifts. They can mark births, anniversaries, special occasions. They can introduce youngsters to an instructive, potentially lucrative hobby. They are beautiful and interesting in their own right. They're even used in jewelry.

All the facets of numismatics will be on display this weekend at the 23rd annual Glendale Coin and Stamp Exposition.

Dave Griffiths, a professional numismatist from Century Coins in Downtown Los Angeles, reports that the Glendale show has sold out all its dealer tables, and he's looking forward to a record turnout.

"There's been a lot of activity lately," Griffiths said, "much of it due to the new United States gold and silver bullion coins, called Eagles. Because of this, we're calling this show 'A Salute to the American Eagle.' And examples of these new coins will be plentiful on the bourse floor; although I know most dealers have been having trouble keeping them in supply.

"Also," Griffiths said, "there will be plenty of numismatic material--gold, proof sets, type coins, foreign and ancient coins, stamps, medals, jewelry. You can expect to find just about everything at this show. It's also a great place for people who want to sell coins to find buyers. They can comparison-shop and comparison-sell. There will even be collecting books available."

The Glendale show is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 Verdugo Road, Glendale. Hours are Friday, noon-7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m-7 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $2.

Question: Please share your thoughts on the reasonableness of purchasing a bag of silver coins for investment purposes. Would it be wiser to purchase just a silver bar instead? Reviewing the meltdown value of silver per ounce, it appears to me that the wholesaler has added a markup of about $740 per bag at the going $5.16-per-ounce silver price. If this is the case, can I purchase a bag of silver coins direct from a smelter?--G.N.

Answer: People do speculate on the price of silver and gold. One of the ways to do this is to buy silver coins by the bag or sometimes by the half bag. The current buy-sell price on silver bags is about $4,100 to $4,300. There are 715 pure ounces of silver in a bag with $1,000 face value of silver. The buy-sell spread is generally about $250 or 34 cents an ounce.

Personally, I prefer numismatic coins to bullion coins, because there is a rarity factor with numismatic coins. But if you prefer bullion, you might do better with silver bars. Also, you might want to consider the new United States Eagles, which are available in both silver and gold. However, there is a considerable mark-up on the Eagles at this time due to public interest and supply and demand. As for buying directly from a smelter--not likely. That's where coins and other silver objects go to be melted. Each handling process adds to the price.

Q: I have a 1943-S Lincoln penny. It is one of those zinc-clad type, I believe, that was minted during the war. Does it have any value other than 1 cent?--M.A.MacD.

A: There were 191.5 million 1943-S cents minted. The chance of yours having some premium value is not great. In Mint State 65 condition (a coin in a very high state of preservation), the 1943-S cent lists for $9 in Yeoman's "Guide Book of United States Coins." You could expect to get considerably less from a dealer.

Q: Could you tell me the value of a 1968 25-peso Mexico Olympic coin?--D.G.

A: Your coin is worth about $4.

Q: Can you comment on the value of the Hall of Fame silver medal issue--large, sterling, heavy--issued 10 to 15 years ago? There are 106 to 108 in a complete set, as I recall. It may have been from the Franklin Mint.--H.M.

A: Most Franklin Mint issues are worth their bullion value, even though many are quite attractive. So far, unfortunately, there has not been much collector interest.

Q: I would like to buy a few 1985 and/or 1986 Chinese gold pandas. Where can I buy these direct, or do I have to go through a coin dealer?--A.B.P.

A: Your best bet would be to work through a coin dealer. The pandas have proven popular with many collectors and investors. They come in various weight denominations. Since production has been limited from the beginning when first released in 1982, pandas have shown strength in both the bullion and collector markets. With gold priced at $417 an ounce, the one-ounce 1985 gold panda was selling for $465 while the one-ounce 1986 gold panda was selling for $455.

Q: I have a Roman gold coin described as very rare. I wish to dispose of this coin and would appreciate your comments as to a reputable company that I could approach regarding its sale.--M.G.

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