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Rich History Is Behind Maundy Sets

January 15, 1987|DON ALPERT

Question: I have a 1908 set (four coins) of Maundy money. They are in their original case. What is its value? Will its value increase or should I think about selling it?--E.L.

Answer: Maundy coinage is a very interesting British presentation set that has been produced since the reign of Charles II (1660-1685), according to one source; all the way back to King John, who ruled from 1199 to 1216, according to another source. Sets, consisting of four coins--a penny, twopence, threepence and fourpence denominations--are given on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, as part of a religious rite. The sets are bestowed upon worthy Englishmen for community service in rather limited mintages.

Your 1908 set, for example, is one of 8,760 minted. It was made during the reign of Edward VII. A major dealership is offering many Maundy sets in a recent catalogue. The firm seems puzzled, as do I, that these coins are so reasonably priced. A set with the same date as yours is being offered for $129. Other sets going back to Queen Victoria (1888, 1896 and 1897) are also available at the same price.

Some later dates with mintages of about 1,100 pieces are just $149, while 1967 (986), 1968 (964) and 1970 (980) sets are priced at $159 each.

As you can see, these are relatively low prices for such low-mintage sets. The figures listed are the sell price, so you'd probably realize considerably less if you attempt to sell your coins. Maundy coins would be interesting and challenging to collect by date or monarch. There's quite a bit of history locked up in those presentation cases. Because these coins as a group are so moderately priced, it's unlikely that they will appreciate greatly in value in the near future.

If your only interest in your Maundy coins is the profit factor, then you might consider selling them. But if the coins have a sentimental value or if they trigger a further interest in collecting, you have nothing to lose by keeping them and adding to your collection. A lot depends on what you originally paid for your coins and your personal financial condition.

Q: Can you tell me if there is any value in a California Bicentennial coin, 1769-1969, and a 1969 Richard Nixon inaugural medal?--F.L.W.

A: The California Bicentennial piece has little or no numismatic value; the Nixon medal is worth about $10.

Coin News

The 40th anniversary of the voyage of the Exodus 1947 is being commemorated as a reminder of Israel's refugee struggle. The ship (pictured) carried 4,500 Jewish refugees to Palestine but was turned back by the British and forced to return to its French port of departure. The incident helped lead to England's departure from Palestine and the formation of Israel. Medals in gold ($720), silver ($33) and bronze ($12.50) are available. To order, contact the Israel Government Coins and Medals Corp., 350 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10118.

A massive four-day auction of more than 5,000 coins is being presented by Superior Galleries on Feb. 8-11. The six-session sale will take place at Superior's new quarters, 9478 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills, Calif. 90212-4236. Coins will be available for viewing by appointment through Feb. 7. Highlights of the auction include a complete set of United States shield nickels in brilliant proof condition (estimated value $10,000-$15,000); a rare 1885 trade dollar--one of only five struck ($100,000 and up); one of the finest known 1884-S silver dollars ($15,000 and up); a rare 1796 half dollar ($10,000 and up); an original nine-piece 1871 proof set ($10,000 and up), and a brilliant uncirculated 1795 Mint State-60 gold $10 ($25,000 and up). Catalogues are available from Superior, (213) 203-9855.

Coin Letter

Re Jan. 8 Your Coins: Many years ago the frigate Constellation needed a lot of work to preserve it for the future. The ship contained copper nails. To do the job at no cost to the Navy, they cast a pot of metal, throwing in the copper nails. For a modest stipend, one could donate and receive a medallion containing nails from the Constellation. This medallion would give the owner lifetime admittance to the ship during visiting hours at the Naval Academy. I have one of the medallions, which was fabricated after World War II.

--H.M. (USN retired)

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.

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