Forty years ago, Century Stamp & Coin Co. opened at 506 West 7th St. in Downtown Los Angeles. It was not the first coin dealership downtown, nor the biggest. But it's still at its original location; in fact it is the only substantial coin dealership to remain in the downtown area as the others scattered with the population.
Century still goes about its business as it has in the past, servicing its clients--collectors and investors alike--buying and selling rare coins, bullion and numismatic materials. It still produces coin shows; this weekend there's the 24th annual Glendale Coin and Stamp Expo at Glendale Civic Auditorium. And it releases its own buy-sell sheet, a great aid to collectors following the coin market.
The firm is run by Dave Griffiths, son-in-law of the original founders. His daughter, Shelley, and son, Todd, are directly involved in the operation. Griffiths, a veteran professional numismatist, said: "We're a close-knit business and because of this we're able to offer personal service."
Griffiths and about 80 other dealers will be at the Glendale show Friday from noon to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Glendale Civic Auditorium is at 1401 N. Verdugo Road. Admission is $2. For information, telephone Century at (213) 622-6295.
Coin shows are a good place to go for comparison shopping. With the current bullion market heating up because of inflation fears, it pays to check with more than one dealer.
Question: On Feb. 19, you mentioned that the 1986 proof silver Eagle was being offered for between $50 and $60. Prices on the 1986 proof gold Eagle ranged from $750 and $900. What are the going prices now, and where can I find out what the prices are on a regular basis? Where can I sell to get the best offer?--R.E.B.
Answer: Because 1986 silver and gold proof Eagles were just coming on the market in February, prices were unsettled. They're still unsettled now, but for a different reason. Prices are changing daily due to inflation fears and the subsequent demand for silver and gold. Recent buy quotes for 1986 1-ounce proof silver Eagles were in the $39 range (they sold originally for $21). Buy quotes for 1986 1-ounce proof gold Eagles were in the $600-$700 range (they sold originally for $550).
Prices are volatile and subject to change daily or perhaps even during the day, depending upon the spot price of the precious metals. Because this is a competitive area, you will have to call various dealers and compare prices on a same-time basis. Coin shows are good places to seek the best price, because many dealers will be present.
Often, coins will change hands several times during a show, just from dealer-to-dealer transactions. That's because dealers have customers for certain coins or they feel they're still cheap in today's market.
Q: How much is this $10 bill worth? The serial numbers on the right-hand corner are slashed with the green ink.--F.C.
A: Your bill has little or no collector value. For currency with error strikes to maintain any market value, it has to be a major misprint, such as double reverse or a split strike.
Q: Over the years I have saved some coins from circulation. They include wheat cents, Jefferson nickels, Susan B. Anthony and Eisenhower dollars. Will some of these increase in value in the future? If not, should I buy an expensive coin with them?--R.K.
A: Silver coins dated 1964 and earlier are worth $4 for each $1 of face value. Half dollars from 1965 to 1970 contain 40% silver and carry a premium of 75 cents per coin. Otherwise, you can pretty much disregard circulated pieces unless you've managed to find an error or variety that may carry a premium. There's no way of knowing what the future will bring. Many ancient coins have little collector value. I would imagine that a relatively low-mintage coin in uncirculated condition would have a better chance to appreciate in value than coins taken from circulation.
Q: I have a coin that came to me in a glassine envelope marked Haroun el Rashid, Bagdad 802 AD. For quite some time I've been trying to get an appraisal and some idea of the marketability of the coin. I've been unsuccessful. Any suggestions you might have would be appreciated.--R.A.
A: Your coin appears to be Arabic or perhaps even from India. However, I have been unable to pinpoint it. Most major coin firms have specialists on foreign and ancient coins, so I would suggest you contact one of these companies. Also, you might want to attend a coin show where 100 or so dealers will be in attendance. Undoubtedly, someone will be able to identify your coin or will know someone who can.