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Encouraging Kids to Become Collectors

October 15, 1987|DON ALPERT

There were some interesting responses to a recent column about Pioneer gold. I've been chided by Matt and Jessie Gainsley of Koins 4 Kids, who were complaining about a reader's reference to "many fairly worthless types, like Shield nickels in pretty average shape, old Wheat pennies and the like."

The Koins 4 Kids kids say "to us and thousands of other kids, these coins are the bulks of our collections. . . . Instead of the answer you gave, you might have encouraged (the writer) to give his 'worthless types' to a kid who might have felt them to be a priceless collection, and thus started him on the road to a lifetime of collecting enjoyment."

Actually, I have encouraged just such gifts in the past. Worn coins that have little numismatic value and only a slight chance of appreciation should be donated to clubs that encourage young numismatists. Or give them to friends, relatives or neighbors so that young people can enjoy them and learn some of the fascinating stories that coins can tell.

Matt and Jessie Gainsley appear to be young entrepreneurs who bill themselves as "the only dealers in the country whose customer list is composed entirely of kids." Their business card lists Koins 4 Kids at 18951 Wells Drive, Tarzana, Calif. 91356. There are two phone numbers: Matt, (818) 344-9081, and Jessie, (818) 344-4035.

Also on the subject of Pioneer gold, M.L. writes that the "piece I have is octagonal, incredibly thin, with stars and a very Aztec profile wearing a feather headdress on one side, and simply California gold with 1853 inside laurel branches on the other. Is this also a souvenir piece? As your other reader mentioned, I have not heard or seen any information on this type of piece before. . . ."

From your description, your coin seems genuine. As a general rule, if the coin has a bear or the word Eureka on the reverse, it's a replica of some sort. If it has the word Dol or Dollar, it's likely to be genuine. Only a close inspection by a professional can determine a coin's genuineness and worth.

Question: I have a French 10-mark coin dated 1371 with a star and date on the front. On the back is Marco on the top, the word Francs on the bottom and 10 in the middle. Can you tell me the value of this coin?--J.P.

Answer: Your coin, I'm sorry to say, has more age than value. It's worth about $3 or $4.

Q: I have a $100 bill that has the following: Franklin's picture and the words Series of 1934 and Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Calif. Does this have any additional value since it is 53 years old?--J.B.

A: Your $100 bill is only worth face value. It hasn't collected any interest or collector premium in all those years.

Q: When I was a kid, I found a copper German coin in a pinball machine. On the front of the coin is a large 2 with the word Reichspfennig on the top and two oak leaves with an A in the center. On the reverse is an eagle holding a circle of oak leaves with a swastika in the center. On the bottom is inscribed Deutches Reich 1937. Is this coin worth anything? It is in good condition.--J.M.I.

A: Your coin is only worth about $1 to coin collectors, although someone interested in Nazi memorabilia might pay a little more.

Q: I was just given a gold coin in mint condition, the size of a 5-cent piece. It has the word Helvetia on the front, 20 fr and 1909 on the back. I would appreciate knowing its approximate value.--C.C.

A: Your Swiss 20 franc is essentially a bullion coin and worth between $95 and $105 in today's market.

Q: My mother has a 1915 gold $1 coin that says Panama American Exposition-San Francisco on it. How much is this worth?--D.J.

A: Your mother's coin is a commemorative marking the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915. Only 15,000 of these dollar pieces were minted. The obverse depicts a Panama Canal laborer. Prices range from $400 to $1,500, depending upon condition.

Q: I am in possession of a gold coin in mint condition. One side has the picture of a young boy with the words BRUXELLES at the top and MANNEKIN-PIS on the bottom. The reverse side has a figure kneeling and the inscription BRUSSEL BRUXELLES--EXPOSITION UNIVERSELLE. I am most anxious to find out what the value is.--R.L.

A: Your coin essentially is a gold commemorative medal. It is worth about 10% to 25% more than the price of gold, which fluctuates daily. For a specific price, check with several dealers.

Q: I have two coins I would like to sell. One is an 1882 Shield nickel. The other is a $20 gold double eagle. Can you suggest someone I could take them to?--D.H.

A: You will have to do a little homework. The price range on your coins can be considerable, depending on condition. I cannot recommend specific dealers. Take the coins around locally or attend a show where many dealers will be in attendance. It will take a little work to determine the best price.

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