Question: In a recent column you referred to 1889-CC silver dollars in some cases being worth thousands of dollars. I hurriedly got out my silver dollars, and sure enough, I do have an 1889. However, I cannot find any mint mark and especially a CC. Where should the mint mark be located? I do not find a mint mark on any of my silver dollars.--C.W.B.
Answer: Mint marks are usually placed in inconspicuous areas on U.S. coins. Different denominations have different locations. The Carson City dollars you are concerned with have the markings on the reverse, below the wreath. An absence of mint marks indicates your coins are from the Philadelphia mint. Those coins are more common than the Carson City coins and worth considerably less. For example, more than 21 million $1 coins were minted in Philadelphia in 1889, but only 50,000 silver dollars were produced in Carson City that year.
Even so, the mintage is only one factor in determining price. The other is condition. Many relatively common coins can have considerable value if they are in a high state of preservation. But any type of wear will detract from the value. Your dollar is probably the common 1889 type and would be worth about $10 and up.
A related letter from V.R. asks the valuation of 1884-1885 Carson City dollars. "I purchased them from the mint in San Francisco in the '70s," V.R. writes. "Supposedly they came from undiscovered bags. They are in boxes and, I think, bank uncirculated."
Purchasers of Carson City dollars from the government have done pretty well for themselves. These coins were found in Treasury vaults, where they had languished for about 100 years. The release changed the value of many coins previously believed to be scarce. Carson City dollars dated 1882, 1883 and 1884 are now worth about $90 to $100 each. The 1885-CC $1 is worth $200; assuming these coins are uncirculated. Some other dates, as indicated by the first letter, can be worth much more.
New silver and gold Jericho commemorative legal tender coins are being issued by Israel as the sixth in the series "Historical Sites in the Holy Land." The Jericho (pictured) is 12 sided and is available in gold (the 5 new shekalim contains one-quarter ounce of gold, 4,000 mintage); silver (the 1 new shekel; almost half an ounce of silver, 9,000 mintage) and the silver half new shekel, also limited to 9,000 mintage. U.S. distributors include Panda America, 23326 Hawthorne Blvd., Skypark Ten No. 150, Torrance, Calif. 90505.
Australia's gold nugget will be issued worldwide Nov. 20 in proof condition with 1987 mintages limited to 15,000 coins in each denomination, similar to 1986. There will be 1-ounce, half-ounce, one-quarter-ounce and one-tenth-ounce versions. Each coin's reverse features a new design or a gold nugget discovered in Australia, and each bears the P mint mark for the Perth Mint. A-Mark Precious Metals will introduce the nuggets in North America. For information, contact A-Mark at P.O. Box 5501, Beverly Hills, Calif. 90210; telephone (213) 550-8861.
Coins from the Ebenezer Milton Saunders Collection will be featured Nov. 9-11 in a sale conducted by Auctions by Bowers & Merena in New York. The collection includes a 1915-S Panama Pacific commemorative set, a 1793 half cent, proof half cents of the 1840s, a proof 1879 $4 Stella, tokens, medals, Civil War store cards, political tokens and other material. The 300-page Saunders Collection catalogue is $10 from Auctions by Bowers & Merena, Box 1224, Wolfeboro, N.H. 03894.
A numismatic and antiquarian book auction will be conducted Nov. 22 at UCLA by Joel L. Malter & Co. Fifty-five silver coins from the Atocha shipwreck will be featured along with two 8 reales from the Santa Margarita, as well as other coins and two private coin libraries. For catalogues, contact Malter at 16661 Ventura Blvd., Suite 518, Encino, Calif 91316. Telephone (818) 784-7772. 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.