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Numismatics and the Wall St. Crunch

November 05, 1987|DON ALPERT

Numismatics is inexorably tied to economics, so the current uneasiness on the stock market is bound to be reflected in the coin market. Normally when situations like this develop, the price of coins goes up because many investors turn to hard assets for refuge. This drives up silver and gold prices, which in turn stimulates investment-quality coins.

It's still too early to tell how numismatics will be affected by the current crunch. Some major coin marketeers are beating the drums for coins as the place for skittish stock market investors to turn. This is to be expected, because some financial planners have long advocated that a certain percentage of investment dollars be invested in bullion and rare coins.

However, an Associated Press story from the Silver Dollar Convention in St. Louis indicates that there's as much uncertainty in the coin market as in the stock market. Many dealers are taking a wait-and-see attitude, and the public seems to be doing the same. Over the long run, coins have a remarkable appreciation record, and this will probably continue to be the case, as long as the coins have been properly graded and priced. For someone considering entering numismatics for the first time, it's best to learn as much as possible about the subject and then to go slowly to avoid possible costly mistakes.

It's still too soon to tell how coins will be affected by the volatile stock market. But if past history is any criteria, additional funds will probably be pumped into numismatics, driving prices up, because coins are finite and respond to the law of supply and demand. Coins should be approached as a hobby with long-term gain as a possibility. It's no place for the fainthearted or those prone to panic. But it is a haven for those who enjoy fun and challenge. It can be as stimulating as Las Vegas and, if approached properly, not as big a gamble.

Q: I have some German currency and have been unable to learn its value. I have a 10,000 Reichsbanknote, Berlin, Jan. 19, 1922; and several 1,000 Reichsbanknote, Berlin. What value do they have?--M.B.

A: You have German inflation money. It had little or no value when printed, because there was nothing to back it up. It's more of a novelty today than anything else, with a certain amount of historical interest. But it has little or no collector value, because these bills were printed in inordinate numbers.

Q: I am a 71-year-old grandmother, and I have some coins I would like to give my granddaughter, who has just graduated from high school. There are 1945 and 1949 quarters; 1921 and Ike dollars; 1973, '74 and '67 Kennedy half dollars and 1908 and 1941 half dollars; plus 1941 and 1943 nickels. I also just recently got a $20 bill with the printed 20 at the bottom colored yellow. Is this a Mint mistake?--D.L.

A: Your thought of giving coins as a gift is an excellent one. The coins you mentioned are not particularly valuable, but true value cannot always be measured in dollars and cents. A gift such as yours may open up a new hobby for your granddaughter, or at least serve as mementos. The bill is unlikely to be an error. It might be a gold certificate or more likely discolored in a washing machine.

Q: I have three $5 gold pieces. Two are dated 1905-D and one is 1845-D. I also have a 1926 $2 1/2 and 1906 $2 1/2. All are in mint condition. Could you tell me what their worth is and whom to contact?--A.W.

A: Your $5 gold pieces are worth $150 each and up. The 1926 $2 1/2 is $165 and up; the 1906 $2 1/2 is $185 and up. Any coin dealer would be interested in your coins. Check with several to get the best offer.

Q: My wife has 86 Liberty dimes, 1941-1945-1963; a 25-cent bill, not sure of date; a 50-cent coin, 1915 with a hole; about 200 50-cent pieces dated 1941-1963; $1 coins dated 1886, 1884, 1889, 1900 and 1922; some small-denomination foreign paper money, and some small copper coins, some going back to 1927. Do you suppose that it would be worthwhile pursuing the paper, silver and copper items further?--A.G.H.

A: From the description, you have a catchall collection of no great value. The dimes are worth about 50 cents each, the fractional bill about $3; the half dollar is $2, and the silver dollars are $8 to $20 each. Your copper coins have little or no value. Other silver pieces listed are worth bullion value.

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