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Numismatic Pieces as More Than Just Stocking Stuffers

December 10, 1987|DON ALPERT

Consider giving coins as gifts this holiday season. Proof sets, mint sets and commemoratives all make wonderful gifts. While some numismatic material can be considered stocking stuffers, investment-quality pieces rate right up there with the finest diamonds and works of art.

Coins for all tastes and budgets will be available at the 24th annual Glendale Coin & Stamp Exposition on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale. This is the last major show of the year and comes just in time for holiday shoppers. In addition to coins, the show will feature stamps, paper money, baseball cards, jewelry, supplies and books. Hours are noon to 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

About 85 dealers are expected at the Glendale show, more than have signed up for many years. Recent gyrations in the stock market may be a factor, because many investors apparently are turning to other areas in their search for profits.

Dave Griffiths of Century Coins in downtown Los Angeles said there's been a considerable upturn in interest in high-quality material.

"What I've observed since the stock market went down," Griffiths said, "are a lot of new people coming into the rare-coin market--investors as well as collectors. People are turning to hard- asset investments. There's considerable interest in 12- and 15-piece U.S. gold type sets, High Reliefs ($20 1907 gold pieces), $50 gold slugs and Classic gold coins costing $5,000 and up.

"The tables are turned. The bull is now chasing the bear in the coin market. Other dealers also tell me the coin market is very active now. The next 12 months may be the last good opportunity for buyers before prices really escalate."

But what about collectors who only have limited funds to pursue their hobby?

"There are plenty of possibilities for any pocketbook," Griffiths said. "Proof sets, type coins, Pandas, Korean Olympics pieces, gold and silver bullion--the list is almost endless. Quality coins of any series--that's the secret."

In keeping with the holiday season, the Numismatic, Philatelic & Monetary Conference, sponsors of the show, will cut the $2 admission in half for those bringing canned goods to donate to charity.

Question: We have the following coins, all proof in mint condition, and are keen to know a realistic market value: a $100 Olympic 1977 proof gold, $100 Jubilee 1977 proof gold (each in original mint box) and the Series 1 to 7 (all mint proof) silver in special wood display stand issued by the Canadian Mint.--H.W.

Answer: Your $100 Olympic gold piece is worth $175, your $100 gold Jubilee is $225 and the Olympic (I assume) proof silver set is $225.

Q: In going through some of my late mother's trinkets, I stumbled onto some baby teeth, stick pins and old coins. I am listing some of the coins and would appreciate any comments: an 1864 2-cent piece; 1868 5-cent piece; 1863 Knickerbacker, "Money makes the Mare go--go it buttons"; 1861, 1896, 1902, 1904 and 1906 Indian-head cents; 1911 French franc; 1941 and 1942 English farthings; 1886 6 pence Victoria, and 1910, 1913 and 1938 threepence.--J.C.

A: Your 2-cent piece is worth $3, the 1868 nickel is $2; the Knickerbacker (must be token) is $5; the 1861 Indian-head cent is $3; the other cents are 50 cents each; the French franc and English farthings have little or no value; the sixpence is $2 and the threepence are $9 each.

Q: Last year, while visiting friends in Europe, I was given two Statue of Liberty coins distributed by the Mint of Paris (Monnaie de Paris). They are both 100 French francs; one gold; one silver. Only 17,000 were made in gold, 18,000 in silver. Statue of Liberty coins issued by the U.S. Mint numbered 500,000 and are worth considerably more than their original price, I am told. I am curious to know how desirable my coins are and what they are currently worth.--J.J.C.

A: The United States Statue of Liberty commemorative proof sets with the W mint mark and gold piece are worth about $250, which is about $75 more than the issue price. The French coins, like yours, are worth about 10% over the value of the precious metal, even though the French coins were made in limited numbers. The price disparity has to do with preference over supply and demand.

Q: Enclosed is a sample picture of $5 bill with red numbers and red seal, Series 1953. Is it worth more than $5?--I.M.K.

A: Sorry, but your bill is only worth face value.

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