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Type Sets a Key Approach to Collecting

December 17, 1987|DON ALPERT

Question: Recently, you wrote about the Australian proof Nugget gold coins and a design change on the coins in 1988. You said this change will make a "type set" of the 1986 and 1987 coins. Please explain what a type set is. Also, where can I get the new 1987 proof Nuggets? I called the A-Mark company but they said they couldn't sell to me because they were a wholesaler.--P.S.

Answer: There are many ways to collect coins. Some people collect by denomination. Some collect by by date, subject or country. The possibilities are almost as numerous as the coins that have been minted. Because few people have the resources or interest to collect everything, it becomes a matter of choice.

One of the popular choices is to collect by type set. The object is to collect one example of every coin in a given series. In other words, U.S. type sets are made up of one coin from every major design or metallic change in each denomination. It is not necessary, therefore, to obtain every Lincoln cent from 1909 to the present from every mint if you are a type-set collector. One nice specimen will do, along with such examples as a nice Jefferson nickel or a nice Buffalo nickel. Now, some type collectors will have more than one Lincoln cent, having a copper and wartime 1943 zinc-coated steel piece as examples.

The Australian Nugget, which you inquired about, is essentially a bullion coin with limited mintage. Many countries have instituted such pieces since the United States banned the South African krugerrand. These bullion coins have become collectible because they are often subject to design change, the prime example being the Chinese Panda with earlier versions carrying a hefty premium.

Depending on your interest, you can buy one Nugget, or get a year set containing the various denominations, or go for a type set with the design changes. The new U.S. Eagle also falls into this category, and it remains to be seen how such pieces will ultimately fare as investments.

As for where to purchase such coins, almost any coin dealer will either have them in stock or be able to order them. That's where A-Mark comes in. It's true, A-Mark is a wholesaler that distributes coins such as the Nugget to dealers. Incidentally, it pays to check with more than one dealer. Prices change daily on the Nugget and other bullion coins. When gold goes up, the prices go up; and they go down accordingly with declines in bullion prices.

Q: With the popularity of American gold coins being strong, has there been any increase in value/interest in the American Arts Gold Medallion series?--D.F.

A: The American Arts Gold Medallions of 1980-84 were designed with the investor in mind but were not afforded legal-tender status. The series was an interesting concept but unfortunately did not capture the interest of enough collectors or investors. So far, these medallions have not benefited from interest in the new bullion gold and silver Eagles.

It's too bad too. I suspect it's only a matter of time before attention will turn to these underrated pieces. Those honored on 1-ounce and half-ounce medallions were Grant Wood and Marian Anderson (1980), Mark Twain and Willa Cather (1981), Louis Armstrong and Frank Lloyd Wright (1982), Robert Frost and Alexander Calder (1983) and Helen Hayes and John Steinbeck (1984). The most popular of these medallions in terms of sales was Louis Armstrong (409,098). By the time the series ended, sales had dropped to 33,546 for Helen Hayes and 32,572 for John Steinbeck.

Q: I recently acquired a 1929 Series $10 bill. Printed on the front is The Anglo & London, Paris National Bank of San Francisco, California. Red ink is also on the front where green ink usually is. Also down the side of the bill is 9174. The bill is in relatively good condition. Can you could approximate its value?--J.L.K.

A: Your bill, I'm sorry to say, has little or no collector value. You can check it out yourself with any local coin dealer.

Q: I have about 100 old coins from the United States and across the world, even streetcar tokens from the past. I also have just received three mint 500-peso notes from the Philippines; the ones that have the American flag placed in front of the Philippine flag. It is supposed to be recalled and no more printed. Who would be interested in paper money?--C.E.

A: Many people collect paper money and there are many dealers who specialize in such items as bills and notes. As with coins, condition is all important. Bills should be crisp and uncirculated to fetch the best prices. It will take a little research on your part to find a dealer who would be interested in your material. Either check with some local dealers or attend a coin show, where many dealers are in attendance and you can go from one to the other, seeking the best offer.

Q: I have an unusual 1978 penny with a small head of Kennedy facing Lincoln. The mint mark appears to be D. Does the coin have any particular value?--W.R.

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