Question: My granddad left me a silver dollar that is sealed. It looks bright and perfect, has no scratches or fingerprints on it. It is an 1893-S. What, if any, value does it have? My parents used to bring back silver dollars from Las Vegas, so I don't know if it's worth much.
Answer: Your dollar is a Liberty head or Morgan type, made from 1878 to 1921. This series is probably among the most popular collected by numismatists. Anyone wishing to assemble an entire set by date and mint will find it extremely difficult because of scarcity and expense.
One of the big stumbling blocks happens to be the 1893-S, which had a mintage of 100,000 (lowest mintage of all business strikes in the Morgan dollar series), and many were melted and others heavily circulated. Also, many altered coins are known to exist, so it is important to have your coin authenticated. Genuine 1893-S silver dollars are worth $500 to $25,000, depending upon condition.
You may be reluctant to part with your dollar for sentimental reasons. But if you decide to sell, a good place is a coin show, where many dealers are assembled and you can go from one to the other, seeking the best offer. This weekend's 25th annual Glendale Pavilion Coin and Stamp Expos afford such an opportunity.
The show, presented by the Numismatic Philatelic Conference, a branch of Century Coins in downtown Los Angeles, will feature coins and stamps, baseball cards, books, jewelry, supplies and related material.
A highlight will be three seminars. Wiseman & Burke, a business and financial management company, will discuss "Safe Investing for the 1990s" at 1 p.m. Saturday and "Prospects for Southern California Real Estate" at 2 p.m. Sunday. Dave Griffiths of Century Coins, a professional numismatist for more than 20 years, will discuss "Consumer Protection in Numismatics" at 3 p.m. Saturday and will also answer audience questions.
The Glendale show follows last week's active Long Beach show, and it will be interesting to see if the momentum will continue. 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 at Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale. Call (213) 622-6295.
Q: I have a 1971 Ike dollar. It has a double clip, one at 11 o'clock and one at 5 o'clock. What is it worth?--K.R.
Salvaged treasure from the Atocha, which sank in 1622, has caused quite a stir among collectors. Now, some of the coins have been melted and restruck into 8 Real pieces from the designs of the original dies. The restrikes (pictured) at the Mexico City Mint duplicate the presentation coins that were also made at the same mint more than 350 years ago for the king of Spain. The Pieces of Eight will be limited to 10,000 restrikes and cost $99 plus $5 for shipping. Order from Colonial Coins, 909 Travis St., Houston, Tex. 77002.
More than $2.6 million (including the 10% buyer's premium) was realized at the recent auction of the Lloyd M. Higgins MD Collection held in conjunction with the Numismatic Assn. of Southern California Convention here. Highlights include $44,000 for an 1864-L proof-63 Indian cent; $7,150 for a 1916 Standing Liberty quarter, MS-63, accompanied by a letter from the designer; $55,000 for an 1879 flowing hair $4 Stella, proof-65; and $9,750 for a 1936 proof set, proof-65. For a catalogue and prices realized, send $15 to Auctions by Bowers & Merena, Box 1224, Wolfeboro, N.H. 03894. Request the Higgins Collection catalogue.
Re: "Recollections of a Mint Director" by Frank A. Leach:
My great-grandfather, O. H. LaGrange, preceded Mr. Leach as director and, according to family legend, sank a well (at his own expense) inside the San Francisco Mint when the government would not.
Legend further states that the well's water saved the Mint during the '06 quake and fire.
--GEORGE R. GARDINER