Question: Coin grades are usually expressed with terms such as MS-63 (Mint State 63 on a scale of 1 to 70 with 70 being best), AU (Almost Uncirculated) and XF (Extra Fine). Is there a formula that will give me an approximate value for split grades? I have a common date $10 Liberty with motto that is certified as MS-63/63. Also, I know that there are several grading services. Which is the most strict? The least? Are any of them inconsistent? Finally, I have an 1878-CC dollar. It is still in the original government holder. Someone told me that the plastic can damage the coin over time. True or false?--J.B.
Answer: These are all good questions. Split grades are often given, because the obverse and reverse can differ in quality. One side may have a scratch or a rub or some other blemish. The other side may have signs of wear. In any event, the grades are not equal. Coins with split grades are worth the lowest grade. However, psychologically, the obverse carries slightly more weight, because that is the side most collectors check first.
As for grading services, I don't know if anyone has ever graded the graders. It would be an interesting exercise. Theoretically, all services should grade the same. In practice, it doesn't work that way. I would compare it to reports on the Internal Revenue Service that indicate different offices give different advice regarding the same set of information. Grading services can help give collectors peace of mind, but nothing is absolute. Knowledge and confidence in your own judgment is your best protection.
Insofar as sealed Carson City dollars are concerned, they're generally worth more in the government holders. So leave well enough alone.
Q: I have a half dollar with Booker T. Washington on one side and "From Slave Cabin to Hall of Fame" on the other. Am interested in knowing the value.--J.R.
A: You didn't mention the date on this commemorative, which could influence the price. Common dates (1946-1947) are about $5 or $6.
Q: I have a roll of 1948-S quarters and a roll of 1946-P dimes. Can you tell me their value?--M.D.
A: If your rolls are original and not put-together, the quarters are $285 for the roll, the dimes $60 for the roll.
Only 2,000 1-ounce platinum Panda coins from the China Mint dated 1987 will be struck for worldwide distribution, beginning this month. The first platinum Panda (pictured) joins the gold Panda series, which began in 1982. A 1988 platinum will be issued later this year. The 1988 Chinese gold pieces will once again be available in 1-ounce, half-ounce, quarter-ounce, one-tenth and one-twentieth troy ounce sizes. The 1988 gold Panda will not have a mint mark, unlike the 1987 coins, which had either a Y or S. For information about Pandas, contact the MTB Banking Corp., 90 Broad St., New York, N.Y. 10004-2290; telephone (800) 221-5240.
Part I of the Norweb Collection sold for more than $6 million last year. Part II goes on sale March 24-25 in New York, beginning with nickel 5-cent pieces and highlighted by an 1827 original gem proof quarter plus $10 gold pieces including seldom-seen mint mark varieties, condition census pieces and a last year of issue, 1933. The Norweb Collection II catalogue plus other catalogues issued for the year by Auctions by Bowers and Merena are available for $39 from Bowers and Merena, Box 1224, Wolfeboro, N.H. 03894; telephone (800) 222-5993.
Superior Stamp & Coin is anticipating an active auction schedule beginning May 31 with a two-day sale of ancient, foreign and Mexican coins. On June 5-8 the H.W. Blevins Collection goes on the block featuring half cents, large cents, bust half dollars, bust dollars plus the George Bodway Collection of type coins. July 16 and 17 will bring the 500-lot Auction '88 sale of United States copper, silver and gold coinage. September will see another United States offering, December one of ancient and foreign coins. For auction and consignment information, contact Superior at 9478 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills, Calif. 90212-4299; telephone (213) 203-9855.
Several new collectibles are being issued by Rarities Mint of Anaheim. Disney Around the World, the first of seven themes in a Disneyana Collection series, will depict eight Disney characters holding hands and encircling the globe. It will be limited to 15,000 silver proofs. In June, the first in a series of six "Star Wars" 10th-anniversary pieces will be issued, featuring Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa. For information, contact Rarities Mint, 2550 Mira Loma Way, Anaheim, Calif. 92806; telephone (800) 641-9585.