Question: I have noticed that when the Morgan dollars are offered for sale, I never see the 1878 issue listed. My question: Is the 1878 Morgan dollar of any special value because of limited issue or scarcity? Can you give me an estimated value of such a coin in excellent condition?--R.E.S.
Answer: The Morgan dollar, also known as the Liberty head type, is quite popular with collectors and is familiar to almost anyone with any basic knowledge of United States coinage. It was minted from 1878 to 1921 and used for years in Las Vegas and other gambling centers to feed $1 slot machines. The large profile of Miss Liberty on the obverse and the majestic eagle on the reverse virtually symbolize numismatics in this country. The silver piece is named after its designer, George T. Morgan.
I'm surprised that you haven't noticed 1878s for sale. As the first year of issue, it's a sought-after coin but readily available, because more than 20 million were issued. Literally millions have no doubt been melted, but the supply is still adequate.
What's interesting about this date is the number of varieties. Besides the 1878 with eight tail feathers, there's one with seven tail feathers, another with seven over eight tail feathers, the 1878-CC and the 1878-S. In addition, there are many other varieties. Some collectors specialize in assembling as many varieties as they can find of just this one date.
Prices range from $10 to $200, depending on condition. As is often the case, some especially nice, sharply struck specimens can command higher premiums.
Twenty-four gold and silver coins in four separate series are being issued by Korea to commemorate the 24th Summer Olympic Games in Seoul. The 1-ounce gold (pictured) is in Series 3. It and the other three 1-ounce gold pieces will be the first Olympic coins of this weight and composition. Each will have a total mintage of 30,000. Other coins in the series include a half-ounce gold with a proof mintage of 120,000 and uncirculated mintage of 40,000. There will also be two silver 1-ounce coins and two silver half-ounce coins, both in proof and uncirculated condition. Maximum mintage for any of the silver coins is 235,000 for the half-ounce pieces and 110,000 for the 1-ounce pieces. Information on these Olympic commemoratives is available from MTB Banking Corp., 90 Broad St., New York, N.Y. 10064; telephone (212) 858-3300.
A series of four precious-metals investment seminars will be held in May in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. It is sponsored by GoldCorp Australia, the Platinum Guild International and the Gold and Silver Financial Group. Participants include Joseph C. Battaglia, Stephen M. Gotwald, Jacques Luben and Barry S. Stuppler. Seminars are scheduled May 10 in San Jose, May 11 in San Francisco, May 16 in Los Angeles and May 18 in Anaheim. For information: (818) 906-1017 or (800) 537-4500.
"How to Invest in Rare Coins," a seminar conducted by Robert Badal, will be held May 7 from 9 a.m. to noon at Mt. San Antonio College. The fee is $25. Telephone (714) 594-5611. On May 21, Badal will talk on "Gold, Silver and Rare Coins" from 9 a.m. to noon at Beverly Hills Adult School, (213) 277-4747. The fee is $25.