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Book Opens Pages to Early Collector

June 09, 1988|DON ALPERT

Something old and something new--that's what's on the numismatic book scene this week.

The "old" is actually also new; it is a book by Dr. Joel J. Crosz, "The Eagle That Is Forgotten." The book is about Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere, an 18th-Century collector the author calls the founding father of American numismatics and who possibly was America's first coin collector. History buffs will be intrigued by this modest story of the pioneer numismatist. It adds an interesting footnote to collecting lore.

Softbound copies of "The Eagle That Is Forgotten" are $9.95 each plus $2 for postage, hard-bound copies $19.95 plus $2 postage. Order from Bowers & Merena, Box 1224, Wolfeboro, N.H. 03894; telephone (800) 222-5993.

Of more general and practical interest is the second edition of the "Coin Collector's Survival Manual" by Scott A. Travers. This is a practical guide for beginning and experienced collectors who want to avoid common traps of buying and selling. Travers discusses altered and counterfeit coins, suggests how to get the most out of price guides and deals with mail-order problems, grading and basic coin information. Published by Prentice Hall, it's a true consumer's guide.

Travers is also the author of "Rare Coin Investment Strategy." This is a more advanced look at collecting for those with the intention of making a profit. Serious collectors will find this book quite helpful. It's important, in fact, to read and absorb books such as this, even before you plunge into the helter-skelter coin market.

"Rare Coin Investment Strategy" is also published by Prentice Hall ($19.95). Author Travers (of Travers Rare Coin Galleries) can be reached at 599 Lexington Ave., New York, N.Y. 10022; telephone (212) 836-4787.

Question: I have a 1970-S penny that is the same on both sides--the image of Lincoln, the year, "In God We Trust" and "Liberty for All" are on both sides of the coin. Does this have any value other than 1 cent? I also have three Indian head pennies, 1901, 1903 and 1906. These coins have been circulated but are in good condition.--A.V.

Answer: Your two-headed Lincoln cent was manufactured for magic tricks. It's actually been mutilated for collecting purposes and has no numismatic value, although it is a conversation piece. Your circulated Indian head cents are worth about 30 cents each.

Q: Please tell me how to find the current value of commemorative coins we purchased while visiting the Vatican in 1986--Pope John issues in bronze, silver and gold. We purchased one of each packaged for collectors.--H.K.

A: Krause's "Standard Catalogue of World Coins" is published annually and is a good general reference. But catalogue prices are not necessarily market prices, so it would be best to comparison-shop with several dealers.

Coin News

A 5-ounce silver medal commemorating the nuclear arms reduction treaty signed in December by President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev is being issued by the Soviet Union's Leningrad Mint. The obverse (pictured) features the White House and U.S. Capitol alongside the Kremlin and the Supreme Soviet building. The reverse has the flags of both countries. Distribution worldwide is by American Bullion & Coin of Malibu, founded by Gene and Azmina Czaplinsky. The medals are $275 with mintage limited to 1,000. To order, call (800) 233-8221 or American Bullion at (213) 455-3389.

Souvenir cards featuring the back of the 1899 $5 silver certificate will be issued by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in conjunction with the International Paper Money Show in Memphis, Tenn., June 22-26. The note is historically significant because it focused primarily on counterfeit deterrents. Souvenir mint cards (IPMS No. 956) are available by mail for $5.50; post office canceled souvenir cards (IPMS No. 957) are $5.75 from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Mail Order Sales, Room 602-11A, 14th and C streets S.W., Washington, D.C. 20228.

An 1884 proof trade dollar, one of only 10 known, will be featured in the United States Gold, Silver and Copper Coins auction featuring the Frank F. Sprinkle Collection on June 21 and 22 in New York. Some interesting paper money is also in the auction. Catalogues are $10 from Stack's, 123 West 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10019; telephone (212) 582-2580.

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