Question: I have had the following U.S. proof sets ever since they were issued: 1963-P, 1970-S, 1972-S and 1976-S. And the following mint sets: 1968-P, D and S; 1969-P, D and S; 1970-P, D and S; 1972-P and D, and 1975 P and D. Is it worthwhile to hold on to these sets, or would I be better off selling them now? I paid the mint price for them and I could use the money.--H.L.
Answer: Proof and mint sets are fun to collect, although they do not offer a great challenge. Those issued in the '30s, '40s and '50s have relatively low mintages and have appreciated considerably in value. Later issues, such as yours, have not fared as well. Your most valuable sets are the '63-P, '70-S and '70-P, D, S. They are all about $15. Your '76-S proof set is $5.85, and the others are in the $2-to-$5 range.
It's apparent that sets like yours are not good investments. But I wouldn't discourage anyone from collecting these pieces. And certainly the early ones have a good track record. In time, perhaps, even newer dates will gain financial respect. For now, however, if you need the money, then sell. The chances of a sharp rise in the near future seem remote.
To the uninitiated, the P stands for the Philadelphia Mint, D is for Denver and S for San Francisco. Most P-mint coins have no mint mark, although there are some notable exceptions.
On the subject of proof coins, the Mint is now accepting orders for the 1988 American Eagle. Gold pieces are 1 ounce ($585), half ounce ($295), quarter ounce ($150), and one-tenth ounce ($65). A 4-piece gold set is $1,065. The 1-ounce proof silver is $23. Mail orders must be received by Sept. 23 at the United States Mint, 1988 American Eagle Proof Bullion Coins, P.O. Box 13629, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101-3629; telephone (301) 436-7400 for information.
"The Spirit of the Bastille," commemorating the bicentennial of the French Revolution, is being produced by the Paris Mint with a total mintage of 5,000; 3,000 available outside of France. The proof coin (pictured) is the first two-tone--white and yellow--gold coin ever minted. It was minted as a supplement to the general-circulation 10-franc piece released last March. It is available from MTB Banking, 90 Broad St., New York, N.Y. 10004-2290; telephone (800) 221-5240.
The Australian Nugget, a proof gold-bullion series, continues to have innovations in 1988. The 1988 legal tender coin is being minted in 1-ounce, half-ounce, quarter-ounce and one-tenth-ounce sizes, limited to 10,000 each with 9,000 released as four-coin sets. The nugget's design celebrates Australia's bicentennial with a Perth mint mark, P200. Each coin in the series depicts a different gold nugget. The coins were made available in early August. A-Mark Precious Metals of Santa Monica is the national wholesale distributor.
"Coins and Collectors" by Q. David Bowers, out of print for more than 15 years, is being reissued with a distinctive new cover. The book discusses the history and romance of numismatics. Copies are $9.95 plus $2 for handling from Bowers & Merena Publications, Box 1224, Wolfeboro, N.H. 03894.
Uncut currency is being offered by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Uncut $1 bills are available by mail in four-subject ($10.25), 16-subject ($28) and 32-subject ($47) sizes, plus $2 notes in four-subject ($14.75) and 16-subject ($45) sizes. Order from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Mail Orders, Room 602-11A, 14th and C streets S.W., Washington, D.C. 20228.
"How to Grade U.S. Coins," a three-day seminar conducted by the American Numismatic Assn., will be held in San Diego Sept. 9-11 at the Town and Country Hotel, 500 Hotel Circle. The seminar will be taught by the ANA Certification Service staff and will include hands-on experience, lectures and audio/visual presentations. Tuition is $350 for members; $400 for non-members. For information: (800) 367-9723.
Walter J. Pienciak is offering a mail-bid auction, the Delaware-Raritan Collection, closing Sept. 9. A highlight is an 1896-O $1 certified MS-65/65. Catalogues are $1 from Pienciak, P.O. Box 119, Milltown, N.J. 08850; telephone (201) 828-6539.
Yet another Olympic coin set is now available. Being honored this time is American diver Greg Louganis, who is featured on a four-piece proof set issued by the Marshall Islands. The set (also available uncirculated) features a $100 gold piece and three $25 silver coins, all legal tender in the Marshalls. The coins were produced by Sunshine Mining Co. in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and are being distributed by American Express. Card holders can order by telephone: (800) 528-8000.
A directory of North American dealers selling the Britannia gold-bullion coin is now available. The 44-page publication lists dealers, banks and precious metals outlets in the United States and Canada. For a free copy, call the British Royal Mint, (800) 222-BRIT or write P.O. Box 937, Millbrook, N.Y. 12545.