There's been such a proliferation of Olympic coinage that eventually it will warrant a separate catalogue. For now, however, here's an update on just some of the pieces that are available for the 1988 Games in Seoul.
Heading the list are the official Olympic coins, which have been a tradition since 1951 when Finland issued coins for the 1952 Games in Helsinki. This year's Korean pieces have been issued in four series of six coins each, including two gold and four silver. Series IV includes the gold 1 1/2-ounce Pagoda and gold 1/2-ounce Seesaw; plus silver 1-ounce cycling, 1-ounce soccer, 1/2-ounce wrestling and 1/2-ounce top spinning.
The entire series is distributed by MTB Banking Corp., 90 Broad St., New York, N.Y. 10004-2290; telephone (800) 535-7481.
The United States entry in the coin Olympics includes a $5 gold and $1 silver duo. The gold proof is $235, gold uncirculated is $225, two-coin proof set (gold and silver) $260; two-coin uncirculated set (gold and silver) $250; four-coin proof and uncirculated set, $550, and 1988 prestige set (Olympic dollar plus half dollar, quarter, dime, nickel, 1 cent), $45. For information: (800) 922-4400.
Mexico is issuing a 12-ounce silver Olympic commemorative limited to 750 pieces. The coin is 3 1/8 inches in diameter and 5/16 of an inch thick. The reverse depicts an ancient Greek coin of two nude wrestlers plus 11 modern international competitive events. The obverse features Mexico City Mint historical hand presses. The 12-ounce silver proof piece is $295; a 2-ounce version limited to 1,000 pieces is $39.
Order from Colonial Coins, 909 Travis St., Houston, Tex. 77002; telephone (800) 231-2392.
Portugal's first Olympic commemorative coin depicts five runners in motion and contains the legend, XXIV Jogos Olimpicos--Seul 1988 (24th Olympic Games--Seoul 1988). It is about the size of a silver dollar and available in three versions: sterling silver brilliant uncirculated, sterling silver proof and cupro-nickel. There will be 70,000 in silver uncirculated for $25 each; 30,000 silver proof for $38 each, and 800,000 in cupro-nickel for $6.95 each. A set of three is $65.95.
Order from the Portuguese State Mint's North American office, P.O. Box 1071, Clifton, N.J. 07014; telephone (201) 471-1441.
Question: We were left a gold coin bracelet, another smaller one plus a pair of $2 1/2 gold earrings. Would truly appreciate an evaluation. Coins consist of an 1856 $1 graded MS-60; 1874 round California quarter dollar, MS-55; 1858 California half dollar, MS-60; 1902 $2 1/2, MS-62; 1856 $3, MS-65; 1908 $10, MS-62; 1914 $20, MS-50; 1945 50 pesos, MS-60; a Saudi Arabian piece, 1 pound; 1909 $5, MS-60; 1874 California gold $1, MS-60; 1911 $5, MS-65, and 1912 and 1927 $2 1/2, both MS-60.R.G.W.
Answer: I don't know who graded your coins, but I doubt the accuracy. As I said earlier, coins made into jewelry almost always show wear. However, if your gold coins have been graded properly, they have considerable value. The 1856 $1, for instance, is $600; the California or Pioneer gold quarter dollar is $250; the California half dollar is $150; the 1902 $2 1/2 is $900; the $3 is $12,000; the $10 is $950; the $20 is $575; the 50 pesos is also $575; the Saudi pound is $110; the 1909 $5 is $700; the 1874 $1 is $200; the 1911 $5 is $5,000; and the two $2 1/2 pieces are $450 each.
Q: I have $10 and $5 coins from the Montreal Olympics. Do they have more than face value? I also have a 1983 1/2-ounce gold Panda, proof. Can you tell me its value?--P.R.W.
A: Your Canadian pieces are worth about face value. The 1983 1/2-ounce gold Panda is worth $395.
Q: I have a 1972 Philippine peso and a Republic of Panama Balboa. Do they have any value?A.B.
A: Your Philippine peso is worth 20 cents. The Panama Balboa is $45 if uncirculated. Circulated, it's worth bullion value, about $4.
Q: I have several buttons and pins that were given to me by my mother. Political buttons include Woodrow Wilson and Alfred Smith; World War I buttons include the Red Cross and Liberty Loan. What is the approximate value?--E.C.
A: Some coin dealers may handle such material, but that's really stretching the definition of numismatics. You'll have to check with some collectible stores and negotiate for the best price.
Q: I have coins issued by the United States during U.S. rule in the Philippines. One-peso pieces, dated 1907 and 1909; 50, 20 and 10 centavos, dated 1944 and 1945. Can you give me an estimate of their value?--A.E.B.
A: Your Philippines pesos are worth about $5 each; the centavos are each in the 75-cents-to-$1 range.
Q: I have some foreign currency that was collected some years ago and I had forgotten about. I would like to know if they are worth anything today and where to cash them.--R.A.R.
A: Your Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Allied-occupation bills are worth about $2 to $3 each. Any coin dealer would be a potential buyer.