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Sentimental Value May Exceed Price

January 26, 1989|DON ALPERT

Question: In going over some of my great grandfather's mementos from Civil War days, I came up with a penny--in good condition--and would like to know its worth. It is dated 1858 and has a flying eagle on the face, United States of America around the edge. The back has the words "one cent" surrounded by a wreath of leaves.--B.H.

Answer: You've described the Flying Eagle 1-cent piece. It's a short-lived series, 1856 to 1858. The 1856 cent was actually a pattern with only about 1,000 issued. All of these early pieces are quite valuable. The 1857 and 1858 are actually quite common with millions produced.

The Flying Eagle was used as a transition coin and followed the long run of the Large Cent. Since the cent was downsized, it was felt that it would take a while for the public to accept something smaller with the same face value. In 1859 the cent was redesigned once again, this time with the popular Indian head design.

At one time Flying Eagles were highly prized by collectors. Some of its popularity has faded as silver dollars and gold pieces have gained collector attention. But such dips tend to be cyclical and no doubt the Flying Eagle will emerge once again as a collector favorite.

Meanwhile, nice specimens are still quite expensive. Your 1858 cent, one of 24.6 million minted, is probably in the $5-to-$20 range, depending upon condition. I suspect it has more sentimental value than that.

Q: In the 1828 census of Hungary, taxes were calculated in "Rfl." and "xr." In 1828, Hungary was under Austrian rule, and the "x" and "xr." is clearly from the cross design after which the Austrian kreutzer and the Hungarian krajcar were named, so that the "xr." was one or both of those coins. Clearly, the "Rfl." is some kind of florin, and the tax sums of the census imply 60 xr. equals 1 Rfl., which was the ratio up to 1858. But what particular coin was the "Rfl."? I've checked Krause's catalogue with no luck.--A.G.F.

A: This is one of those obscure questions that defy an answer, at least as far as I'm concerned. I've checked with some authorities but no one seems to know. You might want to check with the government of Hungary, or perhaps one of our readers can supply an answer.

Coin Calendar

Today, Friday and Saturday--The 34th annual convention of the Numismatic Assn. of Southern California will have a "New Horizon" theme honoring the American Indian this weekend. Highlighting the show will be an auction of the estate of Byron F. Johnson Jr. The sale begins tonight at 7, continues Friday at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. and concludes Saturday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Hyatt Airport, 6225 W. Century Blvd. Speakers include John Lenker on "The Changing Life of the American Indian" and Randy Briggs on "Emperor Norton." Many dealers will be on hand. Admission is $1.

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday--Two major auctions are being conducted by Superior Galleries of Beverly Hills. The Moreira Collection, Part 3, goes on the block Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with the highlight of the sale an 1879 quintuple gold Stella with a pedigree that can be traced back to its date of issue. A Connoisseur's Collection of United States Gold Rarities will be sold Tuesday, following the Moreira sale. Coins may be viewed at Superior by appointment. Catalogues are also available from Superior, 9478 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills, Calif. 90212-4299; telephone (213) 272-0851.

Wednesday--Certsale V, consisting of more than 500 United States coins certified by several grading services, will lead off the 11th Annual Long Beach Numismatic & Philatelic Winter Exposition, which opens the following day. The sale by Pacific Coast Auction Galleries of Santa Barbara begins at 7 p.m. at the Long Beach Convention Center. The convention follows next Thursday to Feb. 5 at the same location.

Coin News

It's hard to believe that Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man are 50 years old. But it's true: 1989 marks the 50th anniversary of "The Wizard of Oz," an MGM motion picture that will be commemorated in silver and gold proof medals depicting scenes from the film classic. Judy Garland starred as Dorothy (pictured) while Dorothy's slippers (also pictured) serve as the common reverse. There are 12 silver proofs and six gold proofs in the series with only 10,000 gold and 25,000 silver pieces available for each scene. For information, contact Paramount International Coin Corp., 4307 Vineland Road H-1, Orlando, Fla. 32811-9930; telephone (800) 327-9853.

Nepal is issuing its first gold proof set and first 5-ounce silver proof coin. The 1988 Nepal Snow Leopard gold proof set, only 2,000 worldwide, includes 1-ounce, half-ounce, quarter-ounce and one-tenth-ounce pieces. The 5-ounce silver has a mintage of 5,000. Uncirculated Snow Leopard gold coins are available individually or in sets. Ordering information is available from PandaAmerica, 23326 Hawthorne Blvd., Skypark Ten, Suite 150, Torrance, Calif. 90505; telephone (800) 472-6327.

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