Commemorative coins continue in the numismatic spotlight with the issuance of a new series honoring the Bicentennial of Congress (1789-1989). The coins (pictured) include a $5 gold piece featuring the Capitol dome; a silver $1 featuring the Statue of Freedom, which sits atop the dome, and a half dollar featuring a bust of the Statue of Freedom.
Mintages are limited to a maximum of 1 million $5 gold coins, 3 million $1 silver coins and 4 million half dollars. Other recent U.S. Mint commemoratives include the 1982 coins marking the 250th birthday of George Washington; 1983 and '84 Olympic coins; 1986 Statue of Liberty coins; 1987 Constitutional Bicentennial, and the 1988 Olympic coins.
Each coin will be issued in proof and uncirculated condition. They were designed by John Mercanti (the $5), William Woodward (the $1) and Patricia Lewis Verani (the half dollar), with assistance by Mint engravers Chester Y. Martin and Edgar Z. Steaver.
There are 12 possible options for ordering the congressional coins. Coins ordered before July 17 have a pre-issue discount price. As an example, the proof half dollar pre-issue price is $7; the regular price is $8. The silver proof $1 is $25 pre-issue; the regular price is $29. The proof gold is $195 pre-issue, $215 regular. The 6-coin proof and uncirculated set is $435 pre-issue, $480 regular.
All prices include a surcharge that will be placed into the Capitol Preservation Fund. Proceeds will be used to restore the Statue of Freedom and to install Capitol fountains. The surcharges are $35 for the $5 coin, $7 for the $1 and $1 for the half dollar.
To order, call (301) 436-7400; or write to Customer Service Center, United States Mint, 10001 Aerospace Drive, Lanham, Md. 20706.
Question: I have an Italy 1965, California-gold half dollar, Mexico 1971, 1892 Indian head penny, 1935 Liberty Head dime and 1945 Mexico. Could you tell me the value?--E.I.
Answer: Your descriptions are very imprecise. As far as I can guess, the foreign coins have no collector value. The California gold piece could be worth about $75. The Indian head cent is worth about 50 cents, as is the 1935 dime.
Q: I am curious as to the value of pennies, most in good condition, dating from 1916 (the oldest of my collection) through 1945. Some have an S under the date (what does that specify?) while some do not. How does the letter under the date affect the value, if at all?--J.P.
A: Coins are valued by date, denomination, condition, mint mark and rarity. The S you refer to signifies the San Francisco Mint. Lincoln cents were made from 1909 to the present. They were also minted in Philadelphia (no mint mark) and Denver (D mint mark). Good reference books include the "Standard Guide to the Lincoln Cent" by Sol Taylor, "United States Copper Coins" by Q. David Bowers and "A Guide Book of United States Coins" by R. S. Yeoman.
Q: I have some old bank notes that are not in the best condition. They are: Hundert mark, Reichsbanknote, Berlin, November 1920; Zehn mark, Reichsbanknote, Berlin 1920; Tausend kronen, Oesterreichisch, Ungarische Bank, Wien 2 Janner 1902; 10 yuan, the Central Bank of China, 1942; tien frank of Twee Belgas, Banque Nationals de Belgique; cinq francs, series of 1944, Emis en France.--A.S.
A: Sorry to disappoint you, but your bills have little or no collector value.
Q: Enclosed is a copy of a 1772 paper shilling I found recently while cleaning out a relative's house. Can you tell me its worth?--S.R.
A: Your bill is called Colonial currency by collectors. It's worth $25 and up, depending upon signatures and condition.
Q: Do any of the following have any value? A Lincoln-head cent with wreath reverse, dated 1944, 1945 and 1946, and a penny that seems to have been struck off-center. The design is only on half of the coin--front and back.--L.G.
A: Your wartime cents of 1944, '45 and '46 have essentially no collector value. Your error cent is worth about $3.
Q: We have two old pennies dated 1880 and 1801 with Indian heads on the front side and a wreath on the back. Could you please let us know if these are worth anything other than sentimental value?--O.P.
A: You've described Indian head cents, which were made from 1859 to 1909. The date of 1801 is obviously a mistake. Perhaps you meant 1881. In any event, Indian head cents are worth 40 cents and up, depending upon condition. High-grade and key-date cents can be worth several hundred dollars.
Alpert cannot answer mail personally but will respond to numismatic questions of general interest in this column. Do not telephone. Write to Your Coins, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.