Unwary consumers are constantly bombarded by offers for one thing or another. High on the list are coins, and unscrupulous salespeople ply their trade through telemarketing, newspaper and magazine ads and direct sales.
I was reminded of the practice of offering overpriced coins in a slick package by a reader, R.G.W. of Fallbrook. The reader forwarded to me an eye-catching, four-page brochure he had received in the mail from an official-sounding company. It blared: "Special public release! To be offered to U.S. citizens only. Announcing the public sale of original U.S. govt.-minted brilliant uncirculated 'O-marked' Morgan silver dollars. Only silver dollars of their kind ever minted in U.S. history."
Well, who could resist such an offer?
The kicker, as R.G.W points out, is that they're charging $95 each for these 1883-O, 1884-O and 1885-O coins.
"Would you dare tell your public what one could buy these dates for at a dealer?" R.G.W. asks.
And that's the point of this article. Most of the offerings you get through solicitations are greatly overpriced. In this instance, coins being offered for $95 can probably be bought from a dealer for about $25.
As the ad says: "Price can only be guaranteed for the life of this offer! Supply guaranteed only for as long as they last."
So, buyer beware. And be smart. Read the fine print, and if you don't understand it, check it out.
Q: I realize your column is mostly devoted to coins, but I would appreciate it if you could provide me with some related information. When did the United States replace the very large paper bills with smaller currency bills? Do the large bills have any value today beyond their face value? --E.H.
A: The larger bills were replaced in 1928. They are highly collectible and many have considerable value. As with coins, condition is a factor.
Q: I am looking for the address of Numismatic News. If you have this information, I would appreciate your providing it for me. --B.S.
A: Numismatic News can be reached at 70 E. State St., Iola, Wis. 54990. Subscriptions are $12.95 for six months, $24.95 for a year.
Q: I have four silver dollars dated 1897, 1921, 1923 and 1974. I was told one had more than $1 value. Which one is it? --B.L.
A: Actually, three of your coins are silver and the other is copper-nickel. That one is the 1974 Eisenhower dollar, which is worth only face value. Your other dollars are indeed silver and worth $6 to $8 each and up, depending upon condition.
Before you know it, the 1992 Olympics will be here. The first of undoubtedly many numismatic items connected with these summer games from Barcelona, Spain, has just arrived. It's a medal (pictured) issued by the Olympic Committee of Spain, available in bronze ($29.50) and bronze silver ($36), plus $2 for handling, from the U.S. distributors, Medacoin International, P.O. Box 81656, Las Vegas, Nev., 89180; telephone (702) 871-8927.