Question:I understand that there may easily be great differences in grading standards since 1978. Most of my coins were bought about that time, so I cannot be sure of the MS-63 grade. Coin dealers, some large and reputable, say to send the coins to them and they will grade and return them to me. Would I be jeopardizing what I have by doing this? And if I do, how do I satisfy myself that I will have my own coins returned? I live about 150 miles from Los Angeles, so distance is a factor. Also, how does anyone know that a grading certificate shown to a buyer really applies to the offered coin?
All of this is part of getting my possessions in order and catalogued. If I bought some of these coins at MS-65 and they now grade as MS-60, I wouldn't want my estate to be appraised at the higher value. I have about 100 coins graded MS-60 or higher.--W.O.G.
Answer:I don't blame you for being cautious. The points you have raised are valid. It's true that grading standards are different from what they were in the '70s.
It's also true that coin grading is subjective. Human nature being what it is, the seller is likely to grade a coin higher than the buyer. This is just as true in dealer-to-collector transactions as it is in dealer-to-dealer transactions. So grading is only one factor. Ultimately what matters is the price. Chances are that if your coins were fairly priced when you bought them, you should be able to make a profit today unless they have been affected by certain market fluctuations.
I gather from what you write that you are not really anxious to sell your coins; you just want to have them in order for your heirs. So what you really need is an appraisal with each coin graded and evaluated by today's standards.
Also, you are reluctant to send them through the mail, although this is a common practice and safe as long as your coins are properly insured. There is really little danger using the mails for this purpose. As for having lesser coins returned instead of your own, again this is quite remote. But you could always photograph your coins and only send a few at a time, not sending another batch until the last group has been returned.
Granted, this could be a long process. Perhaps your best bet would be to arrange to have a dealer meet you at your bank. A normal appraisal costs about $75 an hour. If a dealer has to travel a great distance then you'll probably have to pay some sort of travel cost.
Even so, once you select the dealer, it should be worth the cost for the peace of mind you will get in return.
Q:Tell me: Is there a coin club in San Diego, Los Angeles or anywhere else in the United States specializing in Mexican coins?--W.G.
A:The Azteca Numismatic Society is possibly the only exclusively Mexican coin club. It meets on the fourth Friday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at Union Federal Savings, 13300 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. The mailing address is P. O. Box 227, Canoga Park, Calif. 91305.
Other possibilities in your area include the San Diego County Inter-Club Numismatic Council, 2307 Dunstan Road, Oceanside, Calif. 92054, and the San Diego Numismatic Society, P. O. Box 1145, San Diego, Calif. 92112.
Q:I would like to know if my bills are of any value: $5 dated 1934 (blue ink), $5 dated 1963 (red ink), $10 dated 1934.--M.Y.B.
A:Sorry, your bills have no collector value.
Q:I have been saving Eisenhower dollars since 1972. Most of them are in MS-62 condition or better. I have not seen any in circulation and would be interested to know what they are worth if sold to coin dealers.--I.R.
A:The best way to know what your Ike dollars are worth to a dealer is to offer them to a dealer. There are many dates and varieties, so there's no way of generalizing. However, I must say that Eisenhower dollars are not a particularly hot item, so don't be surprised if dealers show little or no interest in your holdings.
Q:I am English and I've accumulated several English coins, some dated before England went decimal in 1971. I wonder if they are of any value. I have half-penny pieces dated 1943, 1959, 1964; penny pieces dated 1914, 1916, 1918, 1920, 1965, 1966, 1967; 3-penny pieces (12 sided), 1941, 1960, 1965, 1967; 6-pence pieces, 1948, 1951, 1956, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967; 1960 shilling; 1910 gold sovereign; 1977 Queen Elizabeth crown; 1980 Queen Elizabeth crowns; 1882 dollar and 1900 dime.--G.M.
A:Your sovereign is worth $75; the 1977 crown, $3; the 1980 crowns, $2 each; the dollar is $10 and up, depending upon condition; the dime $1 and up, and the other English coins are of little or no collector value.
Q:I am collecting medallions. Could you tell me if there is an association or other source for pricing information?--A.M.
A:Medals, medallions, tokens--all sorts of coin-related objects are popular but difficult to price. There is literature available in numerous areas, but it depends on your field of interest. You might try contacting the California Exonumist Society, P. O. Box 6599, San Diego, Calif. 92106.
Q:I have the following coins: dollars dated 1881, 1883, 1884, 1886, 1891, 1892; halves from 1902 to 1963; quarters, 1930 to 1963; dimes, 1909 to 1963, and nickels, 1936, 1907 and 1943-S. Can you tell me the value?--A.R.
A:Your dollars are worth $10 each and up, the halves are $2.50 each and up; the quarters, $1.50 and up; the dimes and nickels, 50 cents each and up.
Q:I have a $20 bill without the Federal Reserve seal. Is it worth anything?--A.V.D.
A:Bills were made both with and without the Federal Reserve notation. There is no special value attached either way.
Sunday--The Covina Coin Club's 24th annual Coin-O-Rama will take place at the Joselyn Center, 815 N. Barranca Ave., Covina, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free admission and parking.
June 3-6--The Robert O. Lawson Collection will highlight the sale by Superior Galleries of more than 4,400 lots at Le Bel Age Hotel, 1020 N. San Vicente Blvd. Lawson was an avid collector of Mexican coinage. The auction is divided into five sessions with U.S. Colonials to half dollars going June 3 at 6:30 p.m., silver dollars to currency on June 4 at 6:30 p.m., ancient coinage to world crowns and minors at 7 p.m. June 5 and coins of Mexico June 6 at 11 a.m. and again at 7 p.m. Coins may be viewed at Superior, 9301 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. For an appointment or catalogue, phone (213) 272-0851.
Don 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.