Question: The United States Mint stopped selling the Olympic coins last January. I understand it was a successful program. Could you list the final mintage figures and current values for the series? Also, I am building a U.S. proof set collection and need the 1950-1953 sets. What is the current Gray Sheet values for these sets?
Lastly, I would like your opinion on the following: Several dealers have early proof sets in flat plastic (display) cases (not the original box). From a numismatic standpoint, isn’t the value of these sets diminished when they are not in their original packaging? One said it didn’t matter, that it reduced the tarnishing problem caused by electrolysis of the original packaging. What is your opinion?--J.Y.
Answer: Well, you’ve just about touched all the bases, which is good, because in numismatics, just as in baseball, if you want to score, you better know what you’re doing. As far as the mint sets and the packaging, the dealer who told you repackaged sets are just as valuable as the originals is correct. Now it’s possible that this might not always be true. Certain early issues, such as the Panama Pacific sets, are worth more--all other things being equal--in the original packaging. But this has not been the case with the mint sets.
Here’s what you can currently expect to pay for proof sets: 1950, $450; 1951, $250; 1952, $165, and 1953, $105. Make sure that all the coins are spotless and original. Tarnishing, incidentally, is not necessarily a negative. In fact, many collectors believe it enhances the beauty of a coin.
As for the Olympic sets, they continue to be popular. It seems that the 1984 Olympics made an indelible impression on the public in general and collectors in particular. Mintages for uncirculated Olympic silver dollars are: 1983-P, 920,485; 1983-D, 597,157; and 1983-S, 662,837; 1984-P, 470,131; 1984-D, 316,778; and 1984-S, 339,970.
Also, there were 4.5 million 1983 Olympic proof dollars and 2.6 million 1984 Olympic proof dollars. The $10 Olympic gold piece had mintages of 40,000 for the 1984-P; 44,000 for the 1984-D; 55,000 for the 1984-S and 661,000 for the 1984-W. Prices fluctuate considerably for these Olympic pieces, and I’d rather not quote them at this time. The market is still highly speculative.
Q: I have a dollar bill that reads: One silver dollar. It has two presidents on it: Grant and Lincoln. On the back it reads: Silver Certificate. It isn’t in the best of condition; my brother had it folded.--M.S.
A: Your bill has slight collector value, which has been diminished because of its condition. Bills must be crisp and new in order to be worth top dollar, just as coins must be free of wear and marks. Your bill is probably in the $5-to-$20 range.
Q: Please give me the value of the following: 1871 Indian-head cent; three-cent piece (III on the back) dated 1865 in very good condition; 1853 quarter in poor condition but date plainly visible; 1845 large cent and 1864 two-cent piece.--R.A.G.
A: Your 1871 cent is worth $20 or more; the 1865 three-cent (nickel), a first year of issue, is $5 or more; the 1853 quarter is $1 or more; the 1845 large cent and the 1864 two-cent cent are $2 each or more.
Q: I would like to sell some silver dollars in order to pay a debt. Are pre-1925 silver dollars commanding a great price? I have several, but am thinking of two in particular, 1897 and 1898. Also, are Eisenhower dollars of greater value?--K.I.
A: The 1897 and 1898 dates have no particular significance as far as your dollars are concerned. Condition would be the main factor. They’re worth $10 each and up. Proof and S-mint (for San Francisco) Eisenhower dollars carry a premium, as does the 1973-D (for Denver), although most of the S-clad proof dollars are worth only about $1.40. The 1973-S proof Ike dollar is the most valuable of the series, worth about $41. But the vast majority of Eisenhower dollars are just worth face value. You’ll have to check the dates, mint mark and determine whether or not your coins are of proof quality to determine their value.
Q: I have a $5 bill, and the back (with the Lincoln Memorial) has an upper border of 0.3 centimeters and a lower border of 0.9 centimeters. It was the wide, lower border that caught my eye. It is Series 1981-A, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Mo. Does it have any special value?--M.B.
A: Your bill is a slight error. It might carry a slight premium, but probably not enough to make much of a difference.
Q: I would be interested in knowing the values of the following: a 1943-S nickel; several ’80 through ’83 silver-colored coins (nickels, dimes, quarters) marked with the P mint letter next to the date, and a worn bill with Banque L’Indo-Chine on it and cinq francs and Papeete on it underneath that.--A.H.
A: Your 1943 nickel is worth 25 cents and up, your coins dated 1980 and 1983 are just worth face value, and your bill has little or no collector value.
Q: I have large, round Indian peace medals with various presidents on them, and I would like to know their estimated value. Presidents are Washington, 1817; John Q. Adams, 1825; Tyler, 1841; Polk, 1845; Fillmore, 1850; Pierce, 1853; Lincoln, 1862, and Lincoln (no date); Andrew Johnson, 1865; Grant, 1871, and Hayes, 1877.--T.F.
A: Medals are always difficult to classify. I’m not sure what your medals are. I suspect they would only have value if they are gold or silver, or perhaps if sold to a private collector.
Q: I recently came across the following currency notes and would like to know if they are of any value: a $1 bill, silver certificate, Series 1935-F; and a $20, Series 1950. The $1 bill must be 50 years old, and I wonder about its value after reading in your column about bills dating from 1886 and 1889.--M.F.
A: There are a lot of queries regarding silver certificates, but you can be pretty sure that unless you get into the 1920s they’re only worth face value. There are some exceptions; but yours, I’m sorry to say, have no collector value.
Q: I have two United States Liberty one-half cents. One is dated 1809, and although it is still legible, it is very worn. The second one is dated 1832, and I would consider it to be in good-to-very-good condition. Please give me the approximate value of these two coins.--J.S.
A: Your worn half cent is worth $15 and up; the one with less wear is $25 and up.
Q: I have a Mexican commemorative gold coin, 1859-1959, with the image of Carranza on one side; an Austrian 100 corona 1915 gold coin and an 1881 $5 Liberty-head gold piece. Please tell me their worth.--G.J.B.
A: The Carranza birth centennial is listed as silver in my reference book. In any event, its worth is bullion value. The Austrian 100 corona, also spelled korona, is worth about $320, and the half eagle is $135 and up.
One of America’s leading coin dealers, Abe Kosoff, will be chronicled by Q. David Bowers in a new book: “Abe Kosoff: Dean of Numismatics.” Kosoff, who died in 1983, handled many important collections and rarities. The new book details his career and philosophies. A paperback edition is priced at $19.95, while 500 hardcover copies are priced at $49.95 each. Order from Bowers & Merena Galleries, Box 1224-NR, Wolfeboro, N.H. 03894.
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.