Question: I have three $5 gold pieces that have been in the family for many years and reportedly were made from Georgia gold before gold was discovered in California. Two of the coins are dated 1836, have a 5D and an eagle on the back, with Liberty and a lady's profile on the front; they are not new but not badly worn. The third coin is dated 1880, marked Five D, is not new but in good condition. Can you give me some idea of what these coins may be worth?--P.R.P.
Answer: Gold coins probably have more appeal than any others. Gold has been admired since antiquity. The natural beauty is often enhanced by the sculptor's art, while the historical interest also lures the collector. Your 1836 $5 gold pieces are known as half eagles to hobbyists and are called Classic Head types. They are not particularly rare; more than 500,000 were minted. They're probably in the $300-to-$700-each range. The 1880 $5 is rather common and worth $150 and up.
However, whoever told you these coins were from Georgia is mistaken. Gold coins minted in Georgia were produced at the Dahlonega Mint and carried a D mint mark. The 5D and Five D you described indicate the denomination, not the mint. Dahlonega was known as a branch mint, as was another in Charlotte, N.C. Both branch mints produced gold coins only from 1838 to 1861. The Charlotte coins carry a C mint mark.
These branch mint coins are highly desirable. A new book on the subject, "Charlotte Mint Gold Coins: 1838-1861," has just been published. The book, by Douglas Winter, illustrates and details each coin in this series. Mintage and auction information is given along with general information about each piece. The book would be a good addition to the library of any serious collector or investor planning to purchase quality material. "Charlotte Mint Gold Coins" ($14.95 paper, $29.95 hardback, plus $2 for handling) is available from Bowers and Merena Galleries, Box 1224-NR, Wolfeboro, N.H. 03894.
Q: I have a 1963 series Federal Reserve Note $1 bill of which part did not get printed. It has a quarter-inch white line across the back of the bill. Is there any reason to save this? Also, a silver certificate $1 bill upon which part of the gray imprint of the (1) and the margin is printed on the green side of the bill. Another bill, Series 1935 E, has green ink spilled all over the eagle and the 1 on the backside of the bill. Last, a well-worn 1935-E series dollar bill (silver certificate) in which the backside is gold. I have checked these bills carefully; they are not counterfeit. How much are they worth?--T.M.F.
A: I have dealt with error bills in the past. The market on these bills is such that transactions usually are strictly between buyer and seller. Your bills might have a slight premium--if you can find an interested party.
From your descriptions, I would say the bill described as a $1 silver certificate has the best chance of having some collector value. But all this depends on the condition of the bills. They must be crisp and uncirculated to have much of a premium. I would suggest you take your bills to a major coin show where you can get various opinions and offers.
Q: I have three gold coins from France, mounted to be used for jewelry. They are all 20 francs, dated 1852, 1857 and 1867. Could you tell me their value?--M.P.H.
A: Your gold coins are in the $85-to-$95 range. Because they've been used in jewelry, their numismatic value has undoubtedly been diminished.
Q: Please give me your estimate of the following: uncirculated 1958 half dollars, 1957 quarters, and silver dollars dated 1879 to 1884.--R.A.
A: Uncirculated 1958 half dollars are worth about $5 each; uncirculated 1957 quarters are about $4 each, and your silver dollars are $8 each and up, depending upon condition.
Q: I have a $1 silver certificate, series 1958, in fine condition. It looks exactly like the Federal Reserve Note. Is it scarce? It is worth more than $1? Would it pay to save it?--R.L.C.
A: Sorry, but the answer to all your questions is no. The chance of your bill ever being worth more than face value is slight to nil.
A souvenir card commemorating the International Paper Money Show on June 19-21 in Memphis, Tenn., will feature the reproduction (pictured) of the back of a $20 gold certificate, Series 1922. Highlighted is the Great Seal of the United States, depicted in a golden yellow color. Gold certificates circulated until Dec. 28, 1933, when President Franklin Roosevelt ordered them withdrawn from circulation, along with gold coins. It was illegal to possess gold certificates until April 24, 1964, when restrictions were removed. Souvenir cards (item No. 942) are $4 with checks payable to BEP. Order from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Mail Order Sales, Room 602-11A, 14th and C streets S.W., Washington, D.C. 20228.
One of the heroes of the American Revolutionary War, France's Marquis de Lafayette, is the subject of a new commemorative coin by the Mint of France. The coin features a 200-year-old die for the reverse. The original die was sculpted by Benjamin Duvivier for a medal honoring Lafayette in 1789. The Lafayette commemorative is part of a series saluting figures and events in French history. Other coins in the series honored Marie Curie (1984), Emile Zola (1985), Victor Hugo (1985), the Statue of Liberty (1986) and Robert Schuman (1986). Limited numbers will be issued in silver and gold. For information, contact Luis Vigdor in care of Manfra, Torella & Brookes, 30 Rockefeller Center, Mezzanine Office 50, 59 West 49th St., New York, N.Y. 10012; telephone (800) 223-5818.
Tokens, medals, store cards and political items are being assembled by Auctions by Bowers & Merena for the firm's sale Nov. 9-11 in New York City. About 1,000 pieces from the collection of Carl Wurtzback and added to by Virgil Brand will form the core of the sale. Consignments are being accepted by Auctions by Bowers & Merena, Box 1224, Wolfeboro, N.H. 03894.
June 21--The California Exonumist Society's 26th Annual Collectible Show will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Griswold's Inn, 1500 S. Raymond Ave, Fullerton. There will be dealers, door prizes and exhibits. For information, contact Al Baber, the general chairman, at 611 Oakwood Way, El Cajon, Calif.; telephone (619) 442-2726.
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.