Question: Concerning the new proof silver and gold Eagles, would you advise owners to sell for a quick profit or hold on to them for a few years?--P.A.
Answer: Frankly, I don't know. A lot depends on why you bought the Eagles in the first place. These U.S. coins, America's first bullion pieces, are also numismatic in nature, because they are dated and have limited (although generous) production figures. So, they serve a double purpose. For investors, they act as an inflation hedge and will rise and fall with the bullion market. For collectors, they fit into type sets and offer an opportunity for Eagle date sets. There is also a historical factor due to the design.
If you sell your Eagles now, you will make a profit. If you hang on to them, there is the possibility of making a greater profit. The fact is, no one knows what the future holds. If you are an investor, you might want to take your profit and reinvest it. If you are a collector, you might want to build on what you have.
My guess is the Eagle will prove to be popular because it crosses investor-collector lines. Therefore it should have solid but rather modest success over the long run. The real financial winners will be the proven rarities in mint state condition. These are pieces with outstanding track records. They've always been expensive and desirable. Chances are they'll be even more so in the future.
Q: Could you please give the approximate value of the following recently discovered coins: 1882, 1898, 1900, 1905 and 1906 Indian head cents; 1867 nickel; 1901 and 1903 V nickels, and a 1918 Buffalo nickel.--W.B.
A: Your Indian head cents are 25 cents each and up, the 1867 Shield nickel is $2 and up, the Liberty head nickels are 25 cents each and up and the Buffalo nickel is 50 cents and up.
Q: I came into possession of this bill (copy enclosed) in the 1920s from my Sunday school teacher. It says "This Bill entitles the Bearer to receive eight Spanish milled dollars or the value thereof in Gold or Silver, according to the Refolutions (sic) of the CONGRESS, held at Philadelphia, the 10th of May 1775. VII DOLL." What is the bill worth?--B.A.
A: Your bill is known as Colonial currency. Most dealers should be able to authenticate it for you or seek out a paper money specialist. Bills such as yours are worth from $5 to $50, depending upon condition.
Q: I have a U.S. $10 gold coin dated 1894. I would like to know its value.--F.W.H.
A: Your eagle is rather common unless it is from the San Francisco Mint. It would have an S mark on the reverse below the eagle. Common dates are worth $215 and up, depending upon condition.
Q: Will the government sell gold and silver coins direct? Also, I have four boxed sets of 1-ounce sterling silver ingots from the Franklin Mint. Is there a market for them?--H.H.
A: The gold and silver U.S. bullion coins have been distributed through private channels and eventually reach the dealer level. Transactions have been brisk but there is evidence of some slowing, as might be anticipated, after the initial excitement. Proof gold and silver bullion pieces have indeed been offered direct by the government. As for your ingots, they are most likely only worth their silver content unless you can find a private buyer willing to pay a premium.
Q: I once gave away a coin and would now like to purchase same for myself. I canot find a single source that has it. Can you help, please? It's from Persia, 1971, bust of Mohammed Riza Pahlevi. Where can I buy it?--H.T.L.
A: Your coin with the bust of the Shah of Iran is rather common and essentially a gold bullion piece. Check with several coin dealers. If you are unsuccessful, attend a coin show where you are almost certain to locate your elusive coin.
Q: I have several hundred dollars in circulated silver coins (silver dollars, halves, quarters and dimes). In 1983, these coins were more valuable as silver than they were as coins. At that time, silver was $14.57 an ounce; now it's about $6.25. Are these coins now worth more as coins, or are they stll more valuable as silver?--J.C.
A: The silver value of your coins will always be worth more than the face value. In today's market, they are worth about 3 1/2 times face value while the silver dollars are $8 and up.
Q: Tell me the value of the following: 1881 $10 gold American Eagle; and an 1894 20-mark gold German coin. Both are in very good condition.--J.G.
A: Your $10 gold piece is $250 and up; the German gold piece is about $85.
A giant panda drinking from a stream (pictured) is depicted in the 1987 Panda coins of the People's Republic of China. The reverse shows, as always, the Temple of Heaven. In this, the sixth year of the program, the Panda will be produced at two different mints for the first time. The mints are Shanghai and Shenyang, with coins carrying an S mint mark for Shanghai and a Y for Shenyang. Two-thirds of the coins will be minted at Shanghai. The coins will again be produced in one-twentieth ounce, one-tenth ounce, one-fourth ounce, one-half ounce and 1 troy ounce of .999 fine gold. They are available from coin dealers separately or in sets. For information, contact Manfra, Tordella & Brookes, 3 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10112; telephone (800) 223-5818.
A 5-ounce silver commemorative will be struck by the Mexico City Mint for the upcoming 96th anniversary convention of the American Numismatic Assn. in Atlanta. Each piece, designed by Alfonso Rodriquez Facio, will be serial numbered. A portion of the profit will go to the ANA's Enterprise Fund. Commemoratives with serial Number 1 and Number 2 will be auctioned at the convention by Bowers and Merena, with proceeds going to the ANA and Sociedad Numismatica de Mexico. For information and possible mail orders, contact Ronald J. Gillio, 1013 State St., Santa Barbara, Calif. 93101.
Monday--More than $1 million is expected to be realized in an auction of 900 coins from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The auction, beginning at 5 p.m. in the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach, will be conducted by Heritage Numismatics of Dallas. Highlights include a proof gold set dated 1875 containing $1, $2 1/2, $5, $10 and $20 denominations. Coins can be viewed beginning Sunday at 11 a.m. at the hotel. For a free catalogue, call Bob Vitt at (800) 872-6467.
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.