Question: In sorting through some old coins in preparation for moving, I came across a memento of President Nixon's inauguration, an envelope reading "Seal of the President of the United States" and on the other side the words, "Richard M. Nixon Inauguration 1-20-69, 37th President of the United States of America." The envelope is postmarked "Yorba Linda, Ca. 92686, Jan. 20 AM 1969." I purchased it from a local druggist as a courtesy at a time when the people of Yorba Linda were feeling honored at being the birthplace of a President. I would appreciate your opinion before consigning it to the wastebasket or giving it to one of the grandchildren.--E.C.L.
Answer: Although a cloud may hang over the Richard M. Nixon Administration, he will undoubtedly go down in history as one of our more interesting Presidents, and people will collect Nixon memorabilia as they do that of Washington, Lincoln and other historic figures. What you have described is not, strictly speaking, a numismatic item. However, it would fit nicely into a collection of Nixon medals and commemoratives from that era.
Regardless of your politics, I would strongly advise against consigning your souvenir to the wastebasket. It was recently announced that the Nixon presidential library would be built in Yorba Linda. You might want to submit the Nixon seal to the library as a gift. Or, as you suggest, one of your grandchildren might treasure it. It undoubtedly has some value, but not enough time has elapsed to determine its real worth or rarity.
If my vote counts in this matter, avoid the paper shredder; go for historical perspective.
Q: My observant son came across a $5 bill that has a printing error. A stripe about half of an inch wide runs down either side; it has the opposite side of the bill printed on it. Is this of any value?--L.E.G.
A: Most bill errors that I receive inquiries about have little or no value. Yours is an exception because it is a major error. These things do happen from time to time, and they manage to pass rather rigid inspection. That's what makes them valuable. Depending upon the condition of your $5 bill, it could be worth between $25 and $75.
Tristan da Cunha and the Cayman Islands are both celebrating the ruby wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip with limited editions of commemorative crowns in gold and silver. Only 75 gold proofs and 2,000 silver proofs are authorized for each country. The Cayman Islands commemoratives are in two denominations; the gold proof with a face value of $250 and the silver proof, $5 (pictured). The common reverse by Norman Stillman features the entwined initials of the royal couple. A new effigy of Queen Elizabeth, by Raphael Maklouf, replaces the Arnold Machin portrait featured in previous collections. A four-piece proof set is also available. The Tristan da Cunha and Cayman Islands gold coins are $995 each; the silver are $39.75 each and the four-piece Cayman proof set is $160. Order from the British Royal Mint, c/o Barclays Bank of New York, P.O. Box 2570, New York, N.Y. 10164-1060; telephone (800) 221-1215.
The 19th semiannual education forum of the American British Numismatic Society will be held Jan. 30 at 2 p.m. in conjunction with the Numismatic Assn. of Southern California convention at the Hyatt Hotel near LAX on Century Boulevard. Richard J. Trowbridge will moderate a forum featuring Elizabeth and William O. Wisslead. Information about the American British Numismatic Society is available from Trowbridge, its executive director, at P.O. Box 652, Saugus, Calif. 91350.