Selecting the Right Method of Appraisal

Question: A friend died recently and named me executrix. Found among the belongings were many intriguing coins. Of particular interest: an 1837 1 cent; 1865 3 cent; 1866 2 cent; 1847 Hapa Haneri Aupuni Hawaii; 1883 Kala Kaua I King of Hawaii D, and three 1883 Kala Kaua I King of Hawaii dimes. Also, can you recommend a good reference I can use for old foreign coins?--E.M.

Answer: There are several ways to appraise coins. If you are doing this for estate purposes, it may be necessary to go to a professional numismatist. The fee is usually about $75 an hour. If you are just trying to satisfy your curiosity and perhaps distribute the estate evenly to the heirs, there are several reference books. For foreign coins, the Standard Catalogue of World Coins by Krause and Misher is a handy guide.

Coins must be seen to be appraised accurately. If your U.S. coins are uncirculated, they could have considerable value. If circulated, the 1837 cent is in the $3-to-$10 range, the 1865 3-cent piece is $4 to $10, the 1866 2-cent piece is $3 to $10; the 1847 Hawaiian cent is $75 to $200; the 1883 Hawaiian quarter is $100, and the 1883 Hawaiian dimes are $75 each.

There are numerous reference books on items like coins, tokens and paper money. For your purposes, it might be best to check with several dealers. Prices will vary from dealer to dealer, depending upon how they grade the coins and whether they have a ready market for the coins. Dealers prefer to buy and sell rapidly, rather than tie up their funds. An item that is likely to stay in stock is less desirable than one that will generate a quick profit.

Since each dealer has different needs and different standards, it pays to shop around.

Q: I was very interested in your item re Carson City silver dollars. I have a set of 13 CC dollars, which I purchased in the early '60s. I bought them because I had been reading a lot about the early West. The coins were sold as mostly Very Fine or About Uncirculated, and four or five were designated as Uncirculated.

I developed an interest in another hobby and decided to sell the CC dollars to pursue my new hobby. A dealer advised me to buy a jar of "toner" from him and apply it to my coins. Well, I ruined the coins, especially the uncirculated ones. I have tried every way I know to remove the toner paste. What can I do?--V.C.

A: I'm not sure anything can be done to undo the damage. For years I've pleaded with people to leave their coins alone. Don't touch them. Don't breathe on them. Don't handle them. Above all, don't try to enhance them. Coins will tone naturally with age, and many collectors believe this toning adds to a coin's beauty and value. But if this is attempted artificially, the results can be disastrous, as you relate.

At this point, you might take your CC dollars to a dealer (not the one who sold you the toner) who may be able to restore your coins somewhat. But I suspect your coins will not have the value they would have had if you had just left them alone.

Q: I have an 1849 1 cent and an 1866 dime. Could you please tell me the value?--R.H.

A: The 1849 large cent is $3 and up; the 1866 dime is $5 and up. All coins must be seen to be properly evaluated.

Q: We have a coin we found on a sightseeing tour of Pompeii many years ago. A numismatist in Rome said it was a "3rd-Century Constantine." Could you suggest a person or place where we could take it for further appraisal?--E.E.G.

A: Ancient coin collectors and dealers are specialists, because the majority of interest is in U.S. coins. However, many large dealerships have experts in many areas, including ancient coins, while some independent dealers concentrate on them exclusively.

I do not recommend specific dealers, but a call to a dealer near you should put you on the right track; or else attend a major coin show where many dealers in ancient coins will be in attendance. Also, there's the Ancient Coin Club of Los Angeles, P.O. Box 227, Canoga Park, Calif. 91305.

Q: Could you help me with the value of the list enclosed? A $1 silver certificate Series of 1923; 1776-1976 half dollar, and silver dollars dated 1879, 1880, 1896, 1922 and 1923.--N.C.

A: Your $1 bill is worth $5 to $25, depending upon condition; the Bicentennial half dollar is worth face value, and the dollars are each in the $9-to-$12 range.

Q: Enclosed is a picture of a medal that was earned by my father-in-law in 1896. He was an avid bike rider and was still pedaling (in a three-piece suit) in his 70s. The medal is silver and beautifully engraved. Part of the inscription is 1896, Trans Continental Relay Race. I would appreciate your telling me whatever you can about this medal, including monetary value.--Y.T.

A: Your medal was obviously awarded for a bicycling feat near the end of the century. Its value would be difficult to pinpoint, but whatever it is, it should be worth more to you and your family than to a collector. To learn more about the 1896 race, it would be necessary to check old newspaper files. The Los Angeles Public Library might be able to help you with this.

Coin Book

One of the joys of numismatics is the incidental history that is an adjunct to collecting. Adding to the lore is "Recollections of a Mint Director" by Frank A. Leach, which is really a work originally published in 1917 as "Recollections of a Newspaperman." The cover (pictured) depicts the San Francisco Mint after the 1906 earthquake, which is described in great detail by Leach, who joined the Mint after a newspaper career. "Recollections" is a modest book with some interesting insights into the Mint's operation. It is available for $9.95 plus $2 postage from Bowers and Merena, Box 1224, Wolfeboro, N.H. 03894.

Coin News

More than 4,700 items will be on the auction block in a five-session auction Jan. 30-Feb. 2 being conducted by Superior Galleries at 9478 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills. The A. Bernard Shore Collection Sale opens at 6 p.m. Jan. 30 with Colonial coinage, and includes half cents, large cents, small cents, 3-cent silver and 3-cent nickels, nickels, half dimes and dimes. Session 2, at 11 a.m. Feb. 1, includes 20-cent pieces, quarters and half dollars. Session 3, at 6 p.m. Feb. 1, has silver dollars and trade dollars. Session 4, at noon Feb. 2, specializes in commemorative silver. Session 5, at 6 p.m. Feb. 2, ranges from proof and mint sets to gold, type coins, medals, tokens, currency and world coinage. Catalogue and viewing information may be obtained from Superior at (213) 230-9855.

Coin Calendar

Friday to Sunday--About 150 dealers are expected to participate in the San Diego Show and Auction at the Holiday Inn at the Embarcadero, 1355 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. The auction of more than 700 lots begins Friday at 7 p.m.

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