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Volume a Key to Mint-Set Investments

Question: I bought a number of 1987 U.S. Mint sets at original-issue prices, believing that the mint would not produce any 1987-dated Kennedy half dollars and that would be the only way for people to obtain 1987 half dollars. The same thing happened in 1970, and as a result, the 1970 mint sets went up in price dramatically. Do you think the 1987 mint sets will also go up in value dramatically in the near term?--R.K.

Answer: The 1987 Mint sets were issued for $7, and they’re still selling in the $7-to-$8 range. The 1970 sets, as you mentioned, have gone up dramatically, having more than tripled in price.

But is that so important? Sure, everyone wants to make a profit, and it’s certainly possible to do so through numismatics. But if you bought one 1987 Mint set, would you sell it? Did you buy five and would you sell four? Did you buy 100 or more?

The point is, in order to make a meaningful profit in something like new issues, it’s necessary to buy in volume--and sell in volume. Some dealers buy new issues in volume and they are then heavily promoted. It’s not the sort of thing the average collector can hope to match or even engage in.

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You had the right idea when you learned about the 1987 Kennedy half dollars. They may well become a key date in the Kennedy series, and, if that’s the case, no doubt the 1987 Mint sets will become a good investment. It’s still too early to tell. But a lot of other people had the same idea, so there are plenty of such sets on the market. No way will these ever become rarities, and it’s unlikely that they will even be blue-chip investments.

If your goal is profit, high-grade rarities is the place to look. As a rule they’re quite expensive. But they have proven records and are not as speculative as new issues. The new issues, however, do offer a certain excitement, and the potential is there if you have the patience to wait for the demand to catch up with the supply.

Q: As an American of English ancestry, I have always been in love with British currency; especially after Queen Elizabeth II came to power. Her portrait on their currency adds glamour to it. Now, the $64 question: Back in 1964, I collected five mint sets of Australian coins, which were in leather-like folders. Then I also purchased from their mint in Canberra five proof sets, supposedly the last year of silver mintage. Could you give me a figure on about what my coins are worth?--E.R.

A: Sorry, but I’m unable to answer your question. My Standard Catalogue of World Coins does not list any mint or proof sets from Australia with the 1964 date. The first year of issue for mint sets is 1966 and they’re worth about $40. Proof sets were offered in 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1969 and other years. But not 1964. The 1966 proof set from Canberra is worth about $200. I suggest you check the dates of your sets and take them to a dealer for verification.

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Q: I’m aware of the value of grading and know that many/most foreign coins are of insignificant worth. May I, however, ask about three? They are: an extra-fine silver 1894 German 5 pfennig; a fine silver 1929 Brazil 400 reis, and a fine silver 1924 Brazil 2,000 reis.--B.R.

A: Your coins are circulated but do have some intrinsic value and slight collector value. The pfennig is worth about $3; the 400 reis is $10 and the 2,000 reis is $5.

Q: I have a 14-karat gold man’s ring with a 1945 dos pesos gold coin. The coin can be taken out. How much would this coin be worth?--M.K.

A: The Mexican 2 pesos is in the $25-to-$27 price range.

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Coin News

Part III of the Norweb Collection sale realized $8.6 million, bringing the total for the collection to $20 million, ranking it as the second most valuable numismatic property ever auctioned. Highlight of the sale, held in New York on Nov. 14 and 15, was the $20 gold 1861-P Paquet, graded MS-67 (pictured), which sold for $660,000. This is the highest price recorded for this denomination and the fourth most expensive U.S coin to be auctioned. Catalogues for all three Norweb sales are $65 each or $185 for all three from Auctions by Bowers & Merena, P.O. Box 1224, Wolfeboro, N.H. 03894; telephone (603) 569-5095.

Commemorative coins and bank notes marking the 35th anniversary of Macau’s Grand Prix are now being marketed. Legal tender coins include a 5-ounce gold 10,000 patacas (only 500 issued), a gold proof 500 patacas (4,500 issued), 5-ounce silver 500 patacas (2,000 issued) and the silver 100 patacas (5,000 issued). For prices and availability, contact the distributor, the Money Co., 5959 Tampa Ave., Tarzana, Calif. 91356; telephone (818) 609-7666.

Portuguese explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries are being honored in a Golden Age of Discoveries series. A palladium coin commemorates the journey of Nuno Tristao, who explored the coast of Africa in the 1440s. A platinum coin commemorates the 16-month voyage of Bartolomeu Dias, the first person to sail from Europe to the Indian Ocean and return. Each coin contains 1 ounce of precious metal. The platinum is $725; the palladium is $275 from the Portuguese Mint’s North American office, P.O. Box 1071, Clifton, N.J. 07014; telephone (201) 471-1441.

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Rep. Frank Annunzio (D-Ill.) has resigned as chairman of the House Coinage and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee after 14 years, during which he helped shape the Treasury’s coinage policy. Recently he opposed redesigning current coinage, and he earlier also stopped a plan to allow private groups to market commemorative Olympic coins.

Annunzio insisted that the Mint should market the coins, a move that has raised $70 million for the Games. Annunzio is now expected to head a subcommittee that will probe the savings and loan industry. Possible successors for the coinage post are Democrats Charles E. Schumer of New York and Mary Rose Oakar of Ohio.


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