Dr. Sol Taylor

Readers Write

By Dr. Sol Taylor
"Making Cents"
Saturday, February 23, 2008

I have a nice new $5 bill with the back well off-center. The right margin is much wider than in the front, and the left margin has no white space at all. Is this a valuable error?

A: It may have minor value to a collector. I doubt if a dealer would pay much more than $5 for the note.

Q: Since I almost never see any Kennedy halves any more, does that mean the Mint stopped making them?

A: Partially true. The last Kennedy halves made for circulation were the 2001-D issues. The other annual issues are made only for Mint sets and proof sets and are not likely ever to be found in change. Those issues, mostly 1971-2001, are of no numismatic value. The 1964 issues are 90 percent silver and are worth their bullion content, which is about $7 at today's value of $20 per ounce, while the 1965-69 issues are 40 percent silver and are worth about $3 at today's bullion price. The 1970-D and 1970-S non-regular issues are scarce dates and worth much more than their 40 percent silver content.

Q: When the new Washington brass dollar came out, I bought a roll from my bank. Recently I unwrapped the roll and found that none had any lettering on the edge. Is this a common variety?

A: So far, this is a fairly scarce error and retails for approximately $100 per coin. How many were made is unknown, and no market value can be projected for now.

Q: I recently bought a brilliant uncirculated Walking Liberty half dollar on eBay in a capsule from a grading service called NTC and marked as "MS-65." I paid $45. I was told by some friends two things: One, the grading service has no legitimacy, and two, the coin is not MS-65; in fact it is not uncirculated.

A: Sorry, your friends are correct. NTC is one of several services downgraded recently by eBay and cannot use the word "certified" for any of their coins. Coin dealers do not generally buy any such encapsulated coins.

Q: I collect Barber dimes, quarters and halves. Ninety percent of my coins are graded Good to Fine — a few better than that. When I see a certified coin from a "lesser" service graded anywhere from Good to Very Fine, I examine it to see if the grade is OK with me and will I pay what I want for the coin — I discard the holder and keep my coins in my albums. I suggest other collectors use their experience, good eyesight and a 10-power loupe to do the same. These so-called "junk" holders are worthless for high-end coins, but so far I have seen pretty good ones for coins in the lower ranges of Good to Fine.

A: Although not a question, it is sound advice.

Q: I returned from a trip to Europe and wound up with lots of euro "type" coins. I thought they were all the same for the countries of the European Union, but they aren't. Why is this so?

A: They are the same in size for each denomination and one side for common EU themes. The obverse, however, is specific to the issuing country — often the national emblem. A one-euro coin in Ireland is the same size and composition as the one-euro coin in Germany and Greece and the other EU countries. Also, each EU country can issue large-sized euros in denominations up to 100 euros in gold and smaller euros in silver and maintain national themes on both sides. Such mega-euros are made for collectors and are not meant to circulate.

Q: My late uncle was a World War II veteran and earned a bronze star with two oak leaf clusters. It was still in the box when he died. Is this of any value? Because no one in the family really wants it.

A: I checked with two local dealers who handle military medals. The range of value was $35 to $50. The higher value is for the medal, the box and any related papers. There are many available to collectors today.

    Dr. Sol Taylor of Sherman Oaks is president of the Society of Lincoln Cent Collectors and author of The Standard Guide to the Lincoln Cent. Click here for ordering information.