The Sacramento Bee
Stamps & Coins: Gifts worth giving and gifts worth avoiding
Dec. 06, 2008
This is the time of year I suggest holiday gifts
collectors might enjoy. In the past, I've also
offered a thought or two regarding items that I
advise against simply because they don't or won't
have the value some could be hoping for.
After seeing a TV commercial last weekend I realized
history is again repeating itself in more ways than
one. The ad was promoting a new Barack Obama
gold-plated collector's coin. Several companies are
also promoting these on the Internet.
The thing is, the items are simply currently
available coins with a color sticker of Obama
plastered on them. Most come in nice display cases.
The packaging may prove to be the most valuable part
of the deal.
Several coin dealers with whom I spoke said they
wouldn't pay more than the face value of the coins.
That means for the Obama "coin" (one of which is
merely a Kennedy half dollar with the sticker applied)
dealers would pay 50 cents. The cost for the coin in
the ad was just under $15, including shipping.
Other denominations of coins have similar stickers,
but dealers again offered only the face value.
Of course, there are numerous presidential coins
produced by the U.S. Mint. The most notable of these
are the new Presidential golden dollar series
started last year. This month, the eighth and final
golden dollar coin of 2008 is being released.
The new dollar coin features Martin Van Buren.
Granted, he may not have the notoriety of Washington,
Lincoln or Kennedy, but like Obama - the first black
president - Van Buren had his own "first." He was
the first president born in the United States.
There is no guarantee the new Van Buren golden dollar
coins will be worth more than their face value in the
future, but they certainly cost less than the
modified coins with Obama's image on them being sold
for a serious premium.
Then again, there may be one thing that could enhance
the value of the Van Buren coins in the future.
In the past, golden dollar coins have had the motto
"In God We Trust" imprinted on the edge of the coin.
But, some went through the minting process and
erroneously didn't have that imprinted. As such,
beginning in 2009, all dollar coins will have that
motto emblazoned on the front of the coin. The Van
Buren dollar coin will be the last one minted with
the motto on the edge.
The golden dollar coins will soon be popping up in
banks and cash drawers at face value. They're also
available in collector gift sets in uncirculated or
proof condition for a premium directly from the
Mint at: www.usmint.gov, or by calling (800) USA-MINT.
Peter Rexford writes for Creators Syndicate.
Contact him at P.O. Box 50377, St. Louis, MO 63105.