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New “coins” honoring President-elect Barack Obama should be considered only as souvenirs and not be viewed as rare coins or an investment, cautions officials of the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG), a non-profit organization composed of the nation’s top rare coin dealers.

“All of the items we’ve seen offered so far on television and online are merely political mementos that certainly may be enjoyable as a keepsake, but typically will have little or no re-sale value later in the mainstream numismatic market,” said PNG President Gary Adkins of Edina, Minn.

Privately-produced items are not legal tender U.S. coins. In cases where a marketer has altered an actual U.S. coin by putting a sticker with Obama’s picture on it, knowledgeable collectors usually consider that to be merely defacing the coin, Adkins said.

“Some of the so-called ‘Obama coins’ are layered or plated with a microscopically-thin layer of gold with the implication that they are potentially valuable bullion items,” he noted. “However, there usually is precious little precious metal value to plated pieces. Beware of bogus bargains.”

In the PNG’s consumer protection pamphlet, “What You Should Know Before You Buy Rare Coins,” the section on modern coins advises: “If you like the subject theme represented by these coins, admire the beauty of the design or would like to own them as a souvenir or to show support for their particular cause, by all means buy them. But if your goal is capital appreciation or making a profit, you’re better off avoiding this type of material.”

Consumer education tips and an online directory of PNG member-dealers are available at www.PNGdealers.com. The PNG was established in 1953, and its members must adhere to a strict Code of Ethics in the buying and selling of numismatic merchandise.

For a copy of the pamphlet, “What You Should Know Before You Buy Rare Coins,” send $1 to cover postage costs to: Robert Brueggeman, PNG Executive Director, 3950 Concordia Lane, Fallbrook, CA 92028. Phone: (760) 728-1300.  E-mail: info@PNGdealers.com. Online: www.PNGdealers.com.

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