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Melt, sell or display 1933 gold $20s?

What should the government do with the 10 1933 $20 gold pieces that a Pennsylvania judge has confirmed belong to it?

Numismatic News posts a poll question today asking if they should be melted.

I expect most coin collectors would recoil at such a thought as some sort of cultural vandalism. I hope government officials do as well.

So what are the alternatives?

The government is not likely to decide to sell them to raise money to help cover the federal budget deficit. That would be too daring.

The only piece legally in private hands sold for $7.59 million plus $20 in 2002 at a New York City auction.

What 10 additional examples would bring in an age of trillion dollar annual deficits probably would not tempt usually cautious officials even if they declared the revenue would help save the cent.

Put the coins on display at the Smithsonian Institution? How many of these does it need would probably be the rejoinder to this suggestion. It already has two.

But in its favor is the simple point that no one could argue with the Smithsonian as custodian if the coins are preserved.

Perhaps the Smithsonian could be guardian of the coins and negotiate permanent loans with other institutions that have an interest in numismatics and proper security in place to keep any such loaned coin safe.

That would open the door to the possibility of the American Numismatic Association displaying one in its Edward C. Rochette Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the American Numismatic Society in New York City.

Putting one in the new tour area at the Philadelphia Mint would add extra pizzazz to its newly upgraded status and likely draw additional tourists.

Perhaps the Mint should take them to next year’s American Numismatic Association convention in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont and display them to kick off a national: “What should we do with these coins?” contest.

The Mint could take suggestions from the public and recommend the government adopt the best one.

That would generate good will and perhaps arrive at something wholly unexpected but undeniably appropriate for the government, the public and collectors.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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