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All oldies should be gold(ies)

We collectors appear to be ready to go wild for coins that will be struck next year with 100-year old designs on them.

The favorite oldie Mercury dime, Standing Liberty quarter and Walking Liberty half dollar designs first used in 1916 will be revived next year on new gold coins to be struck for collectors.

Perhaps revived is the wrong word to use since the Walking Liberty design already was revived in 1986 as the one-ounce American Eagle silver bullion coin and it is still going strong nearly 30 years later.

At the same time, the Saint-Gaudens $20 design from 1907 was borrowed for reuse on the one-ounce gold American Eagle and smaller versions were adopted for use on the three fractional bullion coin sizes.

The Buffalo nickel design of 1913 was reincarnated first as a Buffalo commemorative silver dollar in 2001 and then as a one-ounce gold bullion coin in 2006. In 2008 fractional versions were also produced, but only for a year.

The pattern followed by the Buffalo design might be something to follow in future years.

How would this circulating coin–collector coin–bullion coin pattern be repeated?

We have already had the circulating versions of the three 1916 designs. Next year comes the collector versions in the form of gold coins of these old designs.

The next logical step is for them to become bullion coins.

There is certainly no reason why the 1916 designs could not continue service as bullion coins. It simply becomes a matter of making it happen.

Instead of the multiple sizes of the American Eagle’s Saint-Gaudens’ gold pieces, the Mercury design could become the new tenth-ounce bullion coin, the Standing Liberty design could become the new quarter-ounce gold bullion coin design and the Walking Liberty could become the new half-ounce gold design.

Or, if replacing existing designs is not to your liking, revive the fractional sizes that once belonged to the Buffalo series but put the 1916 designs on those. After all, since the 2008 pieces were terminated, we are not really replacing something, but simply starting new bullion series.

It pays to remember that the American Eagle gold pieces are .9167 fine while the Buffalo is .9999 fine. A line of .9999 fine fractional gold bullion coins with 1916 designs on them might just catch on in the marketplace with collectors being their biggest cheerleaders.

True, the Walking Liberty design would be doing double duty on the one-ounce silver and half-ounce gold, but is that so bad? Perhaps you would want to put the Morgan dollar design on the one-ounce silver piece? That would leave just one use for the Walking Liberty design.

Come 2017 we could have six of the early 20th century designs repurposed to ongoing 21st century service as gold bullion coins.

About the only thing left to consider would be whether the Indian cent design could be revived somehow.

And, if we want to be thorough, there are the Indian Head designs from the old $2.50, $5 and $10 coins to consider, but since popular collector memory of using and collecting the designs of the early 20th century coins plays such an important role in the revival of their designs, there probably would be little objection to simply ignoring them.

But then there still are the three fractional Saint-Gaudens gold bullion coins that could be replaced by these three early 20th century gold designs.

If we do all of these bullion ideas we would have nine, or 10 counting the Morgan design, which would be nearly all of the early 20th century designs, actively working again.

Should we do it? If we do, the Mint and collectors will have little left in the design cupboard to raid and we won’t have much to talk about other than debating just how that Indian cent design fits into the general scheme of things.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."