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Buffalo and Morgan questions

After yesterday’s exercise in trying to make sense in the fluctuations in the price of gold, it is refreshing to turn my attention to what for most hobbyists are “no brainer” issues.

Everybody has to start the learning curve somewhere. At any given time, someone is just taking their first steps in this hobby of ours.

An email sent to me inquired about the value of two dateless Buffalo nickels that he had just gotten in change.

They do have a value. The coins are still used in jewelry, so you might be able to get a quarter apiece for the two nickels.

Obviously, the profit involved is less than the price of a first class postage stamp.

Most people probably wouldn’t bother to take the issue further, but to a beginning collector, such coins open up a door to all sorts of questions and feed a sense of wonder.

Perhaps these two coins were spent by a collector or a hobby group trying to sow the seeds of a future hobby generation by calling attention to what is being received in change.

Perhaps the two nickels for many years were sitting in a bureau drawer somewhere with other coins and simply taken to the bank.

We will never know.

Another question that came my way was from someone who had a 2010 copy of Coin Digest. He knew that prices of gold and silver were rising and wanted to double check on the value of some Morgan dollars he had.

He told me he had checked all of the dates and that they were common. He also said they were in various circulated grades.

I told him they were probably worth around $30 each, but he should check the APMEX website to figure out a more accurate price.

That seemed to startle him a bit.

The idea of simply trading dollars in bulk apparently had not occurred to him, as he perhaps pictured a coin dealer in a small shop carefully examining each one.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that these kinds of questions demonstrate a lively continuing interest in numismatics at the grass-roots level.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."