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Dad's coins offer challenge

Winston Churchill said the American and the British are divided by a common language.

The same might be said about collectors and noncollectors.

I had lunch Tuesday at a local eatery.

I sat at the counter with a husband and wife that I have been acquainted with for years.

The wife engaged me in a conversation about coins and paper money she had gotten from her father, who ran a drive-in years ago.

She had 15 silver dollars that she had arranged to have checked out with another collector in town.

But she wondered about the value of her silver dimes.

I piped up immediately that they were worth between 13 and 14 times face value at current silver prices.

We talked a little while longer and she circled back to the topic by relating what happened when she had taken her coins to a coin dealer.

Apparently, the dealer grouped them on the counter. He pointed to each pile and gave her a value.

That struck her as not paying enough attention to them.

The dimes are worth more than a dime, right, she asked me?

I guessed then and there that the term face value and therefore multiples of face value did not register with her at all

So I said that they were worth $1.30 to $1.40 each.

Don’t you have to look at them, she asked?

I said there is not a single Roosevelt dime that anyone had gotten in circulation that a dealer in a shop would be willing to pay more than silver value for.

What about Eisenhower?

Eisenhower dollars have no extra value, I answered, assuming they were clad and obtained from circulation.

No, Eisenhower dimes, she replied.

There is no such thing, I said. The Roosevelt dime started in 1946 and they are still making them. There are no Eisenhower dimes.

On to paper money. Only I did not know we had moved on to paper money.

I have some silver dollars, she said.

I thought we were back to the 15 that opened the conversation. That was not the case. She was talking folding money.

You can’t redeem them anymore, can you, she stated as a fact that her father had told her.

Not since June 24, 1968, I replied helpfully. (Yes, I remember the date. It was big at the time.)

What about gold?

Gold Certificates, I asked? They haven’t been redeemable since 1933.


It was a friendly and interesting conversation. I hope she derived something useful from it.

My take on it was how unknown the jargon of coin collecting is for noncollectors.

Also, tidbits of information are passed down, but they are incomplete or misremembered.

She will do fine with her coins.

She said she might even pass them along to others in the family. That’s a good idea, I agreed.

But first she will have a meeting with the other coin collector.

Who is it?

Clifford Mishler, retired CEO of this company and my former boss.

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