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'Gift' not just a four-letter word

As far as the U.S. Mint is concerned, the holiday shopping season began yesterday.

At least that is what I infer from my receipt of its Holiday Gift Guide in my email.

As far as timing is concerned, the Mint is mainstream.

I was in Wal-mart on Saturday morning and the cashier was wearing an elf cap.

When I complimented her on it, she said she had just gotten it the day before.

Of course, the Mint, Wal-mart and other retailers hope we all will spend, spend, spend.

The Mint’s gift guide prominently features the two 2016 commemorative coin series.

If you know someone who is fond of the works of Mark Twain, a gold $5 or silver dollar honoring the classic American author just might be the perfect present.

A lover of the great outdoors might be a prime candidate for one of the coins celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

There is a $5 gold piece, a silver dollar and a clad half dollar.

If you consider both the proof and uncirculated versions, you have six coins to choose from.

Gifts are probably the last hope for either commemorative program to move the sales numbers much higher.

Collectors have had most of the year to make up their minds. If they have not purchased them by now, the only added inducement might come in December when a last look at sales numbers might reveal one that is extremely low – implying future profits if you buy it.

For something current, the Mint’s catalog takes the viewer to a page on which appears the uncirculated mintmarked silver American Eagle celebrating the 30th anniversary of the program.

It has a lettered edge rather than the standard reeding as appears on the regular issue 2016 bullion silver Eagle. But it will not be available until Dec. 1.

That should be no problem as in recent years the Mint has excelled in swift delivery times.

For me this year, the best part of the gift guide is the portion devoted to medals.

Medals do not get enough attention.

I am as guilty as the next collector at relegating them to second class status compared to coins.

The old Life cereal commercial seems an appropriate mention here.

Everybody in it wanted to let Mikey try the new cereal first.

Well, with medals, a gift of a medal to Mikey might just lead to greater numbers of collectors if he likes it.

The medals offered have attractive artwork and honor incredible people, from veterans to Mother Teresa.