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Step right up and put your money down

Price guides are an essential part of numismatics. I don’t know what I would have done without my 1965 Red Book, or my Telequotes in Numismatic News as I got started in the hobby.

I imagine most collectors feel the same way.

But what should be done about the proliferation of privately produced numismatic products?

These range from colorized state quarters to sets of U.S. coins packaged in a specific way to be marketed to what largely seem to be non-collector audiences.

I had a phone call from a fellow this week who bought a set of three Bicentennial coins that were combined with autographs of the artists who designed the quarter, half dollar and dollar coins.

He wanted to know where he could find out what they were worth.

He was disappointed when I told him they were not government sets and were privately produced.

The long pause on the other end of the line seemed to say “and your point is?”

 I explained that our price guides and the guides that I see elsewhere are pretty standardized with the government-issue qualification.

Anybody can buy U.S. coins in the secondary market, design some attractive packaging and remarket the coins as a new product.

But when the time comes to sell these, what are they worth?

I told the man that the underlying value of the coins would most likely determine the value.

He retorted that President Ford had been selling them.

I could not tell him that in this instance the late President had no known numismatic judgment.

To conclude I finally had to say that I had no additional information to supply and I wished him luck.