Q: How do I find value of my complete set of “100 Great Events of the 20th Century?” There are 100 coins plus their display box.
A: Our reader does not tell us who made the set, but I assume that it was a product by the Franklin Mint. Widely known in the world of created collectibles, the FM has created memorabilia sets ranging from auto emblems to presidents, flags of countries, royalty, ocean liners, you name it.
Franklin Mint sets were small ingots, not coins. Some call them bar coins. In this case, the ingots are 24K gold plated over sterling.
Serious numismatists dismiss Franklin Mint products. As plated materials, their intrinsic value is minimal to zero. As history, they’re not worth a second look. But to be fair, there is a secondary market among collectors. It’s nowhere near what FM claims, but it exists.
The Franklin Mint site describes the set of ingots as commemoratives “as selected by famed journalist, author, and explorer Lowell Thomas.” The site describes rarity as “rarely seen,” adding that the set was issued 1977-1985 at an issue price of $29.50 each or $2,950 the set. More than 3,000 sets were minted.
When FM and home shopping networks hawk coin sets, they push the idea that their offerings are unique and likely to rise in value. Sometimes they do and often they don’t. Everything hinges on finding an interested buyer.
Our reader asked how to find today’s value. Here’s how we did it: Thinking that a likely place to find the item was online, we keyed eBay but found no current listings and no completed sales. So we went to worthpoint.com, a database that includes years of eBay results. There we saw that a complete set with original box sold in 2010 for $2,336. The same year, a FM set of 50 silver ingots featuring cruise ships sold for $3,180; in the posting, the seller stressed “low mintage,” i.e. rarity.
Worthpoint.com is a for-pay site, but limited use can be bought. With potential results like that, it pays to pay for current information.
Q: How should I go about selling my Lalique? Both are retired pieces.
A: The reader gave us dimensions but no other info or images. He writes that one piece is a cockatoo, the other a dove. We have to guess exactly what versions he has.
The lack becomes acute when it comes to the dove. Yes, contemporary pieces from the company, founded in 1890 when jeweler Rene Lalique opened his first shop in Paris, include doves in Lalique’s signature frosted crystal. But they include doves of all sizes as perfume bottle stoppers, paperweights, double dove figures, a ring tray, vases, etc.
On liveauctioneers.com, a free database/resource, we found a late 20th C. clear crystal Lalique dove sold for $350-$600 (all results listed in this response are 2013). The reader needs to check the site to find a dove that matches his.
The cockatoo was easier: Worthpoint.com showed examples sold on eBay for $1,060-$2,250.
Where to sell depends on your comfort level for selling online. Online auction reaches a worldwide audience, but you handle all details. List for a price you can live with and hope for the best. Check out selling costs before.
A good auction that handles better decorative arts also offers the merchandise online but handles the responsibilities of selling. Yes, there are costs.