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Deep Holiday Pockets Needed for New Gold Coin

Perhaps because of evergreen and holly, green and red are the two colors traditionally associated with the holidays. We see that in decorations and wrapping paper. Bows on packages suggest two other contemporary holiday colors: silver and gold.

The latter two may seem a tad crass, but considering gold was a gift of the Magi, I don't see why it shouldn't be a part of Christmas today. And silver's a good second. Today, both silver and gold are way more expensive than they were 2,000 years ago, or even a year or two ago.

I have an annual tradition of including a ridiculously lavish option among my gift suggestions leading up to the holidays. Well, today's the day for that little stocking stuffer.

In this day of $1,300 or $1,400 per ounce for gold, most people are lucky to own a ring, bracelet or a small coin or two. Of course, a select others live by the "go big or go home philosophy." One new coin not only fits that to a tee, but it will also appeal to some who revel in owning a true rarity.

Last week, the Monnaie de Paris (the Mint in France) announced the creation of a pure gold coin that, for all intent, has nothing to do with the country; it is an icon in India. The coin features a magnificent image of the Taj Mahal — long regarded as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Considering it's now almost 400 years old, it's also one of the best-preserved buildings.

With a cameo proof finish, the gem coin is an instant rarity because it has a ridiculously low mintage of just 29. It also weighs in at a hefty one kilo (just over 32 Troy ounces.) That's a large and heavy mass of pure gold with a melt value today of over $43,000. But that's not the price. For just one of the 29 rarities, you'll need to buck up 100,000 euros, or almost $137,000.

Why the 300 percent markup you ask? In addition to the rarity and weight, there's an extra addition. On the coin, the dome of the Taj Mahal is covered with 68 diamonds hand-set by Cartier. To top it off, prestigious luggage manufacturer Goyard created the custom leather presentation chest.

Should you be recession-proof or if you recently won a lottery, you can get more information by calling 800-472-6327 or logging onto www.PandaAmerica.com. Jingle bells.

Now for the flip side. With silver selling for around $25 an ounce, a shiny American eagle silver coin or a silver bar would definitely be a nice gift for a friend or family member. But caveat emptor is the current watchwords considering a "silver" bar recently shown to me by a coin dealer.

The small bar measuring roughly 1 inch by 2 inches looks just like the familiar 1-ounce silver bars regularly traded and sold. It even includes the wording, ".999 Silver." But beware: Above that, it states it contains "15 grains" of ".999 Silver." That's virtually next to nothing.

The bars — probably containing mostly nickel, copper and steel — have just three one-hundredths of an ounce of silver mixed in or layered on the surface. If you could extract that silver from the bar (you can't), it would have a value of just 75 cents at today's prices.

Because of their size, shape and appearance, it's a safe bet many would be fooled into assuming it was a true bar of pure silver and would willingly pay $25 or $30. Please don't. It would be a quick way to spoil the holidays.

Instead, pay a visit to a local coin dealer for a real one or purchase from a mail order source that offers a guarantee. It will prevent future headaches and assure a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah.


To find out more about Peter Rexford and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


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