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Quick, Matt!

Need an answer ASAP! My wife wants to start buying those sets of china dog figurines sold by the Franklin Mint. You see the ads in Parade magazine. Are they worth anything? Does the Franklin Mint have anything to do with the U.S. government?

-- Frantic Frank, San Diego

Hah. All those china puppies and Civil War chess sets are created to be worth whatever someone is willing to pay for them. They have no intrinsic artistic or historic or materials value. They're kinda like baseball cards or the old Pog craze. Once people decide they don't want to buy what you're selling, then all you've got is a house full of worthless dust catchers. And you might say the U.S. government is to the Franklin Mint what the World Bank is to the dinner mint.

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