With the second coming of freelancer third-party documentation, many mint buyers and sellers thought all their grade worries were over .
nobelium long would they have to scrutinize each coin they bought and sold to determine its charge of preservation. No longer would they need to refer themselves with grading pointers, grading tips, grading advice–these mattered now lone to the experts at the leading documentation services .
From now on, all Mint State-65 coins would be created equal, ampere long as they got those grades from the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America (NGC) or ANACS.
In short, buyers and sellers no long would need to think for themselves and exercise their own park sense. This is not wholly true .
Certification services have made–and are continuing to make–tremendous contributions to standardizing and stabilizing coin-grading standards. In the process, they have dramatically reduced the gamble that buyers might suffer significant fiscal loss because they purchased coins that were over-graded .
But authentication services aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate infallible. And though they strive mightily for consistency, they–like the coins they grade–inevitably fall short of full perfection. Some coins graded Mint State-65 by PCGS, NGC or ANACS are indeed better than others ; some might even qualify as Mint State-66. Others, by contrast, might get a lower grade if broken out of their holders and resubmitted .
Over a period of time, subtle shifts in standards or in their application can result in the being of whole groups of coins that are under-graded or over-graded relative to the rest of the coins from a given rate overhaul .
For example, in 1994, David Hall, founder and president of the united states of PCGS acknowledged that during its early years, his company was reluctant to assign the degree of Mint State- or Proof-68. He honestly agreed that a act of the coins graded Mint State- or Proof-67 by PCGS during that early period might well receive a grade of 68 if submitted nowadays. And that could increase their current market value by many thousands of dollars .
just because a coin is in a holder and barely because that holder carries a grade assigned by a documentation serve, there ’ s no reason why you–as a buyer or seller–can ’ metric ton and shouldn ’ triiodothyronine feed back that coin to your own personal grading overhaul … your own common sense and your own shop of cognition … and render an technical judgment of your own .
Knowledge is more than office ; in the case of rare coins, it besides can mean enormous net income .
With that in mind, here ’ randomness my personal list of the top 10 coin-grading tips of all time :
(1) Check the high points for wear.
even if a rate serve certifies a coin as Mint State-63, that doesn ’ thyroxine bastardly it won ’ t come back with a lower grade–possibly evening AU-58–if you resubmit it. A coin should stand on its own merits ; you should buy it for itself and not for the credit card .
look at the identical highest points of the coin. If they ’ rhenium idle in color than the rest of the coin, or if you see friction, the coin may not be mint-state ; it may be about uncirculated .
Telltale signs of wear are indicated by the tinge of the high points. On coins made of copper, the high points after clash are black brown. On coins made of nickel, the high- point color after friction is dark grey. On coins made of silver, the color is pall gray. And on coins made of gold, the high-point color after clash is boring, dark gold .
(2) If it’s ugly, don’t buy it.
Use your common sense. Blotchy tone, obvious scratches and spots which penetrate the surface of a mint are unattractive. And if a coin appears unattractive to you, it probably will appear that way to other people, excessively. therefore, you should stay away from it .
even coins with identical senior high school grades–coins which have been certified as 67, 68 or 69 by a major certification service– are subject to personal smack, and you should constantly rely on yours. Rare-coin grading is subjective, and sol is the beauty of coins .
Among the few characteristics which is universally attractive is concentric circle tone. If you observe this on a coin, you should view it as a highly positive feature .
(3) Examine grade-sensitive areas.
Some flaws are more obvious than others. On Morgan silver dollars, for model, a rub on Miss Liberty ’ s boldness is immediately apparent because that separate of the mint is so politic and unfold. By contrast, a abrasion in her hair wouldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate be noticed as promptly because it would be camouflaged by the intricate details in that dowry of the design .
high gear, exposed areas such as Miss Liberty ’ randomness boldness are said to be “ grade-sensitive, ” and you should be more hesitant to purchase any coin with an imperfection there–even though that mint may carry a class of Mint State-65 or Proof-65 or above from PCGS or NGC .
If you have a choice between one coin graded Mint State-66 with a rub on the cheek and another mint in the same grade without that rub on the buttock, constantly opt for the latter. Everything else being equal, it ’ south constantly best to purchase coins whose flaws are in non-grade-sensitive areas .
Grade-sensitive areas for all the major U.S. coin series are identified and illustrated–with color grading maps–in an excellent bible by James L. Halperin called How to Grade U.S. Coins. To underscore my enthusiasm for this book, I wrote its presentation.
(4) Look beneath the toning.
This is credibly the most important indicate of all. It ’ s besides the easiest way to determine whether a coin has artificial tone .
Toning can cover up a multitude of imperfections – scratches, hairlines, tool, thumbing and chemical alteration, to cite merely a few. many times, coins with imperfections are artificially re-toned to conceal these flaws. By examining these coins close under a overstate glass, you can detect not only the hide imperfections but besides the artificial tone .
(5) Examine every coin under a halogen lamp or a high- intensity pinpoint light source.
When looking beneath the tone of a coin or differently searching for imperfections, it ’ s essential that you use the right kind of lighting. I first base pointed this out in an award- succeed article published in neologism in 1979. I subsequently elaborated on this in my best-selling book The Coin Collector’s Survival Manual ™ .
A halogen lamp is specially beneficial when looking at proof coins. It will help you spot hairline scratches, which can detract well from a proof mint ’ s overall rate. A tensor light is adequate for mint-state business-strike coins .
ordinary light sources such as flood lamps or bare filament lights–the kind normally used in chandeliers–make coins appear more attractive than they actually are. For that argue, if you ’ rhenium looking at coins at an auction-lot wake session, you should constantly make certain there ’ randomness a halogen lamp or a tensor light source nearby .
(6) Resubmit upper-end coins–coins which are high-quality for the grade–and coins graded 67 by PCGS.
You stand a sanely good chance of getting a higher grade if you resubmit such coins–especially if you acquired them in 1986 and 1987, when the scaling services were extremely bad in assigning grades .
As I mentioned earlier, David Hall conceeds that some of PCGS coins graded 67 many years ago might well come second today at a higher grade. The difference in price between a 67 and its 68 counterpart can be tens of thousands of dollars–so this could represent a $ 20,000 gift for you, fair for taking the trouble to crack a mint out of its holder and feed back it .
(7) “Read” every coin.
This is a point on which I elaborate in the The Coin Collector’s Survival Manual™. Looking at a mint is similar to proofreading a letter. And individuals who possess reserve cognition combined with virtual experience at buy, selling and deal coins have learned how to look at a coin and size up its flaws rather cursorily, just as technical editors have learned how to scan a manuscript for errors and typographic mistakes .
frequently, a mint ’ s imperfections won ’ metric ton be noticeable at a glance, or even after slightly closer perusal by an unskilled observer. This may happen, for model, when a mint has one feature indeed overwhelmingly attractive that it causes you to lose spy of everything else. Let ’ s say you ’ re shown a Saint-Gaudens double eagle with blazing aureate shininess ; the shininess may be then intense that it causes you to overlook a bump or a ding on the rim, which in plow might cause the coin to be downgraded .
You should learn how to read all the key information on every coin you handle and by rights identify all the imperfections. Don ’ t be dazzled by any one feature of a coin, no matter how attractive it may be, to the point where you miss crucial details in the “ fine print. ”
(8) Look for hairlines.
A proof coin with overwhelmingly beautiful tone can be powerfully appealing. And, to the naked eye, its surfaces may appear pristine and master. But even on gorgeous proofs such as this, and even on coins in very high grades, you may very well find hairline scratches–and the number of hairline scratches is a very important component in determining the mark of a proof coin .
once again, I suggest that you consult The Coin Collector ’ s Survival Manual™. The koran contains excellent photograph illustrating hairlines on a proof coin. These photos, which noted numismatic research worker and author Kenneth E. Bressett was kind enough to provide to me, are the best of their kind I ’ ve ever seen .
Spotting hairline scratches is easier on brilliant modern proofs–proof Mercury dimes, for exercise. It ’ south slightly more unmanageable on older coins with heavier toning – say, Liberty Seated half dollars from the 1880s with concentric-circle tone. On coins such as these, the tone may cover the scratches .
(9) Beware of the rub.
Checking for wear on the high points of a mint is relatively easy–and that ’ s a beneficial thing, since wear, after all, is the single most crucial component in determining grad. Detecting rub on a mint is well more unmanageable, for rub is far more subtle. It ’ second besides far more hazardous to the health of that coin .
As the term suggests, a “ rub ” is a minor area on a coin–possibly no bigger than a thumbprint ( and possibly caused by a thumbprint ) –that bears evidence of friction, showing that the mint has been rubbed. The effect of such a rub can be devastating. Suppose you had a jewel, pristine, brilliant coin, blazing with luster, and good one time a perspiration- overcharge hitchhike rubbed ever therefore slenderly across its coat. even if the coin otherwise might have been graded 65, 66 or 67, that rub could knock it all the way down to AU-58 .
To identify rub, you need a good, solid tensor or pinpoint-light reservoir, and you have to tilt and rotate the coin under that light. You then need to envision a pencil- reap r-2 in full formed. If the mint reflects light in a amply round pattern, it ’ randomness probably mint-state. But if it reflects ignite in a generally circular pattern but the form is disturbed in any way, then the mint may have a hang-up. Using the same doctrine of analogy, that pencil-drawn encircle would have equitable a couple of segments erased. The Coin Collector ’ s Survival Manual™ illustrates this with excellent photograph .
(10) Remember that grading standards have changed since the early 1980s.
A bunch of people inactive own coins which they purchased in the early 1980s and which were graded at that time by reputable dealers or by the ANA Certification Service. But many of these people tend to forget–or never even knew–that grading standards have tightened since then and become more reproducible .
even coins purchased from reputable dealers in 1981, 1982 and 1983 may not meet the rigorous, coherent, unprejudiced standards established in the late 1980s and being observed today by NGC, PCGS and ANACS.
There you have them : my 10 acme coin-grading tips. They may not make you fat, but they ’ ll go a farseeing way toward helping you avoid losing your shirt !
COPYRIGHT © BY SCOTT A. TRAVERS
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