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"Great Coins" vs "Bad Coins" - a Neophyte Definition

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The Neophyte Numismatist

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I have stated to fellow coin collectors and on the forums that I never want to buy a "bad" coin.  I have even gone so far as to say I try my best to buy "great" coins.  But, I failed to define "bad" or "great".  This has lead to some collecting friends being a little hurt (my word not theirs), as I assume that they look upon the "bad" coin that I am considering buying to be a nicer example than the one held in their collection.  My true feelings about coins: There are no bad coins, only bad holders.  

Example:

A chocolate brown half cent in MS65BN is a trophy for nearly any collector.  However, the same coin becomes a "bad coin" if it is in a 67+RD holder.  At this grade, the coin becomes a bad deal.  The premium is significant for the holder, and the grade will come under serious scrutiny when it comes time to sell.  An MS63 that looks-to-grade MS65 is a "MUCH better" coin from an economic perspective.  It's a better coin at a better price, simple.

In the end... I will either look at my coin a say "Wow" or I will say "Darn".  Had I bought that 67+RD coin, I would feel a mild tinge of regret every time I looked at it.  I would know I was holding a misrepresented coin, and paid-up to do it.  That would be a mistake in my collecting strategy, and that makes the 67+RD a "bad" coin for me.

Here is what I do NOT mean when I say great or bad:

  • I do not mean that the over-graded coin that I am considering makes one's circulated example worse.  A bad MS64 will have zero impact on a "great" VF35. 
  • I am not trying to compare MS and Circulated examples of a coin as bad/good.  They are completely different animals in my mind
  • I do not mean that coins have to be in "Top Registry Sets" to be great coins.  A type set in P01 would be very interesting, challenging and affordable.

To sum it all up... to me a great coin is the "right" coin that fits into the theme/grade/aesthetic/budget of my collection.  Everyone is entitled to their own definition of greatness based on his/her own criteria for their collection.  In the end... we look at our collections and say "wow" or "darn" based on that definition.  

I apologize to anyone I have offended in my opinions regarding "great" vs "bad" coins. 

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Then there are the coins I originally regretted buying but over time began to grow on me like this olive toned Large-Cent. I no longer consider this 1851 MS-63 brown large cent an upgrade candidate. Incidentally, my friend who doesn't like ANY red showing through the toning on large cents does not like the reverse of this coin. Neither do I, I find the reverse of this coin has a rather dull look. That said, I am keeping this coin for the olive toning on the obverse. I also think the struck through grease on Liberty's truncated neck is interesting. As to bad or good, I only criticize my own coins and let others make their own determinations.

1851_large_cent_obv_B.jpg

1851_large_cent_rev_B.jpg

Edited by coinsbygary
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@coinsbygary In your opinion, what is the downside to the red on the reverse of the coin?  The coin has a BN designation, so presumably you get the remnants of original red without the premium.  I fully understand not wanting to buy RD (or even RB) examples due to the premium and risk associated with browning. Likewise some of those early copper coins with RD designations have been brightened or recolored.  

But, when it's already BN... what's the harm in a little natural red peeking through?  When it fades - it grades!  Or, are you simply stating that a brown coin is completely stable, and should have few visual surprises... whereas a red coin can fade/tone in a non-uniform or otherwise unattractive way?

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On 3/9/2022 at 5:09 PM, The Neophyte Numismatist said:

@coinsbygary In your opinion, what is the downside to the red on the reverse of the coin?  The coin has a BN designation, so presumably you get the remnants of original red without the premium.  I fully understand not wanting to buy RD (or even RB) examples due to the premium and risk associated with browning. Likewise some of those early copper coins with RD designations have been brightened or recolored.  

But, when it's already BN... what's the harm in a little natural red peeking through?  When it fades - it grades!  Or, are you simply stating that a brown coin is completely stable, and should have few visual surprises... whereas a red coin can fade/tone in a non-uniform or otherwise unattractive way?

Numismatically speaking there is no downside. There is no harm in a little red peeking through. It's only my personal taste in eye-appeal that at the time of purchase, I didn't fully consider to fill a hole in my type set. I can't count the times I made a rash purchase only to spy out a nicer looking coin a few days later. When I bought the 1835 half-cent, my search was over. I've never looked back. I chose the right coin the first time. Over time, I've learned my lesson and now I'm more likely to get the good coin the first time. Now I more fully understand your good coin, bad coin argument. A brown coin in a holder will always be brown and maybe grade higher. A red coin in a holder is not guaranteed and will over time tone inside the holder costing the purchaser a good resale price. You're also correct about the brown coin being more stable, what you see is what you get. There's something to be said for that.

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On 3/9/2022 at 9:37 AM, Revenant said:

I think a type set in PR01 could be pretty awesome and cool in its own way, but coins that bad are only graded when the coin is super rare and valuable....

Modern issues... lke Dollars, SBA, Kennedy Half Dollars fetch extreme premiums in P01.  The asking prices boggle the mind.  All you need is a pocket and time.

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