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A Year in the Life of a Seated Dollar (in pics)

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(I posted this thread on another coin board and would like to share this story with you too) Earlier this year, I renewed my interest in this great hobby after being away since a child. One of my first objectives was to find and buy a seated dollar since I liked large coins, the series had low mintages, and I loved the eagle on the back. So, off I went in February with a mentor to my first coin show in:




Ah a wonder to behold - around 300 dealers and I searched the bourse carefully seeing many examples. Even to my untrained eye I could tell that many for sale were harshly cleaned. One dealer that I asked who did not have one said “Oh, those are going for moon money” which was kinda cool since I’d never heard that term before! Alas, I found one from a dealer from Iowa. It was calling to me and I found it irresistible. I had my mentor examine it and, after telling me it had an old cleaning, he helped me negotiate a price for XF money. I had no illusions that it would grade, nor did I care then. Here are pics of the coin:




Scratch on reverse shield is on the plastic:




I posted about the coin here and asked for opinions about the grade. Lots of varied opinions were offered, after all, it is a challenge to grade from pictures. I remember MikeinFla was especially instructive as to pointing out the insufficient luster on the coin which hurt its chance for a higher grade.


As I gained more knowledge about the hobby and watched CDN prices rise for my acquisition, I decided that I’d try to see if I could get it certified. So, when I attended the Central States show in Chicago in April, I went to see:




Certainly, this well known guru would give me insights on my coin and its chances with NGC. After taking a moment of his time to kindly review, David Lange said that he felt the coin was an AU and would likely certify with his company (of course, there are no guarantees). Thus, I was excited by this possibility since getting the coin in a slab would enhance its future salability – not important to some, but it was to me.


In August, I had my mentor send it in to NGC for certification. The coin was reviewed and I received this back in the mail:




I was depressed, but I still liked my wonderful dollar with only 140,750 minted. After all, just because NGC didn’t feel the love didn’t mean I needed to abandon my appreciation for this lovely lady. So, I dropped the issue of having it slabbed.


Time passed and as I read the various coin boards regularly, I became familiar with the excellent reputation of Mark Feld (you guys obviously know who he is), an internet dealer out of San Diego:





In November, I asked him to send to PCGS on my behalf and I sent my dollar to him for review. He was dubious it would slab, but if so, he felt it would grade at AU. There was a chance it would end up in a “Genuine” holder. He generously took the coin with him to the Baltimore show to get the opinion of other dealers. They suggested it was XF and to send it in to PCGS and so Mark did.


In December, the coin was returned to me as this:




Yeehaw! My objective was realized and I am glad it made it into their plastic, especially with an AU grade. So, the lesson for me was that just because a certification service body bags a coin doesn’t mean it will never certify. Perhaps this example helps disprove the myth that PCGS is the tougher slabber than NGC?


So, my Seated Dollar has had quite a journey in 2008. From an Iowa dealer to be sold at a St. Louis, MO show to my home in Indiana to then be reviewed in Chicago, IL and sent to NGC in Florida, back to Indiana, and lastly to both a CA dealer (with a stop in Baltimore) and PCGS in CA before coming home for XMAS to Boiler nation! (got to insert that Purdue reference)


I wonder if she received her frequent flyer points?

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After all, just because NGC didn’t feel the love didn’t mean I needed to abandon my appreciation for this lovely lady.




Great story and a great post! I love your style and humor! Welcome to the boards, you lucky dog! You are a wise man or just down right lucky to have a mentor so early in your return to the hobby! This was a great lesson for you. I returned to the hobby in 2002 and got burned on a lot of transactions the first year. This coin was a great lesson for you!


In my personal experience, PCGS lightened up on their standards a bit starting this December. I was murdered on my submissions last month but was pleasantly blessed with the batch that was graded this month.


I agree with NGC's decision so you better not ever crack that coin out of its holder. Never get into that habbit. I learned the hard way in the tune of thousands of dollars.


I certainly hope to see you around these parts more often. I know that you will have lots to contribute and lots to learn, as well!


Welcome back to the hobby and to the boards!



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Looks like an AU50.


As I've often said before, coins that appear PQ to collectors are often just silently net graded for a problem the collector may not have enough experience to recognize.


Not saying that's the case with your experience, just saying that gently cleaned coins are silently net graded all the time.

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Good thread, Dan. (thumbs u As I noted in a couple of posts on the Cointalk forum where you also posted this:


...Dan, I must take issue with your characterization of me as a "vest pocket dealer" (see definition below). :cry: I'd like to think of myself as a well established, full time dealer.


"vest pocket dealer

A part-time coin merchant. The term originated with those individuals who roamed the bourse floor ready to whip out of their vests a small plastic coin binder containing coins in two-by-two cardboard holders."



Regarding the coin which is the subject of this thread - I believe that it is a solid AU coin which has been lightly cleaned. I thought that the cleaning was noticeable enough so that it could body-bag, but that if it graded, it would do so as an AU. If I remember correctly, one of them thought it would body-bag and another thought it would grade, but as XF.


What many people fail to appreciate is that often, the decision as to whether to body-bag a coin (due to a problem such as cleaning/wiping, etc.) can be as or more difficult than the decision regarding what numerical grade to assign. It is a judgment call and is inherently subjective and can be inconsistent in nature. Therefore, it is not surprising to me that NGC body-bagged it and PCGS graded it - things could just as easily have turned out differently in each case.

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Great story that illustrates both the inconsistency of professional coin grading, as well as the notion that the only important opinion when it comes to your collection is your own!


Graders spend LITTLE time on MOST coins, and one should never let that opinion count against your personal preferences. I wish I could actually follow that advice, myself... :insane:

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I remember this Seated Liberty and went back to your first post and found where I did make this comment:


~One aspect we cannot do with images is to rotate the coin in a light source to examine for any color changes/dull areas that would be located directly on any of the high spots.~


With the images as they appear now in the PCGS holder, those rubs can now be seen and I thought the graders were very generous to anoint this dollar with an AU-50




Thanks for sharing.

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Great story, Dan. Welcome back to our hobby and most certainly welcome to the forum. That is one of my favorite coins and a fine specimen.

One point I would like to make-we constantly use the term "inconsistent grading" when speaking of comparing TPG's and their "techniques" utilized to grade our coins. This is unfair to all the TPG's when there is not an accepted guide to follow for even numerical grades, much less for cleanings, corrosion, whizzing, dipping, coloring, heating and the hundred other attempts by some to better a coin's look in order to sell at a higher grade. Each grader must use their own opinions as their reference and being held over their head like the "Sword of Damocles" is the constant threat of lawsuits for loss via guarantees and warrantees. I think we sometimes expect far too much from these folks for the price paid per coin and perhaps if they charged for value rather than per coin that would lessen. JMO.



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I once had an 1839-O half dollar that had been dipped white that NGC body bagged for "improperly cleaned." I sent it PCGS and they graded it AU-50, as it should have been in the first place. On the other hand I had a very pretty 1858 Flying Eagle cent that PCGS body bagged for "questionable toning." NGC graded MS-64 as it should have been graded.


I see coins that make me wonder how they got into the holder they are in. I see other coins that get body bagged for not good reason. There is no rhyme or reason to some of this stuff.

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Hey Dan,


Great post...Since I am new like yourself I figured this a good time to introduce myself to you and everyone else on here. I fairly recently became a member of NGC and I've been lurking on the forum for a while in my spare time at work but would like to become a more frequent poster as I enjoy recieving and giving advice. So nice to meet you and everyone else on the forum!



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Thank you Brandon and thanks to all for your comments/compliments. Very nice of you to provide feedback.


By the way, I am not a new member to this board since I joined in March of this year. I just don't post much. I am, however, relatively new to returning to this hobby and still believe I have much to learn for many years to come from all of you.

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