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Basic coin grading tips - part ll

6 posts in this topic

For those of you who did not see part one of this discussion, here is a link:








Now it's time to discuss examining/viewing coins properly.


First, make sure you don't have your pet dog, cat (or snake) anywhere near where you will be studying your treasures.The same goes for babies and significant others - this is serious business and you need to be able to concentrate!


Lighting has already been discussed but I did neglect to mention that blinds or shades should be drawn so that your light source is not interfered with by any outside light.


If you have coins that are uncertified and completely out of any type of holder, I'd recommend that you have something soft and yielding (a towel, a felt tray, etc.) underneath where you will be holding the coins, in case you drop one (or two). The best/sharpest coin graders are not necessarily the most sure-handed!


I do recommend that you remove uncertified coins from their 2x2's, etc., to get a proper look - even the thinnest layer of plastic can mask flaws and prevent you from getting the view that you should.


Be conscious of how easy it is to put fingerprints on your beauties. I have seen a lot of people start off by holding coins at their edges, but gradually lose concentration and allow their long and or fat fingers to move from the edge to the surface of the coin.


To get the best possible look at a coin it is imperative that you tilt and gradually rotate it so that the light bounces off of it from as many angles as possible. A coin can look completely different, if looked at head-on, vs. from an angle. Light reflects differently and colors and luster can look different, as well. You might see hairlines, cleaning, wipes or other problems from one angle that you wont see from another angle. Look at a coin from all angles, top to bottom, right side up, sideways and upside down, etc. This is a simple concept but you'd be surprised at the number of people who don't do it right.


I know some graders who start off looking at the reverses of coins first just to get a different perspective. I know others who begin, looking at coins sideways instead of up and down, for the same reason. I don't usually do those things but it's probably a good idea to try it once in a while, just for a change in your routine.


When you take your first look at a coin, do so without a glass/magnifier. Eyeball it for a few seconds on each side to get a general first impression - to see how it hits you. Don't worry, initially, about looking for flaws and problems - get a feel for the big picture and the eye-appeal or lack thereof.


I cannot over-emphasize the fact, that in many cases, the first, split second look of a coin is extremely important. It will either grab your attention or not. If it doesn't, it might not be so special and it might not impress the next viewer, either. If it is special looking and grabs your attention right away, it very well might have the same effect on the next person. Many buying decisions regarding many valuable coins are made in a matter of seconds, based on that all-important first impression.


Look at the focal points - the main design elements (the cheek on a Morgan dollar, Ms. Liberty on a Walking Liberty Half dollar, the Indian on Indian gold coinage, etc.) If you have questions about the most important areas for grading for a given type of coin, please feel free to ask.


Next, look at the other areas, toward the borders. As you are doing this, you should be slowly and gradually rotating the coin and tilting it back and forth (as mentioned previously) at the same time - try to get the light to reflect off of the surface from as many angles as possible.


Now, for those of you who are dying to do so, it is ok to pick up your magnifiers - go for it, but don't forget about how the coin first struck you, when you looked with your naked eye.


I'm not exactly sure what I will do in part lll and am open to some suggestions (I can't promise that I will be able to address what is requested but will try). I can tell you, that, while I know a number of people would like images and a discussion of cleaning (among other things), I don't have such pictures and, quite frankly, things like that are much better taught in person, face to face. My apologies that I can't help in that fashion. But, please feel free to ask questions, make comments, etc.


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thanks again for the great info!!


I have a story about holders keeping you from seeing the details.


I bought a Morgan at a show, it was in a 2x2. From what I could see, it was an easy MS63 maybe a 64! I looked at all different angles and was happy with the coin and price so I bought it. I set it aside and didnt open it for a while. When I was getting the coins ready to go in for grading I opened it up. It wasnt just in a 2x2! the seller put the coin in a flip, then the flip into the 2x2 with plenty of staples so you couldnt tell. Lets say, he knew how to hide a flaw! Once I got the coin out of its confines, my heart sank frown.gif This coin, with perfect cheek and almost mark free fields had a nasty long rim ding, about half an inch long! frown.gif The packaging the dealer did hid this perfectly! I had even used a loop on it when in the packaging and didnt see the ding! Needless to say, i wont be buying from that guy again, and I learned a valuable lesson that day! graded out at EF damaged frown.gif

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oh, and for the next installment. How about the things to look for on different series? I have been having a hard time grading roosevelt dimes, I am so used to looking at that big ole cheek on morgans, the entire coin is smaller than that! Maybe a listing of the usual contact or mark spots on common coins, that would be cool and usefull! Especially when looking at a new series or a cool coin at a show or shop you dont normally collect. smile.gif

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excellent part two thread mark!


especially,so the first impression for a few seconds when

you taKE A FIRST LOOK!!!!!!!!!! this makess it or breaks it for me....


if i do not like the coin at first glance for the overall eye appeal or have any hesitation, again

at first glance with just my eyes then i pass!


maybe you can in the third part tell how to look at the edge rims of the coin better to catch repair, scratches, dings an edge cut/ mount removial especially so with gold! as many i have talked to miss this many many times when buying a coin!


when it comes to pre 1834 gold if not certified i always take the coin out of its holder and examine with a 20x glass the reeding completely! i have caught many edge descrepencies...........lol

so to speak


maybe there is an easier way? to first examine a coin by a systematic approach so you cover all the bases so to speak?


i like the fact how you said to tilt the coin all around to see it at many different angles i have found you catch many things that are otherwise invisable but still there and stick out like a sore thumb but looking at the coin in another angle you do not even see it!


mark that was a great thread and i hope you might be able to makr this an ongoning part 3 4 5 6 7 .....


and msybe look at different coin series of where to look for problems...ie the way the mint made the coins that knock it down a grade? or with other series maybe where the problem areas are for nicks scratches that knock a coin down in grade

or a series of coins that usually are tampered with/cleaned in some way to enhance their marketibility after they leave the mint and telltail signs that you might look for in a particiular series?


thanks!!!!!!!!!! mark quite a service and you put it into words really well! maybe an on going thing on the boarda and then published in a book ! i think it would be a really great learning tool and serivce to many as i think if more collectors practised what you said in part one and 2 so far would even now make better decsisons about the coins they are looking at! and now see things they are missing!! that show up after the fact after the coin is brought home



that was an awesome thread and i bet you will help many look at coins and especially so coins in the series they like and will help them make better informed choices and maybe save them some time and especially so from buying coins they really should be passing on!!!



sincerely michael


sincerely michael

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There have been a number of questions raised and points discussed in the original thread that I have linked here - hopefully there will be some additional helpful information contained therein.

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