Coin Grading Examples
2 2

38 posts in this topic

I thought I would take a shot at roughly grading three raw coins I saw for sale (e.g. VG, F, VF etc. without a number modifier) and then seeing what more experienced members here think.  The goal is to eventually become more comfortable looking at raw coins and figuring out grades to look up values for making people offers at coin shows, online bids, etc.  So let me take a shot at the 3 coins below to start off.

(1) For the first one (top/left) I would say it's VG.  Pretty worn with flat features (face/hair and eagle), but all the main features still visible. Rim is full but very worn, and almost flat in a few spots (bot rev).  Seller claims it's XF which I'm not buying for a nickel ;-)

(2) For the second one (middle) I would say it's VF.  Light even wear across entire obv and rev high points, but all the letters/features still sharp (e.g. rim worn, but flutes/ribs still all visible).

(3) For the last one (bot/right) I would say it's XF.  More than just minor wear/marks in the fields of the coin.  Light overall wear at the high points, but with all the details still sharp/clear (e.g. rim, letters, face/hair).

Okay, so what do others think.

01 1904-S Morgan Dollar $315 Juannier.jpg

02 1904-S Morgan $230 fairviewcoins.jpg

03 1904-S Morgan $350 fairviewcoins.jpg

Edited by EagleRJO
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1)  I would consider this a liner VG10 F12 coin, I would not be surprised to see some sellers call it VF20.

2)  This is a spot on VF30, but another coin that you might see touted as XF40 by some sellers.

3)  I agree at XF40, but would not be surprised to see an asking price close AU50 as there appears to be some luster and this date/mm is tougher in AU vs lower circulated grades.

Keep in mind that todays market grading also takes the strike quality of a particular mint and date into account, so there can be some allowance given to those known to have poor strikes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/15/2022 at 1:21 PM, Coinbuf said:

3)  I agree at XF40, but would not be surprised to see an asking price close AU50 as there appears to be some luster and this date/mm is tougher in AU vs lower circulated grades.

Not anywhere close to a legitimate AU coin. Bottom-end EF or upper-VF.

#1 is a solid good and #2 is a middle-VF; Anyone trying to con you into paying EF-40 money is probably selling used highway bridges.

Look at the standard grading images in the ANA guide or Brown & Dunn. (Avoid "Photograde" difficult to use and sloppy photos. OK for 1970s, but not now.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, I just can't see the first one (1) being a borderline F12 cause every example for that grade I looked at had all the ribs/flutes of the rim visible even if they were worn down a lot.  The seller must have been on crack thinking that was an XF or that he could price it as such ... lol.  I agree the last one (3) has a little nicer surface/shine than an avg XF, except there is some offsetting general discoloration/tarnish I am seeing on the Rev (appears a little greenish in the photos). 

It is one of the Morgans where they produced a little less at 2M 1904-S coins, vs 3M for 1904-O [picked up a raw AU for $100] and 4M for 1904(P) [picked up a raw BU for $70] so I really wouldn't consider that one a "key date", although the sellers might think so ;-)  They are valued by NGC a little higher at $55 for the VG, $110 for the VF, and $260 for the XF (Red Book has XF at $325).  Some are asking for between $500 and $600 for a TPG graded XF which I think is way too much.

I'm looking at raw AU/BU Morgans in general, or XF as a minimum (except for a few dates like 1893-S), so I was kind of interested in the last one listed for $350 and might offer like $275 to $325.  But I have been finding sellers are not very flexible lately and they just hold on to them.

00 1904-S Morgan Dollar Price Guide - NGC.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/15/2022 at 2:28 PM, RWB said:

#1 is a solid good ... Anyone trying to con you into paying EF-40 money is probably selling used highway bridges.

Look at the standard grading images in the ANA guide or Brown & Dunn. (Avoid "Photograde" difficult to use and sloppy photos. OK for 1970s, but not now.)

I have been looking at the graded examples on the NGC & PCGS sites as examples.  And I agree the guy trying to pass a G off for an XF (at least price wise) previously sold used bridges before watching a few YT vids to become a coin dealer ;-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/15/2022 at 11:28 AM, RWB said:

Not anywhere close to a legitimate AU coin. Bottom-end EF or upper-VF.

#1 is a solid good and #2 is a middle-VF; Anyone trying to con you into paying EF-40 money is probably selling used highway bridges.

Look at the standard grading images in the ANA guide or Brown & Dunn. (Avoid "Photograde" difficult to use and sloppy photos. OK for 1970s, but not now.)

The problem is your idea of grading is ancient and woefully out of touch with the current market and TPG grading.   That is fine for you as you are not a collector and do not buy coins, but your advice is so out of touch that anyone who tries to follow it will never be able to purchase anything, and certainly nothing of quality.   While I would prefer to see a return to technical grading that horse has left the barn and now way across the pasture, there is no going back in time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/15/2022 at 1:21 PM, Coinbuf said:

... Keep in mind that todays market grading also takes the strike quality of a particular mint and date into account, so there can be some allowance given to those known to have poor strikes.

Just curious about that last part, because I think the Philly mint has been known to have some lower quality strikes.  Are the TPG companies less critical of (P) coins?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/15/2022 at 2:51 PM, EagleRJO said:

Just curious about that last part, because I think the Philly mint has been known to have some lower quality strikes.  Are the TPG companies less critical of (P) coins?

What I'm saying is that you cannot apply a single image of a single grade across the entire production of each mint, compare an MS65 1881-S to an MS65 1904-O, the NO mint coin will (most of the time) have a far less impressive strike than the SF coin.   On the NO coin the hair curls over the ear are often found very flat and the eagle's breast feathers the same due to an incomplete strike where the SF one will be razor sharp.   If you were grading these only on a technical scale there is no way that both could receive the same grade, but under market grading the strike is de-prioritized and other factors like luster are given more weight, thus the higher grade for the NO coin which lacks the technicals.   Keep in mind that I'm discussing MS grades here not circulated coinage, once you drop down into the circulated grades the strike quality is less of a factor.   That is not to say that market grading and gradeflation have not impacted the circulated grading, they have.

I am not a fan of the current market grading scheme and would rather see the grading move back to a more technical standard, but it is foolish for an active collector to ignore the realities of the market over a romance with the past.    Market grading and gradeflation are real and anyone who is actively buying or selling needs to be aware.   It's easy for Roger to ignore and rail against the current grading practices because he is not a collector, he has no skin in the game.

If you follow his advice and make offers biased on using guides that are not current with the market, like the ANA guide for grading, chances are that you will be dismissed as a low-baller by some dealers.   Like I said on your other thread you have to take the whole coin into consideration and not get hung up on just one aspect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/15/2022 at 4:07 PM, Coinbuf said:

The problem is your idea of grading is ancient and woefully out of touch with the current market and TPG grading.   That is fine for you as you are not a collector and do not buy coins, but your advice is so out of touch that anyone who tries to follow it will never be able to purchase anything, and certainly nothing of quality.   While I would prefer to see a return to technical grading that horse has left the barn and now way across the pasture, there is no going back in time.

No, my concept of coin grading is consistent and accurate. It presumes established and documented standards and DOES NOT tolerate "grade inflation" or other money-based lies. Whenever I buy a coin (which is uncommon) valuation is based on the coin's real condition and appearance not some BS on a paper label.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/15/2022 at 6:08 PM, RWB said:

No, my concept of coin grading is consistent and accurate. It presumes established and documented standards and DOES NOT tolerate "grade inflation" or other money-based lies. Whenever I buy a coin (which is uncommon) valuation is based on the coin's real condition and appearance not some BS on a paper label.

But virtually EVERYBODY IN THE HOBBY uses the grading that you reject, and vice versa. Roger, you basically ALWAYS GRADE QUITE LOW. Want just one of hundreds of examples? See the thread titled, “First Year Seated Liberty Dollar NEWP”. You are almost always SIGNIFICANTLY low. Buuuut, in your world, only you are correct, and everyone else is wrong. I’ve had it up to here. (Hold your hand up as high as you can,)

Edited by VKurtB
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

I'm afraid I have to side with Kurt on this one. Grading has been evolving for decades, and participating today means understanding current criteria. I have a Brown & Dunn book from 1964, but it's just a relic. Perpetuating obsolete standards is of no value to those who read these forums to learn.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/15/2022 at 7:15 PM, DWLange said:

I'm afraid I have to side with Kurt on this one. Grading has been evolving for decades, and participating today means understanding current criteria. I have a Brown & Dunn book from 1964, but it's just a relic. Perpetuating obsolete standards is of no value to those who read these forums to learn.

Hims is a historian. He caint hep it. Paleo thinking is all he’s got. BTW, Roger’s thinking on XF/AU/MS coins tracks kind of close to British standards, FWIW. 

Edited by VKurtB
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And the definition of "standards" becomes just bologna -- we are then right back into the pre-TPG days of confusion. Only now you pay $50 to be confused and lied to. B&D and the ANA guide are no more obsolete relic than the coins graded with their guidance. The current false grades are promoted by simple, direct greed -- the old disparage and buy cheap; glorify and sell dear.

I decline to accept the purification and lies any more than I would falsification of the historical truth. For all who whine and wring their sweaty palms in agony, there are more who agree but remain silent and do not act.

Edited by RWB
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I  prefer to learn/use modern grading standards and valuations, which is why I use and reference the standards, photo grades and guidelines currently available through PCGS & NGC, as well as the guidelines for each series of coins in the Red Book. Very handy to have guidance specific to the coin in hand (unless your beautiful coin is locked away in a coin coffin, never to be touched again ... lol).

However, a historical understanding of past standards and how that may impact current valuations is extremely useful. For example, I just learned about the PCGS green labels, and know about the GSA CC coins. Not a given that if you buy a green label or GSA that it will grade higher, but just the common belief that it will happen raises prices, so I have been staying away from them.  I don't like coins in slab coffins anyway or sealed GSA coin hiders, so no big deal for me.

In any event, I appreciate everyone's help and guidance. I am going with my first gut reaction to seeing the 3rd coin that' it's an XF and maybe an FX+ and make an offer based on that as well as the NGC and RB values in the range of like $300 to $325 and see how it shakes out.

Edited by EagleRJO
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/15/2022 at 6:51 PM, Coinbuf said:

What I'm saying is that you cannot apply a single image of a single grade across the entire production of each mint, compare an MS65 1881-S to an MS65 1904-O, the NO mint coin will (most of the time) have a far less impressive strike than the SF coin.   On the NO coin the hair curls over the ear are often found very flat and the eagle's breast feathers the same due to an incomplete strike where the SF one will be razor sharp.   If you were grading these only on a technical scale there is no way that both could receive the same grade, but under market grading the strike is de-prioritized and other factors like luster are given more weight, thus the higher grade for the NO coin which lacks the technicals.   Keep in mind that I'm discussing MS grades here not circulated coinage, once you drop down into the circulated grades the strike quality is less of a factor.   That is not to say that market grading and gradeflation have not impacted the circulated grading, they have.

Same thing with some Saints.....weak strikes on some coins like the 1908 No Motto.

Eagle, if you buy certified/graded coins you eliminate the chance of making a big mistake if you start buying coins that are 3 and 4-figures.  CAC adds in price, but also is a check on gradeflation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/15/2022 at 10:31 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

... Eagle, if you buy certified/graded coins you eliminate the chance of making a big mistake if you start buying coins that are 3 and 4-figures.  CAC adds in price, but also is a check on gradeflation.

Thanks, I have pretty much accepted the fate for some of my pricier future coins that they will be locked away in TPG slab coffins, where the value is going to be over like $500 (plus a few will likely be in the thousands, and one Morgan and some others I like may break the bank).  It's just the way it is in terms of not being an expert and needing to protect myself in term of value as well as the risk of fakes at higher price points.  I understand the fakes are getting pretty hard to detect for the average coin collector even with checking dimensions, weight, magmatism, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please do not misunderstand. Standards can and often do change as conditions adapt to innovation or free market circumstances. Absolute stasis is not desirable.

However, changes in standards should be made in a open, public manner with ample opportunity for discussion among interested parties. In coin collecting, grading standards can change, but it must be preceded by clear proposals, hobby discussion, and consensus adoption/use.

 Let’s take an example: the “about uncirculated” grade. Authentication & grading companies have changed this from a single point definition to a numeric range from 50 to 58. An “AU-58” coin is close to the traditional definition; and “AU-55” coin is what was called a “high-end EF;” and an “AU-50” coin now looks a lot like a mid-end EF much like the B&D or ANA illustrations. These changes, and trickle-down effects on other circulated grades, were never proposed to the hobby by TPGs – or anyone else.

 This failure is a significant flaw in both coin grading and in the relationship of TPGs to the rest of the hobby. It is exercise is a de facto assumption of superiority by TPGs that is not, in fact, legitimate or earned. Independent grading was never intended to impose arbitrary pseudo-standards – rather it was implemented to enforce openly approved and recognized hobby standards.

Edited by RWB
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/15/2022 at 4:08 PM, RWB said:

Whenever I buy a coin (which is uncommon) valuation is based on the coin's real condition and appearance not some BS on a paper label.

Thank you for proving my point, you are not a coin buyer so you can hang on and romanticize your idea of grading even though it is woefully antiquated and out of touch with the reality.   Coin buyers have to deal with the here and now, not what was 50 years ago.   You are a wonderful researcher but you should stick to that, you actually do new collectors a disservice when you try and push old out of date information.

Edited by Coinbuf
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/16/2022 at 11:36 AM, Coinbuf said:

Thank you for proving my point, you are not a coin buyer so you can hang on and romanticize your idea of grading even though it is woefully antiquated and out of touch with the reality.   Coin buyers have to deal with the here and now, not what was 50 years ago.   You are a wonderful researcher but you should stick to that, you actually do new collectors a disservice when you try and push old out of date information.

In my opinion, old out of date information is all he has ever been about. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/16/2022 at 12:36 PM, Coinbuf said:

Thank you for proving my point, you are not a coin buyer so you can hang on and romanticize your idea of grading even though it is woefully antiquated and out of touch with the reality.   Coin buyers have to deal with the here and now, not what was 50 years ago.   You are a wonderful researcher but you should stick to that, you actually do new collectors a disservice when you try and push old out of date information.

What a silly and self-serving comment. Change is fine and to be expected. But changes in standards demand input before they are made. That has nto been done, hence the piles of complaints and confusion that are largely unnecessary.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/16/2022 at 11:26 AM, RWB said:

What a silly and self-serving comment. Change is fine and to be expected. But changes in standards demand input before they are made. That has nto been done, hence the piles of complaints and confusion that are largely unnecessary.

Talk about self serving, you cannot accept that the industry and hobby have moved on and accepted the changes that you cannot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/15/2022 at 10:31 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:
  On 7/15/2022 at 6:51 PM, Coinbuf said:

What I'm saying is that you cannot apply a single image of a single grade across the entire production of each mint, compare an MS65 1881-S to an MS65 1904-O, the NO mint coin will (most of the time) have a far less impressive strike than the SF coin.

Coinbuf's comment is accurate only if one accepts the almost complete intermixed corruption of preservation, opinion, and greed [money]. In the currently imposed "market grading" objectivity of preservation (condition) is subjugated to opinions about subjective and personal biases on luster, detail, toning, and other things that are strictly opinion and on which collector agreement is unlikely.

Coin/medal grading can be effective and reliable with community accepted standards for condition, and objective measurement/description of surface condition. ALL of the subjective factors are things which should be left to the value or price negotiation between parties. Thus, there is "Grade" and there is "Value." When the two are mixed, then the structure will always be unstable and value will always be highly variable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/16/2022 at 2:32 PM, Coinbuf said:

Talk about self serving, you cannot accept that the industry and hobby have moved on and accepted the changes that you cannot.

Sure I accept them. They are reality. I have no role in the money part -- which is what is pushing detrimental changes.

However, present reality is also subject to change and we'd all like those changes to be for the better. Rather than Coinbuf and others sticking their heads in the sand and getting a numismatic enema from the "grading companies," consider standing up, thinking for yourself and discussing open standards, open disclosure, clear accurate descriptions and consistent, repeatable "grading." Why all the hobby complaints about "grade inflation?" Is it false? Is it a mirage? No. It's real and measurable -- and it's getting worse.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guys I was looking for feedback as a newer collector related to some raw coins I may buy, not start a debate over grading standards, although I understand it's important to know how grading standards have changed over the years.

Now, what do you guys think about the 3rd coin?  I like the coin which should fit in my AU/BU or XF Min. Morgan collection.  Looks like the final offer is going to be $305 for the XF/XF+ coin which seems reasonable to me for that condition coin in the middle of $260 NGC, $325 RB and $385 Greysheet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good point. We got off-track!

Opinion, #3 is a high end VF - at least that's what I feel it's worth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/16/2022 at 2:54 PM, RWB said:

Good point. We got off-track!

Opinion, #3 is a high end VF - at least that's what I feel it's worth.

I don't think I would ever be able to buy a coin like that priced at high-end VF, and I have been finding most are asking $400 to $500 for similar ones.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's a matter of how each person views value. An experienced, astute collector might look through hundreds of specimens of a certain date/mint before finding the "right one."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/16/2022 at 11:44 AM, RWB said:

Sure I accept them. They are reality. I have no role in the money part -- which is what is pushing detrimental changes.

However, present reality is also subject to change and we'd all like those changes to be for the better. Rather than Coinbuf and others sticking their heads in the sand and getting a numismatic enema from the "grading companies," consider standing up, thinking for yourself and discussing open standards, open disclosure, clear accurate descriptions and consistent, repeatable "grading." Why all the hobby complaints about "grade inflation?" Is it false? Is it a mirage? No. It's real and measurable -- and it's getting worse.

lol  Your name calling and insults only show how angry you are at being left behind by the rest of the hobby.    Anyway you go ahead and continue to scream into the wind, after all your making such headway with your old days way.

Edited by Coinbuf
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/16/2022 at 2:54 PM, RWB said:

 ... Opinion, #3 is a high end VF - at least that's what I feel it's worth.

Running with that for arguments sake, I checked prices for a high-end VF through PCGS (I don't see RB or NGC gets that granular at VF/XF grades with their price guide.).  Looks like those high-end VF's (or VF+) are going in the $285 to $300 range, as compared to XF going in the $375 to $400 range.  I think I am still good at $305 and will pull the trigger because I like the coin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
2 2