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Strike designation standards - what are they?

15 posts in this topic

I'd like to use this thread to post the strike designation standards and the differences between companies. Here are the ones I know of to address: Jefferson nickel FS, Roosie dime FT, SLQ FH, Frankies FBL, FB Mercs, CAM & UCAM (although these are a little different from strike designation), RD & RB & BN (also different). Did I miss any?


I'll start with Jeff FS and I'll copy over Rick Montgomery's pst on FT, but if someone can add what the PCGS FT standard will be, that would be great.


Jefferson FS:


First, there can be no significant interruption to the steps that are conted, i.e. no bag marks that break the incuse line between steps and no tags between steps. Steps need to be struck up so that there is a clear count with the porch of Monticello as the topmost step.


NGC: 6 full steps. No exceptions.

PCGS: top 5 steps are intact. Can be more. Often miscounted and (therefore) missed. (Sorry, couldn't help it).

ANACS: 5-5.25 = 5 steps; 5.5-5.75 = 5.5 steps; 6 = 6 steps

SEGS: provides step count for 5 or more steps, so from 5-5-5-5 to 6-6-6-6 steps, with notes on ticks, nicks, and tags.

ICG: Same standard as PCGS.



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Here's Rick's post on the FT designation. Please see The Post for a picture and a link to NGC's press release. Someone please add info about PCGS's standard.


"Hello All,


I wanted to create this post in order to define our standards as to how NGC will be determining the new designation, Full Torch (FT). To keep the designation consistent for collectors of Roosevelt Dimes, we will use the term FT. In addition to being unique to the Roosevelt series, this designation will also distinguish itself from the FB designation currently used for Mercury Dimes.


Keep in mind that this designation will go into effect on Monday, April 14. For previously certified Roosevelt Dimes, NGC will inspect those coins under the Designation Review program.


With that, please view the following image. Note the upper and lower set of horizontal bands that are required to be split without major interruptions. Notice also the vertical lines on the torch are also defined without major interruptions."

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C'mon all you experts out there! Chime in on your series!


FB Mercs

FT Roosies


FBL Frankies



Oh! PL & DPL


Need to compare & contrast the grading services' requirements for the attrbution. Need your expertise here!



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I'd love to contribute to your thread because I think it's a good one. Unfortunately, I've never bothered to learn the technical merits of the various designations. Aside from luster and originality, what I like in a coin is too imprecise to be technically defined.




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It's hard to chime in when you don't collect moderns, SLQ's, Mercs, or copper. But I do collect Morgans and PL Commem's.

As far as NGC on DPL Morgan's I am confused as to what their standard is?? Rick Montgromery explained it in a Dec. '02 thread named "Obversations". I think he knows but I didn't get it??

PCGS looks for full 6" mirrors all the way around to get DMPL.

ANACS, I think, looks for 4" mirrors for DMPL and 12" mirrors for the UDM designation. From what little I know ANACS has a loser standard for DMPL. I found out the hard way about that!

I think I am the only one in the world interested in PL Comem's. PCGS doesn't reconize them!

NGC differs from Commem. to Commem. The Columbian's and New Roshelle's IMO, must look like a proof to receive PL. While BTW PL's aren't that deep PL. I haven't seen enough of the other Commems. to have any idea as to what is acceptable for PL and what isn't.

ANACS sticks PL on some Commem's but I haven't a clue as to what they look for either.

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For Fanklin halves:


NGC requires that all 7 rows be fully defined up to the crack with no bag marks interupting them. They are very strick and many coins look like solid FBL's but don't make the grade. I think they may be slightly too strict, but at least they are consistent!


PCGS only requires that the bottom rows be completely defined. The top rows don't matter. And, the lines CAN be interupted by large, blatant bag marks! Also, PCGS has a tendency to be very inconsistent with assigning the FBL designation. I have seen coins that don't even have complete bottom rows that made FBL for no particular reason.


I greatly prefere NGC's FBL standard because, not only does it actually require full bell lines (imagine that!), but it is also applied strictly and does not allow marks to interfere. NGC's standard just seems to fulfill my expectations better. If I am looking for full bell lines, I want full bell lines. And, only NGC's standard actually guarantees that I will get them.

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If you're going to add CAM, UCAM (DCAM), PL, DPL (DMPL), RD, RB and BN to your list then you may as well add the * designation, too.


The PCGS published grading guide contains their definitions for at least some of these, however, I know as well as many others do that they do not always adhere to their definitions.

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Well the reason I didn't add the * was simply because there's no one to contrast it with. Only NGC has the star, and it is simply defined as exceptional eye appeal that is unanimously agreed upon by the graders that consider any given coin.


Understanding the star


Thanks Tom.


And thanks coinman for the FBL explanation. Not being familiar with the series, how many lines are on the top row and how many on the bottom? tongue.gif



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Here's what Heritage has for some strike designations on their site:


Full Bands Abbreviated as FB, this term is applied to Mercury (Winged Liberty Head) dimes when the central band is fully separated.


Full Bell Lines Abbreviated as FBL, this term is applied to Franklin half-dollars when the lower sets of bell lines are complete.


Full Head Abbreviated as FH, this term is applied to Standing Liberty quarters when the helmet of the head has full detail.


Full Steps Term applied to a Jefferson five-cent piece when 5½ or 6 steps of Monticello are present.


Full strike A numismatic item that has full detail. The metal flows into all areas of the die.



I find it particularly interesting that for Full Bands, they target only the central bands. I've always thought that (at least NGC) required the three bands on top of the fasces, the two in the middle and the two on the bottom to be fully separated. Does NGC also require the fasces to be fully separated, similar to the vertical li8nes of the torch?


Also, for Full Steps, they have the definition implying 5.5 and 6 FS! Not true for most of the grading services (NGC is the exception, requiring 6).


For Frankies, they follow (apparently) the PCGS definition.


Are any of you familiar enough with the SLQ FH designation to be able to comment? Is one grading service tougher than another? What are the minute details considered?



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CoinFacts.com adds the following:




"The most desirable issues are those with Full Split Bands on the reverse, which means all of the bands that hold the fasces together on the reverse must be clearly and completely separated. While much attention is focused on the central bands, the bands on the ends of the fasces must be separated, as well."


CoinSite.com also agrees that all the bands must be distinct.




"So-called "Full Head" examples (those with complete details) often bring considerable premiums over poorly struck examples, but attention should also be paid to the rivets on the shield. Any coin with a Full Head and full rivets is a true prize."


Alas! CoinSite.com provides some greater detail on FH:


"Coins graded "full head" are much scarcer than those without, but this classification has more to do with the quality of the strike than with grade. To qualify for this designation, the coin must exhibit the following three features: three leaves in Liberty's hair must be totally visible, the hairline along Liberty's brow must be complete and the ear indentation must be evident."



And I still would like to know an FBL Franklin when I see one...



Now, how about the CAM vs. UCAM?


I still find the best reference Tomaska's book, but I don't know how this translates to the grading services.


RD, RB, and BN?


Maybe wecan all tell a BN copper when we see one, but the RB and RD are not always easily distinguished. I'd still like to know how the grading companies make the distinction... al little more digging.


crazy.gif Hoot

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Okay, I'll try to keep this brief, but I thought I'd let all of you know (and many of you probably do already) that the Dannreuther (PCGS) guide (I should have known) has a full list of the strike designations (except FT), color designations, and surface designations on pages 62-69. For those who do not have the book, here's the reference for the first edition:


Dannreuther, J.W. 1997. The Official Guide fo Coin Grading and Counterfeit Detection. S.A. Tavers, Ed. House of Collectibles, The Baltimore Publishing Group, NY, NY. 323 pp.


It can be had through Amazon for $60 and is a worthwhile text. I'm also sure a local library could get a hold of a copy and you can borrow it, no doubt, from the ANA library if you are a member. tongue.gif


Only a few supporting photographs for the strike designations. Other descriptive text and photos are found throughout, but the book presents a weak selection of photographs and illustrations (even though there are a lot of them). The text also does not tell you what others have mentioned about the stricter standards of NGC, of course.



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Those are great! pictures Ken! Many thanks. These are the quality of photos one would expect in the publication mentioned abouve, but unfortunately, it's not the case.


So, PCGS only requires the middle two bands to be split and NGC requires ALL bands to be split. When the middle bands are split, how well does this predict that the fasces will also be split and that the coin will be well struck?



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