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question about RB/BRN/RD designation on cents

9 posts in this topic

I hope some of you don't think of this as a dumb question.


when it comes to designating cents (large cents/indians/lincolns/ and even half cents) red, red brown, brown, are the same standards applied to each series??


It seems to me that the services are much more liberal on the RB designation on early stuff.




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I don't live in the world of mint state early copper, however, from what I have seen I agree with you. I think they play fast and loose with the designations of color on the older copper and also are not all that consistent on where the lines are drawn for newer copper. Coins like two cent pieces and proof Indian cents seem to be the least consistent coin series for color designation. Either that, or all the coins have turned in their holders. While that may have happened to a certain extent, I think it is a consistency issue.

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the turning in the holders issue was another thing I was curious about. Glad you brought it up.


I don't own any MS early stuff but some of the ones I've seen slabbed as RB I certainly would not call RB.

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A bit 893offtopic1.gif. but... Some of the most handsome old copper I've seen is fully brown, especially in XF/AU and higher. With mint lustre beaming out from below a smooth brown tarnish! (Okay, it's just a thing I have).



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The services aren't more liberal re the RB designation when discussing Large and Half Cents. What happened is that PCGS in particular changed its standards as

to what qualifies as RB. It used to be that if a coin had between 5% and 95% of original mint RD, it would be slabbed in a RB holder.


In the last five years (maybe longer), a coin needs at least 25% mint red to be

slabbed as RB. Most of the coins you referred to I'll bet are in old holders, and

were slabbed under the old standards. If they were slabbed today, they would be

in BN holders. I have some BN coppers with more RD in them than the RB coins

you mention. IMO, they have also eased up on the RD designation a bit.


Several years ago, I asked PCGS about this, and they made a point of not giving

me an answer. Of the two services, PCGS has been more strict re grading of old copper in general, so I tend to buy their coins of these denominations.

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Goose, I think the color designations present problems for at least three reasons:


1) Inconsistency.


And, in defense of the grading services, the color designations can be as difficult or more so, than the numerical grading, itself.


Some of the particularly tough decisions come about when a copper coin has virtually no RD or RB color on the obverse but a good deal of RD or RB color on the reverse. Or, when the entire coin has an even virtually full RD color but a faint mellowing of that color - is that RD or RB? It can depend on the issue/date of the coin, as some dates do not display the same full RD color and luster that others do.There are MANY other color combinations and variances that often make these designations quite difficult.


2) Some coins turn in the holders.


3) Some coins are "liners" for both grade and color designation and might receive a compromise grade/color designation.


For instance, if a given copper coin is a borderline 65/66 and a borderline RB/RD, the grading service, rather than giving it the benefit of the doubt on both counts (or not giving the benefit of the doubt in either) might compromise and assign a grade of either 65RD or 66RB.It might seem odd, but it is a fair compromise and like it or not, it's a way of placing a "market value" on the coin.


Lastly, on EARLY copper (pre 1808 in particular), I believe that the grading services do make allowances for color designations and will call coins with a trace of RB color, "RB" and those with mellowed RD color, 'RD".

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