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The power of plastic as revealed by coin archives


marv
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When you have coins that are fairly scarce, it's easier to compare prices realized with the use of coinarchives.com.

 

Case in point: a chinese republican dollar, minted for Chinese President Hsu Shih-Chang in 1921, the famouse pavillion dollar showing Hsu's bust in civilian dress, and a garden pavillion on the reverse. These are very scarce in nice condition.

 

Here's a coin that was first sold in April, 2008, by Baldwin's Hong Kong as an AU coin for $1500 (+buyer's premium):

Baldwin's Hong Kong April 2008

 

Sometime between April 2008 and January 2009, it may have been sent to NCS for a little cleanup or not. It looks a bit different here, but if you compare the toning patterns, which are very distinctive, you can see that this next coin is the same coin, but now magically transformed from an AU coin to a PCGS MS65! and sold for $8000!

Heritage Sale 4 Jan 2009

 

The lighting is different, but the coins are obviously the same. Shows the power of plastic.

 

This person made a profit of $6500 in nine months. Not bad!

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I would suggest the only difference is the lighting and photographic effects. I am convinced it is the same coin and it has not been cleaned or otherwise "conserved."

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Here's a coin that was first sold in April, 2008, by Baldwin's Hong Kong as an AU coin for $1500 (+buyer's premium):

Baldwin's Hong Kong April 2008

 

Sometime between April 2008 and January 2009, it may have been sent to NCS for a little cleanup or not. It looks a bit different here, but if you compare the toning patterns, which are very distinctive, you can see that this next coin is the same coin, but now magically transformed from an AU coin to a PCGS MS65! and sold for $8000!

Heritage Sale 4 Jan 2009

I agree with Bill; doesn't look like cleaning to me.

 

I noticed a lot of Russian coins in European catalogs listed as "vorzüglich" (literally "XF", but in most cases actually "AU") which would grade at least MS-63 in an American slab (IMHO).

 

Maybe it is time to do some cherry picking? :ninja:

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If you open the second image in Photoshop etc within in a few seconds you can match it almost exactly to the first image. You cannot alter the highlights on the cheek etc from the lighting, but I agree with Bill & Bobh it has not been cleaned.

 

As you observed, not a bad profit from a piece of plastic. Well spotted!

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I would be very disappointed in Heritage if they let a doctored coin slip through at a price that high.

 

I didn't mean to suggest that the coin was doctored. I just wanted to emphasize just how subjective grading can be. In this case, I personally think the coin is ugly and doesn't merit a '65 designation. To me, a 65 coin should have eye appeal, and, judging by the pictures, this coin does not. The toning is not attractive and obscures the detail, but that is again a personal opinion, and I would not buy the coin based on the pictures. Perhaps in person I would arrive at a different opinion.

 

I have one of these pavillion dollars, and in my opinion, it is far superior in terms of eye appeal to the subject of this topic . I recently sent my coin to NGC for grading, and it came back as an MS61. In my wildest imagination, I cannot conceive a grade of MS61 for my coin. The only detraction, if you look with a magnifying glass, is a couple of patches of hairlines on the proof-like surfaces of the obverse. Without magnification, the coin is flawless, but the graders at NGC apparently felt that hairlines negated all the positive qualities of this coin, enough so to grade it nearly at the bottom of the uncirculated class. I think this was an example of micro-grading, losing sight of the forest for the trees. When I saw another example of the same coin type in coin archives, with the very ugly (IMHO) toning coming from NGC as a 65, it just gauled me more.

 

I am taking my coin back to NGC's table at the next Long Beach show, together with a copy of the Goldberg's Millennia sale with all the high resolution pictures of heavily hairlined coins in the sale sporting NGC "63" and "64" (PF and MS) designations and will ask them how to reconcile the grade on my coin with the pictures. Without any hairlines, my coin would be at least a 66 if not a 67. I'll be interested to hear the explanations. Then, maybe I'll go over to the PCGS table, cover the MS61 designation on the slab, and get their opinion.

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I didn't mean to suggest that the coin was doctored. I just wanted to emphasize just how subjective grading can be. In this case, I personally think the coin is ugly and doesn't merit a '65 designation. To me, a 65 coin should have eye appeal, and, judging by the pictures, this coin does not. The toning is not attractive and obscures the detail, but that is again a personal opinion, and I would not buy the coin based on the pictures. Perhaps in person I would arrive at a different opinion.

 

I think you've hit on my problem with numeric grading and slabbing. Numbers, especially 61 through 70 imply certitude in what is inherently a subjective opinion. When you add a CAC sticker on top of a numeric grade, you are basically acknowledging that no two coins with the same number are necessarily alike. If you view coins as commodities, then slabs facilitate trade. Collecting for me, however, is a hobby and a passion. I enjoy the coins (and medals), research, writing, cataloging, photography, and even a profit from time to time. I have one tiny California gold charm still in the slab it was in when I bought it, largely because the slab is good protection for such a small trifle. The other two I have are not slabbed and I won't submit them for slabbing. The other pieces that I have bought in slabs, I've broken out. They were slabbed by dealers to bring more money at auction. It obviously works, but as you note, if the buyer is not discriminating in their tastes they pay thousands of dollars for a number on a coin inferior in eye appeal to one with a lower number. It just doesn't make good sense to me.

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I think you've hit on my problem with numeric grading and slabbing. Numbers, especially 61 through 70 imply certitude in what is inherently a subjective opinion. When you add a CAC sticker on top of a numeric grade, you are basically acknowledging that no two coins with the same number are necessarily alike. If you view coins as commodities, then slabs facilitate trade. Collecting for me, however, is a hobby and a passion. I enjoy the coins (and medals), research, writing, cataloging, photography, and even a profit from time to time. I have one tiny California gold charm still in the slab it was in when I bought it, largely because the slab is good protection for such a small trifle. The other two I have are not slabbed and I won't submit them for slabbing. The other pieces that I have bought in slabs, I've broken out. They were slabbed by dealers to bring more money at auction. It obviously works, but as you note, if the buyer is not discriminating in their tastes they pay thousands of dollars for a number on a coin inferior in eye appeal to one with a lower number. It just doesn't make good sense to me.

 

 

What bill said... :ninja:

 

Some of my best days is when I return a coin to the wild.

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It just doesn't make good sense to me.

 

Or good cents for that matter!

 

I agree with you Bill, I hope it never becomes fashionable to grade all tokens, conders & historical medals.

 

Why cannot people use their own eyes and experience to judge the condition of a medal/coin. Do they need someone else to slab and grade potential girlfriends/boyfriends too.

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Or good cents for that matter!

 

I agree with you Bill, I hope it never becomes fashionable to grade all tokens, conders & historical medals.

 

Why cannot people use their own eyes and experience to judge the condition of a medal/coin. Do they need someone else to slab and grade potential girlfriends/boyfriends too.

 

The reason people slab is more than just fashion. It's the same reason that people have diamonds graded by GIA, or that people have houses inspected prior to signing the purchase contract. It's unreasonable to expect everyone to be expert in everything they want to purchase. Just because someone appreciates fine art and would like to buy some for display at home doesn't mean that that person needs to become an old masters expert. It's easier to hire someone who has experience to perform the authentication or inspection or grading for the buyer and provide the confidence that what the buyer is buying is genuine and worth the money. That's why I don't understand the derision that is directed against respectable coin grading firms.They perform a service just like GIA, home inspectors, fine art appraisers, etc. for items which can run into the thousands of dollars. If you are instead buying cheap items, then yes, you don't need GIA for grading costume jewelry or a home inspector for buying a garden shed, or a fine art appraiser for buying a print from KMart, just as you don't need PCGS or NGC when buying a well-worn 1905 Indian cent.

 

Don't get me wrong. There are still good reasons for informed buying, for not totally abdicating to the grading firm one's responsibility for coin purchases. In the same manner, there are good reasons for accumulating knowledge about any item one wishes to purchase, especially if it's an expensive item, be it diamonds, houses or fine art. One will enjoy a purchase more if one knows something about the item and is able to use the grading report as basis for further study. Working with a knowlegable dealer is another step that a prospective buyer should also take.

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Well I guess that is part of the problem, that almost anything is sent for grading, which increases costs for everyone. As you say you have a house inspected, but a coin/medal only has 2 sides and an edge. Not too complicated.

 

I can see, that if the object is expensive it might be desirable to have an independent opinion especially if you are an investor with no experience, unlike a collector that has some knowledge about the item being purchased.

 

Also if you happen to collect russian coins etc, where there are many fakes, grading is well worth considering and if you are purchasing without the opportunity to handle the item ditto.

 

Many art experts have been fooled over the years, and people have bought from reputable auction houses and ended up with fakes, the same goes for museums.

 

I suspect the same coin sent to different graders or even the same grading service on another day could well be graded differently.

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Well I guess that is part of the problem, that almost anything is sent for grading, which increases costs for everyone. As you say you have a house inspected, but a coin/medal only has 2 sides and an edge. Not too complicated.

 

I beg to differ. A house can be repaired, painted, fixed up and made to look almost like new (although it might be expensive). With a coin, one is generally stuck with it as it is, although some coins can have non-invasive contaminants removed to improve the appearance and make it more appealing to other buyers. This is done to ancient coins routinely.

 

A naive or inexperienced buyer who might buy a coin for a high price that is bright and shiny thinking that it is new, only to learn later that the surfaces have been ruined by harsh or abrasive scouring, is stuck with the coin. There is no way to "repair" it or undo the damage, unlike a house. So, in my opinion, disinterested third party evaluation is even more important for coins than for houses. In fact, these days, the slabbers attempt to do "market grading" where they grade on a scale that attempts to quantify the relative marketability of the coin. This approach tends to overweight rare coins and underweight more common coins to the point where a Morgan dollar might be graded lower than a bust dollar with approximately the same wear or detracting marks since the bust dollar is a much rarer item and consequently more valuable. In some cases, AU bust dollars that have particularly nice eye appeal might be graded as mint state 62. The grader is making a statement that in his/her opinion, this particular bust dollar might bring as much money as a less appealing bust dollar with a technical grade, based on strike, wear and surface marks alone, of MS62. It's very subjective and subject to criticism, but the end result, I believe, tends to benefit those buyers of expensive coins much more so than buyers of more mundane coins. And I think that's as it should be as the buyers of expensive coins are risking much more than buyers of less expensive coins. For the knowledgeable collector with a high-end collection, slabbing is just an additional vote of confidence for his coins; for the inexperienced collector, slabbing provides a means to avoid making some of the mistakes that every new collector makes as he/she learns about collecting. Slabbing is there to use or not as one desires.

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The reason people slab is more than just fashion. It's the same reason that people have diamonds graded by GIA, or that people have houses inspected prior to signing the purchase contract. It's unreasonable to expect everyone to be expert in everything they want to purchase. Just because someone appreciates fine art and would like to buy some for display at home doesn't mean that that person needs to become an old masters expert. It's easier to hire someone who has experience to perform the authentication or inspection or grading for the buyer and provide the confidence that what the buyer is buying is genuine and worth the money. That's why I don't understand the derision that is directed against respectable coin grading firms.They perform a service just like GIA, home inspectors, fine art appraisers, etc. for items which can run into the thousands of dollars. If you are instead buying cheap items, then yes, you don't need GIA for grading costume jewelry or a home inspector for buying a garden shed, or a fine art appraiser for buying a print from KMart, just as you don't need PCGS or NGC when buying a well-worn 1905 Indian cent.

 

Well said Marv.

 

If I pay more than $100 for a coin I usually send it off to be certified ny NGC just to be sure it's genuine and not a Chinese fake.

 

Two of the nicest coins that I purchased lately, both Dutch gold, turned out to be counterfeits. Bringing my counterfeit total to six. (3-Dutch, 2-US, 1-Spanish).

 

After 40+ years of coin collecting I have become pretty good at grading coins, and usually I am no more than one or two points off from the NGC grade. But telling a fake double ducat from a real one is still beyond me.

 

Rest assured that if you don't send out your $100+ coins to be certified then you probably have a few fakes that you will swear on a stack of bibles are real.

 

I miss the days when 100% of the coins I purchased were real. But those days are over. Be careful out there! :ninja:

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