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Guide or rules to grading Russian coins?


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Are there guides or rules to grading certain Russian coinage? For example, when looking at Nicholas II coinage, I've heard of "European standard" of assigning grades based on the details of St. George in the chest of the double eagle... are there rules about how to assign a grade? Maybe the detail on the talons holding the orb? Or the small family shields within the eagle's wings? What do you look for when you're grading?

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Are there guides or rules to grading certain Russian coinage? For example, when looking at Nicholas II coinage, I've heard of "European standard" of assigning grades based on the details of St. George in the chest of the double eagle... are there rules about how to assign a grade? Maybe the detail on the talons holding the orb? Or the small family shields within the eagle's wings? What do you look for when you're grading?

I have never seen any grading guidelines about Russian coins published anywhere. Since Europeans are usually stricter about grading in the XF/UNC range than either of the most respected third-party grading companies in the USA, I would go to a site such as Heritage and look around their archives for slabbed Russian coins. Take almost everything you see with a grade of VF-35 through XF-40 and replace that with VF; replace XF-45 through AU-55 with XF; anything between AU-58 and MS-63 would be AU. UNC starts at about MS-64/65, and FDC would be MS-65 or better (IMHO).

 

With circulated grades, many dealers only look at the obverse which usually gets more wear than the reverse because the devices tend to be more raised (Nicholas' hair and beard, for example). Regardless how beautiful the reverse might be, the obverse grade is what you get for the coin (especially if you are trying to sell something to that dealer... :angry: ). Some auction sites such as the Czech AUREA auctions will give a separate grade to the obverse and reverse. There you might see a grade of "1/0" for "obverse=AU/reverse=UNC" for some coins, or maybe "1-/1" for "XF-AU/AU".

 

Also, be sure to take market grading and the resulting grade inflation into consideration with the current trend towards slabbing everything these days (IMHO).

 

Interestingly enough, many European dealers (and presumably collectors) seem to be more tolerant of cleaned coins than American collectors would be. Perhaps this is because anything older than 1850 has probably been cleaned at some time or another, because it used to be "de jour" to keep one's coins bright and shiny (King Farouk apparently was a prime example of a dedicated coin cleaner).

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Are there guides or rules to grading certain Russian coinage? For example, when looking at Nicholas II coinage, I've heard of "European standard" of assigning grades based on the details of St. George in the chest of the double eagle... are there rules about how to assign a grade? Maybe the detail on the talons holding the orb? Or the small family shields within the eagle's wings? What do you look for when you're grading?

 

I am not sure there is a single unified "European standard". Those derided coin authentication services made grading in the US fairly standardized, but in Europe things are much less clear.

 

Bob is correct that they are more strict in Europe. For example, about a year ago I bought an 1864 20 kopek from a dealer in the UK as a good Extremely Fine, but when I sent it to PCGS it came back as MS-64.

 

There also seems to be confusion with translation from foreign languages into English. For example, the German word "vorzuglich" is usually translated in auction catalogues and price lists as "Extremely Fine", but I have noticed that coins in US slabs with grades AU-55 through MS-62 they call "vorzuglich". I am not sure what an AU-50 coin would be in such a catalogue (a "gutes sehr schon" maybe?) Also, if in English we have an "Almost Uncirculated" in German they also seem to have an Almost Fine, Almost Very Fine, Almost Extremely Fine, etc ("fast schon, fast sehr schon", fast "vorzuglich).

 

Scandinavian grading seems to be a little less strict than German. A "0" is normally translated as "Uncirculated" and that is what it seems to be in our (US) understanding (at least judging from Thomas Hoiland catalogues).

 

And then there is Russia, where some sellers have adopted the US grading scale, and others have kept Russian.

 

But back to your original question as to whether there are any guides. I have never seen anything published. Maybe somebody else here has seen a standard or guide. There has got to be something that the grading services use internally that is more detailed than the standards that they post on their websites. If you read PCGS online glossary of terms you can get a pretty good idea of what standards they apply to grading in general, but not to Russian or other world coins in particular. If somebody here has seen anything published please let us know.

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Thanks for the responses, they've been very helpful :art: I did notice that the obverse tends to deserve a different grade than the reverse, and I think what I'll do is check out the heritage archives online to see how the TPG's assign the gradees and what the trends seem to be.

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http://www.ruscoins.ru/index.php?articles=yes&articleID=4&p=1

Here's one article on the subject from Russian "Numismatics" magazine. It may be useful for a novice, being illustrated by some pictures of Russian coins.

Excellent article ... lovely coins, and great photography! Thanks for this link! :bthumbsup:

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  • 2 weeks later...

For example, the German word "vorzuglich" is usually translated in auction catalogues and price lists as "Extremely Fine", but I have noticed that coins in US slabs with grades AU-55 through MS-62 they call "vorzuglich". I am not sure what an AU-50 coin would be in such a catalogue (a "gutes sehr schon" maybe?) Also, if in English we have an "Almost Uncirculated" in German they also seem to have an Almost Fine, Almost Very Fine, Almost Extremely Fine, etc ("fast schon, fast sehr schon", fast "vorzuglich).

 

In your experience, what would be "fast stempelglanz"?

 

 

As for grading, I've seen things both ways. My main problem is with the traditional British grade "fair", which in my experience can appearently range from PO-01 to VG-8. :confus:

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If a coin is graded and includes wording such as "au details", does this imply that the coin is damaged in some way, but has some nice detail left somewhere on it's surface? Are these coins still collectable?

 

Usually such coins have been cleaned or have some environmental damage to their fields. Some of these coins look great, exhibiting only light hairlines that can't be seen with a naked eye. Why not collect them?

 

I think the popular saying is - "Buy the coin, not the slab"! Just remember not to spend too much :D

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In your experience, what would be "fast stempelglanz"?

 

 

 

I can't recall seeing any slabbed coins listed in catalogues as "fast stempelglanz". Stempelglanz is usually a gem, so I would imagine "fast stempelglanz" would be something like a choice uncirculated coin (MS63-MS64), but somebody more familiar with German grading should confirm that. Bob, any thoughts?

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I can't recall seeing any slabbed coins listed in catalogues as "fast stempelglanz". Stempelglanz is usually a gem, so I would imagine "fast stempelglanz" would be something like a choice uncirculated coin (MS63-MS64), but somebody more familiar with German grading should confirm that.

1 rouble 1842 - Kuenker 164(Jan 2010) - "f-st" - NGC MS64

1 rouble 1832 - Gorny 178(March 2009) - "f-st" - NGC MS61

etc.

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I can't recall seeing any slabbed coins listed in catalogues as "fast stempelglanz". Stempelglanz is usually a gem, so I would imagine "fast stempelglanz" would be something like a choice uncirculated coin (MS63-MS64), but somebody more familiar with German grading should confirm that. Bob, any thoughts?

That sounds about right to me. :bthumbsup:

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