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Indian Head Cent - Grading Challenge


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Here's a nice Indian Head Cent from my collection. While grading is subjective, this coin has been graded by a major service and I happen to agree with their findings. So for the fun of things I'm posting it here. Take a look and let us know how you'd grade it.

 

 

I used large pics to make things easier, so hopefully no one is on dialup.

 

6691786753_92b7849145_o.jpg

image001 by UGotaHaveArt, on Flickr

 

6691787207_d165a399c2_o.jpg

image003 by UGotaHaveArt, on Flickr

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Very hard to say without seeing in person, but I think I see a touch of wear on the feather tips, the cheek bone and on the high part of the ribbon on the reverse (at the bottom). If this is so, I'd have to say AU-58. But it could as well be MS-63, although I wouldn't necessarily go any higher than that -- without seeing the coin in person, that is.

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Grading from pictures is at best a "crap-shoot". I realize that but thought it would be a fun exercise. I'll wait a few more days to see if anyone else chimes in and then I'll reveal the grade given by the grading company and the grade that I'd give the coin myself. The dark areas on the coin are discolorations that I believe come about because of the way the planchett was mixed in the first place.

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I'll go with MS63 RB. Nice cent!

 

Here's a nice Indian Head Cent from my collection. While grading is subjective, this coin has been graded by a major service and I happen to agree with their findings. So for the fun of things I'm posting it here. Take a look and let us know how you'd grade it.

 

 

I used large pics to make things easier, so hopefully no one is on dialup.

 

6691786753_92b7849145_o.jpg

image001 by UGotaHaveArt, on Flickr

 

6691787207_d165a399c2_o.jpg

image003 by UGotaHaveArt, on Flickr

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  • 2 weeks later...

We ever gonna find out what grade this received?

 

Sorry. Yes. It slipped my mind for a bit.

 

6691799747_1e8c544b6c_z.jpg

1907 MS60RB obv by UGotaHaveArt, on Flickr

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Why just a 60, the strike looks decent and it has luster remaining

 

When this coin was graded ANACs was one of the strictest on US Coppers. They held the standards pretty tighly. By the current standards I'd guess this guy would get a much higher rating. While the strike is good and the color is very pleasing in real life you can see the die wear and a lack of crispness in the feathers and the wreathes. I'm guess that broken out and submitted today this coin would grade MS63 or maybe even MS64.

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...Hmmm, I have a 1931S in an ANACS holder from the early 90s. I wonder if it would benefit from a crackout.

 

It might. It seems to me that the standards have gotten quite a bit looser. I've been tempted to try one of my IHCs but when push-comes-to-shove, I'm too cheap to mess with it.

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They are hopefully buying the coin. But of course the sticker price for the coin will depend in large part on what the slab says. That pricing in turn will be based on what _most_ coins graded (say) MS63 RB look like. Even if standards were so loose that an actual 60 gets 63ed routinely, it doesn't matter much, because everyone knows what a "63" looks like and values it accordingly.

 

An astute buyer will note that older slabs and some newer ones are "undergraded" by today's standards and hopefully jump on that coin, because it will likely be priced as if it were the lower grade. (An astute dealer will mark the coin PQ and raise the price, though!) One thing that makes me pessimistic about my coin is that I did have a couple of dealers look at it when I was trying to sell it. They looked really closely and turned it down (I'd put a price about 20 bucks higher than gray sheet on it, hoping for counteroffers). So it may have been overgraded for its day and just right today.

 

The occasional difference between a slab grade and an actual grade, in the minds of individuals, is what helps make a market--to say nothing of different people valuing toning, originality, and strike (my personal fave) to different extents. I've seen plenty of highly graded coins with pathetic strikes(e.g., Walking Liberty halves with no trace of the hand) in MS-65 holders; I wouldn't pay MS-60 money for them as a collector, but I would jump on them at that price if I were thinking like a dealer and was planning on flipping them.

 

I suppose I could, at the next coin show, ask professional graders about my 31S. If I read my red book right, it's the toughest post-1930 date in the series (excepting double die and mintmark varieties), and tougher than any Philadelphia mint Lincoln Cent, so it should be worth a second look.

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"Market Grading" is quite fluid and seems to effect the slabbed and raw coin markets. I'm trying to remember when it happened but the "Grading Standards" of the ANA -- via the coin grading book were revised which included some loosing of the requirements for various grades. I think it was about 8-10 years ago. There was a lot of discussion on various boards and in the numismatic press about it. As I recall David Bowers wrote a number of columns on the subject.

 

Change -- it happens.

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Quite aside from the fact that all grades seem to have inflated:

 

I remember part of the impetus for the change was the realization that AU-58 coins were oftentimes more attractive than MS60 or MS61 coins... so they were starting to grade 58s as 62s and 63s. I had a problem with this. Calling a coin an MS62 is in part a statement that the coin shows no wear whatsoever (the definition of Mint State) but (likely) a lot of other forms of damage (toning, corrosion, bag marks..) And worn coins were being graded as Mint State to reflect their market value. This is not a problem with market value; it's a problem with the assumption, built into the old system that ANY amount of wear, no matter how small, is worse than ANY amount of bag marks, no matter how large.

 

My thoughts were that MS should be allowed to numerically go down to 50 for truly ugly examples that aren't worn, while AU should run up into the 60s. (After all, PF can get any number on the sheldon scale; you've probably seen coins graded PF-45.) Imagine a coin that somehow escaped bag marks.. but maybe has the tiniest trace of wear. Imagine another that ended up on the bottom of the bag and has multiple dings on it. An UNC morgan dollar with the worst pizza face acne you ever saw. Which is more desirable? Presumably the one with no bag marks but very light wear. The market for it might be M6-65 prices, but it's not MS, so technically the best it can get is a -58 grade. The other coin is ugly, and would only get AU50 money, except that the grading service ought technically to call it MS-60 because it's not worn. Allowing the MS and AU ranges to overlap solves the problem, the AU coin is AU-65 and the MS coin is MS-50. You have numbers that reflect their market value and desirability, and letters that tell you the coin does or does not have wear.

 

As it sits today, the numbers are reflecting the market value more and more, while the words "Mint State" and "About Uncirculated" oftentimes simply aren't true.

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Is the market savy enough to value an old undergraded coin more than a currently graded coin? Or do sellers have to consider reslabbing in order to get full market value?

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Most buyers aren't savvy enough... so much the better for those who are. Sellers probably should reslab an undergraded coin, and many make a lot of their income looking for such coins and doing so. (It used to be quite common; of late, probably most misgraded coins are slightly over graded because this process has been going on for years.)

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You'd think after 25 years the grades would need to reach some sort of equilibrium, it is a finite number of coins and going back to tighter grades probably discourages customers.

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I don't think there's been any effort to return to tighter grading, at least on the part of most dealers and third-party graders. There are some organizations such as EAC (Early American Coppers) who have their own standards established and adhere closely to them. I think the grading slide withing AU and BU grades is the area most in play.

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That would make sense, because that's where the big changes in price are. Of course once the inflation happens people discount it anyway.

 

I know even a couple of decades ago the grading for foreign coins was considered quite a bit stricter than for US coins; I bought many an XF Russian coin that, were it a US coin would have been called AU.

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