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1885 Liberty nickel value? first time using PCGS unexpected grade

CoinNoobieCoinNoobie Posts: 3
edited June 8, 2022 11:44PM in U.S. Coin Forum

I used PCGS for the first time and had this nickel graded, but was somewhat disappointed to see they didn't really give a grade because of a scratch. I would have thought scratches on old coins are normal from use and part of the grading criteria but I guess I was wrong. I probably should have made my account here and asked you gents first whether to submit it for grading but live and learn. My issue is that now because there is no provided grade, I don't know how to value it. PCGS called it "Genuine VG Details 95 Scratch"

Any thoughts or opinions on general value? Let me know if you can see the attached picture, this is my first time doing this:


  • lilolmelilolme Posts: 2,320 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I usually try to find something similar that has previously sold. You can spend more time than me but go to HA or another auction site (maybe eBay) and sort and look thru auction results. It will be difficult to come up with the same damage and grade but should give an idea. Here are some from HA.

    VG details Bent $223. June 2017

    VG details cleaning $247. Nov 2016

    G details scrape $180. March 2018

    Fine details damaged $192 Oct 2018

    VG details cleaned $276. Feb 2018

    G details scratched $159. April 2022

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  • cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 9,915 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I’m surprised that you’re surprised.

  • Walkerguy21DWalkerguy21D Posts: 10,870 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Like @jmlanzaf was saying, there’s more art than science to it.

    This is the same problem we collectors of early copper face, where the coins are scarce and “issues” abound. In general, the more impact on the eye appeal, the lower the value. Pieces trade individually based on their merits and detractors, with no real good guide for problem pieces, just whatever value a buyer and seller can agree to.

    In your case, you have a key date in a grade that many album collectors would like to have. If the mark was on the reverse, it would be less of an issue, but with the damage being on the obverse, it is far less desirable. This would likely require a lot of shopping around, or an auction, to determine a value (sale price).

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  • jesbrokenjesbroken Posts: 8,709 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This coin will be doubly hard to get a value due to the scratched obverse and the verdigris reverse. Most knowledgeable buyers wouldn't want it even for an album filler due to verdigris, which is what the green appears to be to me.

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  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 23,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A "budget" collector will want it ... for a budget price.

    All glory is fleeting.
  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CoinNoobie .... Welcome aboard. That is a bad gouge, and I am not surprised at the details grade. Definitely not a minor scratch. Good luck if you decide to sell. Cheers, RickO

  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 23,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Coins like that are best kept raw. It is a badly damaged key date of a coin that is not a counterfeiter's favorite. Slabbing them is just a waste of money.

    All glory is fleeting.
  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,033 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A scratch that size is not “normal.”

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
  • erwindocerwindoc Posts: 4,768 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That would be a perfect coin for someone making a low grade album set that just wants an authentic coin! I would think it would be price somewhere at the Good level.

  • ConnecticoinConnecticoin Posts: 12,418 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Even though the obverse gouge toned over nicely, it will result in a no-grade every time. Good grading lesson.

    If the coin is decent looking (like the OP coin), a good rule of thumb on "details" coins for me is roughly half the straight grade value, which is confirmed by the past auctions results posted above. That has been my experience selling "details" coins on ebay. Like others mentioned, unless the coin is widely counterfeited (like 09SVDB Lincoln), I would just keep coins like this raw, as they are good album coins.

  • PerryHallPerryHall Posts: 44,841 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Not every coin needs to be graded and slabbed by a major grading service. There are many low budget collectors who have fun filling holes in their coin albums and this coin can fill one of those hard to fill holes quite nicely.

    Worry is the interest you pay on a debt you may not owe.

  • DRUNNERDRUNNER Posts: 3,776 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Superb advice from posters here with decades of experience. I hope you take their advice . . . . .


  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 23,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @erwindoc said:
    That would be a perfect coin for someone making a low grade album set that just wants an authentic coin! I would think it would be price somewhere at the Good level.

    Not worth "G" money. AG money at best.

    All glory is fleeting.
  • Thanks guys. Like I said I'm very new to slabbing coins, my first instinct was to get it slabbed because it was a key date but I didn't really know the context of how undesirable the gouge is. Should I have cleaned the verdigris if I hadn't slabbed it? I know you never want to clean coins generally speaking, but if mine was already so badly damaged with the gouge would it be a net positive to clean the green verdigris?

  • braddickbraddick Posts: 22,516 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The green verdigris is also somewhat troubling- on the lower reverse.
    PCGS could have labeled your coin "damaged," which carries a more negative attribute than scratched.


  • cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 9,915 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @PerryHall said:
    Not every coin needs to be graded and slabbed by a major grading service. There are many low budget collectors who have fun filling holes in their coin albums and this coin can fill one of those hard to fill holes quite nicely.

    That's heresy! ;)o:)

  • lkeneficlkenefic Posts: 7,477 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Lots of good advice from some very experienced dealers and well-established collectors.

    I see where you would want to have a key date slabbed for authentication purposes even if the coin has issues. I collect Early Copper pieces and there's a constant balancing act between "issues" like: surface condition, color, damage, remaining details, eye appeal, etc... and price!

    A budget minded collector is still going to see value in your 1885 Liberty Nickel because you've had it authenticated. With the seemingly unendless supply of counterfeit coins trickling into the Market, it wouldn't shock me to see lower end damaged pieces being passed off as real. Oftentimes, the counterfeiters use the "damage" to hide tool marks or other imperfections so their garbage can be passed off on an uneducated public. I've seen this numerous times over the years... I think there's at least a thread a day on 1909-S VDBs, 1914-D Lincoln Cents, 1916-D Merc Dimes... etc, etc... So, in this sense, even having a damaged coin authenticated adds value for a collector on a budget.

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