Home U.S. Coin Forum

CACG, Cabinet friction, and early federal coinage

cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 10,055 ✭✭✭✭✭

For those of you with experience with CACG coins, what is your perception of how forgiving CACG is with cabinet friction? Is it more, less, or same as CAC?

Comments

  • MFeldMFeld Posts: 11,726 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That question can’t be answered with any reasonable degree of accuracy. Because coins that were rejected by CAC due to that issue wouldn’t typically be identified by CAC. The coins just wouldn’t receive stickers.

    Mark Feld* of Heritage Auctions*Unless otherwise noted, my posts here represent my personal opinions.

  • cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 10,055 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 7, 2024 5:43PM

    @MFeld said:
    That question can’t be answered with any reasonable degree of accuracy. Because coins that were rejected by CAC due to that issue wouldn’t typically be identified by CAC. The coins just wouldn’t receive stickers.

    Great point. Based on what you know about the CAC and CACG graders, do you predict a tightening of the standards for Bust coinage or am I stressing over nothing? My hope is to begin working on a high AU to mid MS set of Bust Halves later this year, and I am trying to get a feel for the likely market especially in light of the new addition to top tier grading.

  • cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 10,055 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks! CAC has been far less forgiving of friction than PCGS or NGC for sure. I appreciate your sage advice and will likely delay the set to observe market trends. Thanks again.

  • ElcontadorElcontador Posts: 7,406 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'd tell you to get high end AU Capped Bust Halves due to their being open collar struck coins (not being minted using the steam press) and grading being all over the place for coins in MS 58 through MS 62, and sometimes, MS 63 holders.

    As far as the new CAC service, I agree with Mark. Let others test the waters before you jump in with both feet. People out there will always want to do business with you, whether it is today or next year.

    "Vou invadir o Nordeste,
    "Seu cabra da peste,
    "Sou Mangueira......."
  • Project NumismaticsProject Numismatics Posts: 1,278 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would consider focusing on high-end AU coins. No risk of an MS to AU downgrade if you focus on AU holdered coins.

    Alternatively, buy CAC-stickered MS coins if you want to minimize the risk.

    If you focus on eye appeal as your primary consideration, your downside risk will be minimized regardless of grade.

    Attend as many auction lot viewings that feature bust coinage as possible. View every AU and MS bust coin in each auction. Spotting 'cabinet friction' will become easier the more coins you see.

    What is your goal with the set? To have fun? Investment? How important is to you 'not to lose money'? What is your timeframe for acquisition and resale?

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,293 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @cameonut2011 said:
    Thanks! CAC has been far less forgiving of friction than PCGS or NGC for sure. I appreciate your sage advice and will likely delay the set to observe market trends. Thanks again.

    Or just avoid the friction while you're dabbling. I know that friction, old cleaning, etc. are pretty common on these issues. But if you stumble across something fully wholesome, I'm pretty sure nothing coming down the pike is going to impair its value

  • MFeldMFeld Posts: 11,726 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway, that sounds so reasonable! And yet, unfortunately, many coins that deserve high AU grades are in mint state holders.

    Mark Feld* of Heritage Auctions*Unless otherwise noted, my posts here represent my personal opinions.

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,293 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MFeld said:
    @CaptHenway, that sounds so reasonable! And yet, unfortunately, many coins that deserve high AU grades are in mint state holders.

    I second that. It is most elegant solution and certainly more informative to the buyer than simply ignoring it.

    This is really the tyranny of the grade. A beautiful 58 is worth owning. But the owner feels the grade is punitive rather than informative.

  • DRUNNERDRUNNER Posts: 3,789 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A memorable post that transcends the mundane and cuts to the heart of the matter. Well done, and a superb example of why observing several posters here can broaden and deepen your numismatic knowledge or opinions.

    Drunner

  • divecchiadivecchia Posts: 6,508 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway That was a great write-up!!!

    Thanks for taking the time pass on some of your knowledge and educate us.

    Donato

    Hobbyist & Collector (not an investor).
    Donato's Complete US Type Set ---- Donato's Dansco 7070 Modified Type Set ---- Donato's Basic U.S. Coin Design Set

    Successful transactions: Shrub68 (Jim), MWallace (Mike)
  • Manifest_DestinyManifest_Destiny Posts: 3,009 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway awesome post!

  • coastaljerseyguycoastaljerseyguy Posts: 1,205 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very informative write-up and history lesson on the accepted grades that we have today.

    I use to go to shows years ago where some dealers sold 'BU' Morgans/Peace by the roll. I use to cringe when I saw potential buyers open a roll onto their palm and flip through the coins with their oily fingers, and then not buy the roll and put it back for others to do the same. I use to think that is now basically a high AU roll. Besides wear/friction on a coin, I think sweat and oils destroys luster as much if it is not rinsed off with acetone/solvent immediately.

  • breakdownbreakdown Posts: 1,948 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Captain
    Thank you for taking the time to write this post. Excellent.
    The tyranny of the grade (per Jmlanzaf) is apt. It is also the tyranny of the registry - it rewards a banged-up 61 over a near- pristine 58. Hence a lot of near-uncirculated 58s end up in “net-graded” 63 holders (or higher!).

    "Look up, old boy, and see what you get." -William Bonney.

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,436 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I once had in inventory an absolutely gorgeous AU-58 Turban Head $10 that I offered to a serious collector we had. He turned it down because it was not "Mint State." I bit my tongue and sold it to somebody else.

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • psuman08psuman08 Posts: 217 ✭✭✭

    Great read Captain H!

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,162 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 9, 2024 10:44PM

    @CaptHenway said:
    It is my belief that this process, or something very similar to what is described, is the origin of the euphemistically >called "Uncirculated with Cabinet Friction" coin.

    So from what you are saying.....WEAR is WEAR....it doesn't matter that the coin never circulated, was handled, cleaned, or whatever....if those high points show a loss of luster or wear....it's an AU coin and no longer MS. Even if it is 2 coins clanging in a bag that caused the "wear" -- right ?

    Question: Can we determine for most/all coins if that wear on the high point is in fact from circulation/handling or 2 coins banging in a bag (instead of bag marks in the fields) ?

    Another thread here talked about "the appearance of wear" from high points on devices not being completely filled from the dies. Is there ANY APPEARANCE of "wear" on high points that could be a result of something other than wear like the poor metal flow into the dies resulting in poor strikes on high points ?

    Because that seemed to be in dispute in other threads I have read....and if that is the case, then dropping (some) coins from MS to AU simply on the luster/wear/high point test might be premature, no ?

    So, before we started officially grading coins on March 1, 1979, and after consultation with people like Abe Kosoff >who wrote the book, I added MS-63 and MS-67 to the mix to give us four usable grade levels.

    Wow, impressive !! :)

    Our biggest problem was with the pre-1840 (or so) coinage. There had been a few coins basically as I have >described above, with fairly clean, fully lustrous fields AND wear on the high points. That Mint-made die steel luster, >and/or planchet luster, was gone from the high points. In its place was a small patch of dull, scuffed metal typical of >the surface seen on an obviously circulated coin. You know, WEAR! These coins were invariably listed as >"Uncirculated."

    Was that true "wear" or defective, primitive striking patterns resulting in the die not being filled completely to the high point ?

    Don't you have to be an expert on different metals and how they flow into the die for different coins to understand how the strikes might appear as lustrous or not, showing wear or not ? Coins struck in the early-1800's were using primitive presses compared to gold and silver coins in the early-1900's some 100-120 years later.

    "The term "Uncirculated," interchangeable with "Mint State," refers to a coin which has never seen circulation. Such >a piece has no wear of any kind...." Literalist that I am, I interpreted this to mean that coins with wear on them did >not qualify for a Mint State grade. It did not say "Such a piece has no wear of any kind, except on the high points >from counting tables which doesn't count." These coins had WEAR on them, so they were not "Mint State." I still >believe that that is true.

    Again, can that appearance of "wear" be created from The Poor Strike Theory or any other anomaly that doesn't automatically drop a coin from MS to AU ? It seems to me this is the crux of the Technical vs. Market Grading Conundrum that I have read about for years but never really understood. Not about the numbers within the EF, AU, or MS sectors....but the dichotomy between true MS and actual AU.

    CIRCULATION wear to me was pretty well-defined but these other kinds of "wear" I think the TPGs over time minimized them so as not to drop coins from MS to AU.

    Details/Cleaned.....let's say someone had a nice MCMVII HR Saint, a coin with well-defined high points. If some coins were struck with worn dies or the pressure was off, could that give the appearance of "wear" on the high points ?

    What about the coin being kept in a velvet pouch or jewelry box and just sliding along felt or velvet when occasionally accessed....could that make it look like the coin was "cleaned" even though it may have been treated like a family heirloom in a safe deposit box ?

  • Namvet69Namvet69 Posts: 8,592 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Another great morning read with my first cup of coffee. Capt., so glad you're here for me. Have a good day. Peace Roy

    BST: endeavor1967, synchr, kliao, Outhaul, Donttellthewife, U1Chicago, ajaan, mCarney1173, SurfinHi, MWallace, Sandman70gt, mustanggt, Pittstate03, Lazybones, Walkerguy21D, coinandcurrency242 , thebigeng, Collectorcoins, JimTyler, USMarine6, Elkevvo, Coll3ctor, Yorkshireman, CUKevin, ranshdow, CoinHunter4, bennybravo, Centsearcher, braddick, Windycity, ZoidMeister, mirabela, JJM, RichURich, Bullsitter, jmski52

  • jesbrokenjesbroken Posts: 9,027 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would much rather have an AU58 coin than any MS60-62 coin that I have seen for a collection, value aside. I think a true collector and not a dealer might feel the same. JMO
    Again, thank you @CaptHenway for sharing your knowledge. Hard to know these things without the benefit one who has witnessed it's beginnings.
    Jim


    When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken or cease to be honest....Abraham Lincoln

    Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.....Mark Twain
  • knovak1976knovak1976 Posts: 201 ✭✭✭

    For those concerned about CACG it seems more and more of their graded coins are showing up in GC’s weekly auction….and the prices have been good. Thanks for the well written post CaptHenway! It’s always great to hear from a true pro of the “why’s and how’s” they do things!

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,162 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 10, 2024 7:04AM

    I didn't say it, but CH that post of yours was super-informative and I really appreciate these educational threads like the other one where people went back-and-forth with Rex.

    A less-experienced collector/grader like me benefits ENORMOUSLY from these back-and-forth threads.

  • willywilly Posts: 271 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great post @CaptHenway it is interesting hearing about the early days of commercial grading. Always wonder who came up with the different grades and here you are.

  • EASilverEASilver Posts: 35 ✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway Thank you! This is the most informative and authoritative treatment of this subject that I have ever read. It also reminds me of how useful the old ANACS certificates were to understanding a grade with their rating of each of the factors that went into the grade. I miss those.

  • ashelandasheland Posts: 22,564 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Excellent thread! 👍

  • RexfordRexford Posts: 1,113 ✭✭✭✭✭

    One more thing: I think the “unstruck planchet” issue has gotten a bit out of hand. When I mentioned it in the other thread, it was not to imply that there is confusion or debate among the grading services about this - it’s a pretty basic tenet of grading, and it is distinctive from true wear. I was responding to comments about the characteristics of specific coins that were posted in the thread, but it may otherwise not be relevant to the CACG discussion at all.

  • cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 10,055 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 14, 2024 7:23AM

    @Rexford said:

    @CaptHenway said:
    "The term "Uncirculated," interchangeable with "Mint State," refers to a coin which has never seen circulation. Such a piece has no wear of any kind...."

    Literalist that I am, I interpreted this to mean that coins with wear on them did not qualify for a Mint State grade. It did not say "Such a piece has no wear of any kind, except on the high points from counting tables which doesn't count." These coins had WEAR on them, so they were not "Mint State." I still believe that that is true.

    Not wanting to knock them down to the highest AU grade in the book, AU-55, I created the AU-58 grade for coins that probably had never seen commercial circulation, but which nevertheless had WEAR on them. I still believe that this is appropriate.

    TD

    And how exactly does one determine that a coin has never circulated? You can pick modern Shield cents out of pocket change in MS67, with zero high-point friction, if you wish. Those coins have circulated. And what defines a complete lack of circulation, in a literal sense? Are only coins that have been plucked directly from the mint uncirculated, such as Mint Sets, bags, or rolls? If a literalist approach were actually employed (assuming omniscience regarding whether a coin has circulated), there would be exceedingly few US coins from, say, pre-1850, that would technically qualify as MS.

    “Uncirculated”, if taken literally, would not be a measure of condition, but a statement that a coin has not seen circulation. A coin could theoretically be buried underground or in a shipwreck before seeing circulation and the surfaces subsequently corrode down to the point that it would be presently called VF details. That coin is still “Uncirculated” in a literal sense. Or I could take a coin from a Mint Set and wear it down in my pocket without placing it in circulation. Should those coins be called MS?

    To respond with another essay:

    “Mint State”, as presently employed, is instead used to describe a particular condition of a coin, and is used with the understanding that it is not in fact literal. Now, since a literal approach to “Uncirculated” is both pointless and impossible, the threshold of AU and MS is one that must be decided by humans. The two major grading services’ response to this question can be generalized as the presence of high-point “color-change”, which is a degree of friction to the point that luster is broken and there is notable dullness. This is because for a coin to reach that point of legitimate high-point “color-change”, it generally must have been handled by fingers. A coin with mild high-point friction (let’s say, an average WLH in MS62) might not have actually circulated - that friction could be from stacking against other coins or banging around in a bag.

    Now, whether some in this thread would admit it or not, there is a clear difference in the quality between the average PCGS/NGC AU58 with legitimate high-point dullness, and a PCGS/NGC MS64 with mild high-point friction. If there weren’t a difference, graders would not be able to distinguish the conditions of those coins and they would be randomly placed between AU58 and MS64 grades (and remember, graders have to consistently line up with each other). The average collector and dealer also generally has a fairly easy time telling the difference between coins in those two grades, regardless of the presence of high-point friction. Ignoring other attributes like toning, originality, or other forms of surface damage, a coin in MS64 with superficial friction is visibly superior to a coin in AU58. Sometimes a coin in grades like MS61 or MS62 might have some actual rub from fingers, but those coins are still superior to coins in AU58 in terms of degree of wear. There also isn’t really a problem with a low MS coin having a little rub, because, again, the AU/MS line is not literal, since MS67 coins can be circulated - we subjectively decide where to draw that line.

    Ok, why am I making this point? Well, what is the job of a grading service, really? At the most basic level, its purpose is to delineate condition. By breaking down condition into little ranges (since no two coins are identical, XF40 must be a range of conditions, as must be MS63, as must be every other grade except 70), collectors and dealers may establish market value as they see fit, as well as rank these coins against each other in registry sets. It is important that a 64 with minute friction be differentiated from the 58 with legitimate wear, because collectors and dealers would generally find the 64 to be significantly different and preferable.

    The job of the grading services, regardless of what some might insist, is also not to rank value. There are vibrantly toned Morgans in 64 that are worth more than average 66 examples. There are hammered medieval coins in MS63 with pancake strikes that are worth less than examples in XF45 with bold strikes. There are wholesome, original AU58s that are worth more than dipped out MS62s with heavy marks. When the grading services rank these coins in this way, they are doing the opposite of so-called “market grading” - they are ranking condition.

    The optimal grading scale thus should be the one that provides the most useful delineations of condition, so that collectors and dealers may group coins into meaningful categories. When other factors are at play that are individual to particular coins (toning, originality, contact marks, strike), those can be factored into pricing by the marketplace - but there should a be a meaningful and useful base ranking of condition involved.

    Now, since the line between AU and MS is one that humans must decide, a grading service like CACG is perfectly within its rights to take a stringent approach and state that any friction at all is deserving of an AU grade. But ultimately, even if in their mind they are being “technical” (they aren’t, but it doesn’t matter), this erodes the delineations of the current system, and thus the scale’s usefulness. The CACG approach essentially broadens the 58 grade to encapsulate coins ranging up to 65 on the PCGS/NGC scales. And since these coins do in fact make up a very wide range of conditions, the grading scale no longer serves its primary function as a delineator of condition. If some think it’s annoying that wholesome 58s are preferable to 62s with no wear but distracting surface issues, imagine how annoying that problem becomes when current 65s are to brought down to the 58 grade, and are still ranked below those 62s.

    In sum, I think this is ultimately an attempt, and perhaps a dated one, to be literal or technical about the AU/MS line, when a) the AU/MS line is not and could never be literal, and b) grading scales are ultimately useful if they properly delineate condition, which this approach fails to properly do. It doesn’t really matter where the AU/MS line is drawn, as long as it is a useful line that preserves delineation of condition. But with this system, collectors and dealers are forced to distinguish the “PCGS/NGC 64” condition coins from the “true 58” condition coins within the AU58 grade, which means that the assigned grade of 58 serves little purpose and such coins may as well not be in slabs all. Eventually, there might even be some pushback in the marketplace and the CACG 58 grade would need to be broken up once again - meaning either back to something approaching the current system, or on to something else entirely.

    Ultimately, the collecting community as a whole is welcome to choose whichever version of the grading scale that they would prefer, and I think it is highly unlikely that the existence of CACG will result in a redefinition of standards at the two main TPGs. Personally, I’ll stick with the scale that I find to have the most practical use.

    There is a difference between a theoretical definition and an operational definition. Since we cannot ascertain any coin’s entire history, we can only use an operational definition on what we see. Friction is wear. Claiming an ability to consistently distinguish between friction from counting tables versus the earliest signs of commercial wear seems unrealistic to me. I thought the services in establishing grading standards were purportedly relying on their interpretation of the Sheldon scale when in practice they are not. The various grading approaches including market grading are attempting to put a band aid on the problem rather than finding a true solution.

    You could reasonably argue that the original sin in coin grading was placing so much emphasis on wear/friction. I suppose the rationale was the removal of metal was bad and that wear was visible to the naked eye. Modern instrumental analysis would suggest at the molecular level loss of metal can happen from abrasions and contact marks. It all comes down to degree. Perhaps new grades need to be added at the 60-65 range for coins of equal quality but for faint friction. Many collectors including myself have accepted reality and begun using modifiers like AU62. We could also try to get away from the notion many have (exacerbated by the registries) that a higher label number should invariably sell for more than “lesser” grades. Perhaps better yet, a new scale could be created akin EAC grading where every coin starts with the highest grade and is then reduced for faults whether from friction or contact marks.

    Unfortunately we do not (yet) have that scale. Forcing coins with wear into MS holders- terms borrowed from Sheldon which was understood to mean no wear - is disingenuous, and it creates confusion in the market.

  • RexfordRexford Posts: 1,113 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 14, 2024 8:04AM

    @cameonut2011 said:

    @Rexford said:

    @CaptHenway said:
    "The term "Uncirculated," interchangeable with "Mint State," refers to a coin which has never seen circulation. Such a piece has no wear of any kind...."

    Literalist that I am, I interpreted this to mean that coins with wear on them did not qualify for a Mint State grade. It did not say "Such a piece has no wear of any kind, except on the high points from counting tables which doesn't count." These coins had WEAR on them, so they were not "Mint State." I still believe that that is true.

    Not wanting to knock them down to the highest AU grade in the book, AU-55, I created the AU-58 grade for coins that probably had never seen commercial circulation, but which nevertheless had WEAR on them. I still believe that this is appropriate.

    TD

    And how exactly does one determine that a coin has never circulated? You can pick modern Shield cents out of pocket change in MS67, with zero high-point friction, if you wish. Those coins have circulated. And what defines a complete lack of circulation, in a literal sense? Are only coins that have been plucked directly from the mint uncirculated, such as Mint Sets, bags, or rolls? If a literalist approach were actually employed (assuming omniscience regarding whether a coin has circulated), there would be exceedingly few US coins from, say, pre-1850, that would technically qualify as MS.

    “Uncirculated”, if taken literally, would not be a measure of condition, but a statement that a coin has not seen circulation. A coin could theoretically be buried underground or in a shipwreck before seeing circulation and the surfaces subsequently corrode down to the point that it would be presently called VF details. That coin is still “Uncirculated” in a literal sense. Or I could take a coin from a Mint Set and wear it down in my pocket without placing it in circulation. Should those coins be called MS?

    To respond with another essay:

    “Mint State”, as presently employed, is instead used to describe a particular condition of a coin, and is used with the understanding that it is not in fact literal. Now, since a literal approach to “Uncirculated” is both pointless and impossible, the threshold of AU and MS is one that must be decided by humans. The two major grading services’ response to this question can be generalized as the presence of high-point “color-change”, which is a degree of friction to the point that luster is broken and there is notable dullness. This is because for a coin to reach that point of legitimate high-point “color-change”, it generally must have been handled by fingers. A coin with mild high-point friction (let’s say, an average WLH in MS62) might not have actually circulated - that friction could be from stacking against other coins or banging around in a bag.

    Now, whether some in this thread would admit it or not, there is a clear difference in the quality between the average PCGS/NGC AU58 with legitimate high-point dullness, and a PCGS/NGC MS64 with mild high-point friction. If there weren’t a difference, graders would not be able to distinguish the conditions of those coins and they would be randomly placed between AU58 and MS64 grades (and remember, graders have to consistently line up with each other). The average collector and dealer also generally has a fairly easy time telling the difference between coins in those two grades, regardless of the presence of high-point friction. Ignoring other attributes like toning, originality, or other forms of surface damage, a coin in MS64 with superficial friction is visibly superior to a coin in AU58. Sometimes a coin in grades like MS61 or MS62 might have some actual rub from fingers, but those coins are still superior to coins in AU58 in terms of degree of wear. There also isn’t really a problem with a low MS coin having a little rub, because, again, the AU/MS line is not literal, since MS67 coins can be circulated - we subjectively decide where to draw that line.

    Ok, why am I making this point? Well, what is the job of a grading service, really? At the most basic level, its purpose is to delineate condition. By breaking down condition into little ranges (since no two coins are identical, XF40 must be a range of conditions, as must be MS63, as must be every other grade except 70), collectors and dealers may establish market value as they see fit, as well as rank these coins against each other in registry sets. It is important that a 64 with minute friction be differentiated from the 58 with legitimate wear, because collectors and dealers would generally find the 64 to be significantly different and preferable.

    The job of the grading services, regardless of what some might insist, is also not to rank value. There are vibrantly toned Morgans in 64 that are worth more than average 66 examples. There are hammered medieval coins in MS63 with pancake strikes that are worth less than examples in XF45 with bold strikes. There are wholesome, original AU58s that are worth more than dipped out MS62s with heavy marks. When the grading services rank these coins in this way, they are doing the opposite of so-called “market grading” - they are ranking condition.

    The optimal grading scale thus should be the one that provides the most useful delineations of condition, so that collectors and dealers may group coins into meaningful categories. When other factors are at play that are individual to particular coins (toning, originality, contact marks, strike), those can be factored into pricing by the marketplace - but there should a be a meaningful and useful base ranking of condition involved.

    Now, since the line between AU and MS is one that humans must decide, a grading service like CACG is perfectly within its rights to take a stringent approach and state that any friction at all is deserving of an AU grade. But ultimately, even if in their mind they are being “technical” (they aren’t, but it doesn’t matter), this erodes the delineations of the current system, and thus the scale’s usefulness. The CACG approach essentially broadens the 58 grade to encapsulate coins ranging up to 65 on the PCGS/NGC scales. And since these coins do in fact make up a very wide range of conditions, the grading scale no longer serves its primary function as a delineator of condition. If some think it’s annoying that wholesome 58s are preferable to 62s with no wear but distracting surface issues, imagine how annoying that problem becomes when current 65s are to brought down to the 58 grade, and are still ranked below those 62s.

    In sum, I think this is ultimately an attempt, and perhaps a dated one, to be literal or technical about the AU/MS line, when a) the AU/MS line is not and could never be literal, and b) grading scales are ultimately useful if they properly delineate condition, which this approach fails to properly do. It doesn’t really matter where the AU/MS line is drawn, as long as it is a useful line that preserves delineation of condition. But with this system, collectors and dealers are forced to distinguish the “PCGS/NGC 64” condition coins from the “true 58” condition coins within the AU58 grade, which means that the assigned grade of 58 serves little purpose and such coins may as well not be in slabs all. Eventually, there might even be some pushback in the marketplace and the CACG 58 grade would need to be broken up once again - meaning either back to something approaching the current system, or on to something else entirely.

    Ultimately, the collecting community as a whole is welcome to choose whichever version of the grading scale that they would prefer, and I think it is highly unlikely that the existence of CACG will result in a redefinition of standards at the two main TPGs. Personally, I’ll stick with the scale that I find to have the most practical use.

    There is a difference between a theoretical definition and an operational definition. Since we cannot ascertain any coin’s entire history, we can only use an operational definition on what we see. Friction is wear. Claiming an ability to consistently distinguish between friction from counting tables versus the earliest signs of commercial wear seems unrealistic to me. I thought the services in establishing grading standards were purportedly relying on their interpretation of the Sheldon scale when in practice they are not. The various grading approaches including market grading are attempting to put a band aid on the problem rather than finding a true solution.

    You could reasonably argue that the original sin in coin grading was placing so much emphasis on wear/friction. I suppose the rationale was the removal of metal was bad and that wear was visible to the naked eye. Modern instrumental analysis would suggest at the molecular level loss of metal can happen from abrasions and contact marks. It all comes down to degree. Perhaps new grades need to be added at the 60-65 range for coins of equal quality but for faint friction. Many collectors including myself have accepted reality and begun using modifiers like AU62. We could also try to get away from the notion many have (exacerbated by the registries) that a higher label number should invariably sell for more than “lesser” grades. Perhaps better yet, a new scale could be created akin EAC grading where every coin starts with the highest grade and is then reduced for faults whether from friction or contact marks.

    Unfortunately we do not (yet) have that scale. Forcing coins with wear into MS holders- terms borrowed from Sheldon which was understood to mean no wear - is disingenuous, and it creates confusion in the market.

    1) I don’t see the current system as putting a bandaid on a problem or not finding a true solution, because I don’t see there being a problem to begin with. The grading services rank condition, which is the thing that should actually matter. We cannot objectively know whether a coin has seen circulation, and we don’t need to know that. There are plenty of technically circulated coins that do not have wear. A coin doesn’t pick up visible friction in one transaction. Those coins aren’t less desirable than coins in the same Gem or Superb Gem grades that truly never saw circulation.

    2) I don’t think the Sheldon scale has ever seriously been put in use in a way that any coin with any form of friction is an automatic 58. Not in the beginning of the grading services, not when the scale was developed - never. That’s a myth. Even if it were though, it wouldn’t matter - we’ve moved on from that impracticality. The original Sheldon and ANA standards are outdated in many ways - circulated coins were ranked more on detail (full LIBERTY, etc) than true wear, for example.

    3) It doesn’t matter if the light friction in a 62 grade is from stacking or from fingers - the point is that it doesn’t have the “color-change” of an AU grade and is superior to coins graded AU, so it should be ranked higher. The AU/MS threshold has been established as when friction becomes dullness, which makes sense, because that pretty much necessitates rub from use in circulation.

    If someone would like to establish a grading services that calls coins AU62, I see less of an issue with that than the current CACG approach, but I question whether we really need to add more grades to the scale.

  • cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 10,055 ✭✭✭✭✭

    If there is no problem, why has there been so much grade inflation and why do we need CAC to begin with? Something changed. Once we play begin watering down the scale but using the same grades, distrust and confusion result.

  • scubafuelscubafuel Posts: 1,715 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Rexford this is all well articulated, and I’m not sure why you’re getting so much push back in various threads.

    I would like the tpgs to provide the best information possible as to how each coin measures up to the others in each category, and how much it differs from the “just off the presses” ideal in that category.

    Making one grade level significantly larger at the expense of 3-4 grade levels gives me less information, not more. And I t’s not enough to just give some coins a +.

    It’s not just ok, but necessary for grading systems to evolve as more coins are seen and ranked by graders and collectors.

  • cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 10,055 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Evolution is fine, but the nomenclature must be updated to reflect this. Grading coins as “A” and “”B” and then changing the scale such that some “B” coins are now “A” coins, the meaning of “A” and “B” become lost based on the label grade. A standardless standard is no standard at all. I’m all for creating a new scale, but we need to be transparent about it.

  • cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 10,055 ✭✭✭✭✭

    On another note, I am glad that I started this thread. While it did not take the turn I had contemplated, it turned into an excellent discussion that I have enjoyed. Thank you to everyone who contributed.

  • oldabeintxoldabeintx Posts: 1,564 ✭✭✭✭✭

    IMO we can only ask a numeric grade to do so much information-wise. One thing I believe we all agree on is that it should indicate relative surface preservation. If a coin has few marks and shows no abrasion or dulling whatsoever in the fields, it seems misleading to reduce it several grades for minor high point abrasion, however caused. Focusing on the use of the (unfortunate) term "Uncirculated" and applying a little common sense, to suggest that a coin with slight high point wear is now "circulated" defies that common sense IMO. How might a coin that has been "circulated" avoid field hits or dulling, edge wear (in addition to high points) and only show evidence on knees and such? Sure, "circulating" a coin in your pants pocket for 90 days might show high point wear, but how many coins have had such an existence? As a member of the "market" I'm not so sure "market acceptable" is a bad thing (devils advocacy here).

  • @Rexford
    @CaptHenway

    This is a terrific discussion. I started a thread asking for stories here and this grading history is perfect. Thank you! There is a member who I follow on Coin talk (Insider) who also worked with the Catain at ANACS and he has also posted about the "old days." He is banned here yet I still run across some of his old posts on CU while researching the grading discussions. The Captain shoud write a book so his experience is not lost.

    Rexford and I have been having a fun debate last week that I will continue here when I get the time to read the entire thread agan and digest it. However, for now I'll write a short tease from my prospective as a long time ex-lurking "sponge" for ideas and information. Remember, nothing new is under the sun. From my reading I have discovered that most of our questions have been answered by another numismatist in the past. This is just another of them: "And how exactly does one determine that a coin has never circulated?"

    I cannot remember how long ago this question was answered for me but anyone under the age of fifty was not yet born. I expect that might include both of the members above and many reading this. The term "Uncirculated" is a poor term to use for new coins. "Mint State" is better. No one should care what happend to a coin before they get it into their hand. They cannot know because "they were not there." I think Bill Fivaz came up with that answer. Rex just made that point.

    Coins are tough. 100% MS coins can be pulled from circulation (pocket change) after they left the Mint. Then, as soon as they are placed in an album or sent to a TPGS, they are graded MS-something (I copied this term from another poster). Therefore, it does not matter if the coin circulated or not (uncirculated) and the determination is simple: WHO CARES as long as the coin remained in Full Mint State condition as nice as when it left the dies!

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,162 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 17, 2024 10:45AM

    Is it possible that Rex and Captain could agree for a coin series about the presence of wear/rub/friction ?

    If THEY can't....how can a novice grader like me hope to ? :o

  • BryceMBryceM Posts: 11,685 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 17, 2024 1:29PM

    The good Captain's post is excellent! "Cabinet friction" to me is a ridiculous, contrived, placating term that arose in an attempt to sidestep the enormous perceived loss of esteem (and value) that happens when a coin slips from the lofty realm of "uncirculated" to the lowly gutter-trash heap of "circulated." A coin either has wear or it doesn't. How it happened is irrelevant. If you can see it, it's an AU coin, at best. If it's hard to see, it's an AU58 coin. If anyone can see it, it's probably an AU55 coin.

    Of course, that's how I see the world. Obviously, current grading "standards" allow visible wear all the way up to MS62, and occasionally MS63.

    The deep mental chasm between uncirculated and circulated is way wider than it should be. It's pretty easy to like many AU58 coins and it's pretty hard to like many MS60-62 coins. That little quirky part of our grading "standards" is responsible for much of the silliness that is seen between AU58-MS62 currently.

  • jacrispiesjacrispies Posts: 669 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I agree with the terms of light "cabinet friction" or rub on the high points is an automatic AU-58. Hopefully CACG develops a keen eye for determining what is strike weakness and wear. I've seen some clear Mint State Walking halves with zero rub and a weak strike that was determined to be a CACG AU-58.

    @CaptHenway I have a fun question. Why did you choose AU-58 instead of AU-57? Or AU-57.5?

    "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" Romans 6:23. Young fellow suffering from Bust Half fever.

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,436 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jacrispies said:
    I agree with the terms of light "cabinet friction" or rub on the high points is an automatic AU-58. Hopefully CACG develops a keen eye for determining what is strike weakness and wear. I've seen some clear Mint State Walking halves with zero rub and a weak strike that was determined to be a CACG AU-58.

    @CaptHenway I have a fun question. Why did you choose AU-58 instead of AU-57? Or AU-57.5?

    I had previously chosen MS-63 because it was more than halfway between MS-60 and MS-65, and I wanted the new grade to be significantly better than the 60. Conversely, I went with MS-67 because the MS-70 grade looked virtually unobtainable, so 67 did look obtainable and besides it gave me two two-point steps (63-65-67) and I liked the symmetry.

    Therefore, 58 was significantly higher than 55, and closer to 60 than to 55 but just not quite there.

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • jacrispiesjacrispies Posts: 669 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Makes sense!

    "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" Romans 6:23. Young fellow suffering from Bust Half fever.

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,293 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @cameonut2011 said:
    If there is no problem, why has there been so much grade inflation and why do we need CAC to begin with? Something changed. Once we play begin watering down the scale but using the same grades, distrust and confusion result.

    CAC is NOT about grade inflation. Whether they are all 63 or 64 or 65, there is going to be a distribution of coins in the grade.

  • privatecoinprivatecoin Posts: 3,140 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jacrispies said:
    I agree with the terms of light "cabinet friction" or rub on the high points is an automatic AU-58. Hopefully CACG develops a keen eye for determining what is strike weakness and wear. I've seen some clear Mint State Walking halves with zero rub and a weak strike that was determined to be a CACG AU-58.

    @CaptHenway I have a fun question. Why did you choose AU-58 instead of AU-57? Or AU-57.5?

    Light rub? Why not AU58+?

    Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value. Zero. Voltaire. Ebay coinbowlllc

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,162 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 17, 2024 4:00PM

    @jacrispies said:
    I agree with the terms of light "cabinet friction" or rub on the high points is an automatic AU-58. Hopefully CACG >develops a keen eye for determining what is strike weakness and wear. I've seen some clear Mint State Walking >halves with zero rub and a weak strike that was determined to be a CACG AU-58.

    But we're back to Square One: are we talking DEFINITIVE rub/wear/friction....or just the APPEARANCE of rub/wear/friction.....because of weak strike or other "defects" that can create the APPEARANCE of wear ??

  • jacrispiesjacrispies Posts: 669 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @GoldFinger1969 said:

    @jacrispies said:
    I agree with the terms of light "cabinet friction" or rub on the high points is an automatic AU-58. Hopefully CACG >develops a keen eye for determining what is strike weakness and wear. I've seen some clear Mint State Walking >halves with zero rub and a weak strike that was determined to be a CACG AU-58.

    But we're back to Square One: are we talking DEFINITIVE rub/wear/friction....or just the APPEARANCE of rub/wear/friction.....because of weak strike or other "defects" that can create the APPEARANCE of wear ??

    Any wear is definitive wear. A weak strike is NOT wear. In a perfect technical grading world, a Superb Gem could have a pancake strike. Since the TPGs are trying to have the grade assigned reflect the value of the item with subjective market grading standards, they knock it to a 64.

    The line CAN be drawn with wear/no wear, that is objective. The line CANNOT be drawn with eye appeal i.e. a weaker strike. Net grading is used for eye appeal and other subjective issues.

    If a coin simply has a weak strike and gets knocked for wear, that was an inexperienced grader who examined the coin.

    "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" Romans 6:23. Young fellow suffering from Bust Half fever.

  • @CaptHenway I have a fun question. Why did you choose AU-58 instead of AU-57? Or AU-57.5?

    I had previously chosen MS-63 because it was more than halfway between MS-60 and MS-65, and I wanted the new grade to be significantly better than the 60. Conversely, I went with MS-67 because the MS-70 grade looked virtually unobtainable, so 67 did look obtainable and besides it gave me two two-point steps (63-65-67) and I liked the symmetry.

    Therefore, 58 was significantly higher than 55, and closer to 60 than to 55 but just not quite there.

    I always wondered what numismatist would be bold enought to claim they "invented" the Au-58, MS-63, and MS-67 grades. CaptHenway is to be congratulated for this important contribution to our grading system! When I learned how to grade there was only MS-60 (uncirculated) , MS-65 (choice uncirculated), and MS-70 (perfect uncirculated); but MS-70 coins did not exist!

Leave a Comment

BoldItalicStrikethroughOrdered listUnordered list
Emoji
Image
Align leftAlign centerAlign rightToggle HTML viewToggle full pageToggle lights
Drop image/file