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The first "70" coin ever certified.

CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,563 ✭✭✭✭✭

In a thread elsewhere about old ANACS certificates, somebody asked what was the first "70" coin you ever saw. The person responding cited a 1986 commemorative coin, but it was not the first "70" coin ever certified by ANACS. Here are my comments in that thread, expanded somewhat here.

First of all you must remember that the "Official ANA Grading Standards for United States Coins" book was very strict as to what qualified for an MS-70 or a PF-70 grade. The coin had to be literally perfect. The fact that so few pre-modern era coins are literally perfect is why I invented the MS-63 and PF-63 and MS-67 and PF-67 grades before opening the grading service for business on March 1, 1979.

Somewhere very early in the 1980's a very large numismatic firm in New England (which is, to the best of my knowledge, no longer in business) submitted a Proof $20 Saint for grading. I think it was a 1912, but I am not sure. The thing appeared to be flawless, and I searched it for any reason not to call it a PF-70/70. I could not find one. The coin was, by the Official ANA Grading Standards definition, a PF-70. So, we certified it as a PF-70/70 and returned it. As I recall it came in a Capital Plastics holder, and I personally put it back in the holder to keep it flawless before giving it to the shipping department.

A couple of months later I was looking through one of this firm's auction catalogues, and there was the coin, graded by them as Proof-69, with no mention of the ANACS PF-70/70 certificate. I thought this was very strange.

Then, a few months after that, I was teaching an ANA Summer Seminar Grading Class and discovered that one of my students was one of the higher ranking numismatists with this firm. I waited until after the class was over for the day and asked him point blank why in the heck had they ignored the PF-70/70 ANACS certificate and catalogued it as "only" a PF-69?

He said that the firm had never seen a 70 coin before, and that they were afraid that if they catalogued it as a Proof-70 nobody would believe them, even though they had the ANACS certificate!!! I sighed.

I suppose in hindsight we should have issued a press release, with the submitter's permission, when we graded the first "70" coin, but it never occurred to me.

TD

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.

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    FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,857 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very cool! Has the coin surfaced since then?

    Young Numismatist, Coin Photographer.

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    CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,563 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @FlyingAl said:
    Very cool! Has the coin surfaced since then?

    I did not keep an eye out for it.

    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.
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    braddickbraddick Posts: 23,127 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That is amazing.
    I bet it was an absolute beauty.

    I wish we could see it today and I do wonder where it is after all these years.

    peacockcoins

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    FrazFraz Posts: 1,863 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Stories are good.

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    mark_dakmark_dak Posts: 1,095 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That's quite an interesting story. as other have stated, it would be great to know what happened to it once you lost the coin's trail.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Mark

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    CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,563 ✭✭✭✭✭

    What’s the highest grade Proof Saint in the pop reports?

    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.
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    MFeldMFeld Posts: 12,056 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway said:
    What’s the highest grade Proof Saint in the pop reports?

    Proof 69

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

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    MFeldMFeld Posts: 12,056 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 21, 2024 3:59PM

    Duplicate post deleted

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

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    WinLoseWinWinLoseWin Posts: 1,481 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The highest PCGS grade is a single Proof-68 for 1910 and NGC has a single Proof-69 for 1909 along with over a dozen in Proof-68 across various dates.

    Maybe it is still sitting raw somewhere or expereinced just enough handling pre-slabbing to lower the grade a notch. Could also be one of those later messed with that I have seen some reference as happening to Matte Proof gold in the last few decades.

    Think I know the company you are referring to, New England Rare Coin Auctions. Only looked at a couple of catalogs from 1980 and found a 1910 they called 69+ and the Ex-Garrett 1912 graded as 69. Did not check if there were other possibilities for after 1980.

    "To Be Esteemed Be Useful" - 1792 Birch Cent --- "I personally think we developed language because of our deep need to complain." - Lily Tomlin

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    What a fascinating piece of numismatic history. You sir, are a living numismatic legend as far as I’m concerned. I know you didn’t contribute this post for accolades, but I can say without any hesitation, that after literally thousands of hours on the bourse from tiny to magnificent, and in smoky back rooms, few tales have captured my imagination - and filled a knowledge hole I didn’t know I had - like yours just did. Thank you sincerely.

    Having fun while switching things up and focusing on a next level PCGS slabbed 1950+ type set, while still looking for great examples for the 7070.

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    Insider3Insider3 Posts: 260 ✭✭✭

    At the time Tom is talking about any '70 was considered not to exist. The grade was very slow to catch on. Nevertheless PR-70's actually existed back then. When I worked for PCI, in the 90's we never used the grade although many of the Silver Eagles and '50 era Proofs were perfect - even under my microscope! This continued at NGC because it was believed a perfect coin did not exist. Tom may be correct that ANACS was the first service to use the 70 grade and PCGS was possibly the next. NGC was late to the 70 game. In my experience, Perfect MS/PR-70's exist in large numbers. It is amazing to me how so many large coins are perfect (Daniel Carr's issues have a better percentage than any world Mint). Unfortunately not all coins slabbed as 70's BY ANYONE actually are. Buyer beware. ;)

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    @Insider3 said:
    Unfortunately not all coins slabbed as 70's BY ANYONE actually are. Buyer beware. ;)

    This is all too true. If you look at enough 70’s it won’t take terribly long to see one after another that has imperfections. And that’s without magnification. It’s the reason I can never justify the often high accompanying prices 70’s often command. Especially when I’ve seen almost as many “perfect” 69’s as I’ve seen imperfect 70’s.

    I think it would be fair to say the proliferation of ASE collectors is what blew the 70 game wide open. That and late 90’s / early 00’s modern commemoratives. Those series created a lottery of sort that could yield some pretty impressive, albeit arguably insane, returns. I thank you for pointing out the high quality of 1950’s proofs. I knew they could be primo, but I had no idea you guys were seeing such perfection in them.

    Having fun while switching things up and focusing on a next level PCGS slabbed 1950+ type set, while still looking for great examples for the 7070.

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    jt88jt88 Posts: 2,838 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Interesting story

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    RobertScotLoverRobertScotLover Posts: 615 ✭✭✭✭

    Fascinating and enjoyable story

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    MrEurekaMrEureka Posts: 23,947 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 21, 2024 8:07PM

    @WinLoseWin said:
    The highest PCGS grade is a single Proof-68 for 1910 and NGC has a single Proof-69 for 1909 along with over a dozen in Proof-68 across various dates.

    Maybe it is still sitting raw somewhere or expereinced just enough handling pre-slabbing to lower the grade a notch. Could also be one of those later messed with that I have seen some reference as happening to Matte Proof gold in the last few decades.

    Think I know the company you are referring to, New England Rare Coin Auctions. Only looked at a couple of catalogs from 1980 and found a 1910 they called 69+ and the Ex-Garrett 1912 graded as 69. Did not check if there were other possibilities for after 1980.

    I actually remember the 1910, which was sold right at the top of the market. It blew me away at the time, as did the price realized. I suspect that's the coin, although it's hard to imagine Tom incorrectly remembering a Roman finish 1910 for a 1912 matte proof.

    Andy Lustig

    Doggedly collecting coins of the Central American Republic.

    Visit the Society of US Pattern Collectors at USPatterns.com.
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    divecchiadivecchia Posts: 6,528 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great story for sure. Enjoyed it immensely.

    Thanks for sharing it.

    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)
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    CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,563 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MrEureka said:

    @WinLoseWin said:
    The highest PCGS grade is a single Proof-68 for 1910 and NGC has a single Proof-69 for 1909 along with over a dozen in Proof-68 across various dates.

    Maybe it is still sitting raw somewhere or expereinced just enough handling pre-slabbing to lower the grade a notch. Could also be one of those later messed with that I have seen some reference as happening to Matte Proof gold in the last few decades.

    Think I know the company you are referring to, New England Rare Coin Auctions. Only looked at a couple of catalogs from 1980 and found a 1910 they called 69+ and the Ex-Garrett 1912 graded as 69. Did not check if there were other possibilities for after 1980.

    I actually remember the 1910, which was sold right at the top of the market. It blew me away at the time, as did the price realized. I suspect that's the coin, although it's hard to imagine Tom incorrectly remembering a Roman finish 1910 for a 1912 matte proof.

    Might have been the 1910. I was sure that it was in the 1910 and up range, but I was guessing at the exact year. We handled several Garrett pieces and I know that no pedigree was attached to the piece, so I doubt it was that one.

    We did not specify the finishes on 1908-1915 Proof gold, so I had no reason to look it up and/or remember it.

    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.
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    knovak1976knovak1976 Posts: 222 ✭✭✭

    I’ve always wondered why the number 70 became the magic ‘perfect’ coin standard and not 100? Same as why a C is a perfect diamond clarity and not an A? Why a ‘point’ in tennis is 15 and not 1? In football (American) a touchdown is 6 points and not 1? Hmmmmmm, the things that fill my mind….😉

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    MaywoodMaywood Posts: 1,900 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The football one is easy, because an extra point is one point, a safety is two points and a field goal is three points.

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    Insider3Insider3 Posts: 260 ✭✭✭

    @knovak1976 said:
    I’ve always wondered why the number 70 became the magic ‘perfect’ coin standard and not 100? Same as why a C is a perfect diamond clarity and not an A? Why a ‘point’ in tennis is 15 and not 1? In football (American) a touchdown is 6 points and not 1? Hmmmmmm, the things that fill my mind….😉

    It's because that's the way it is. BTW, I like the way you think. ;)

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    bennybravobennybravo Posts: 1,868 ✭✭✭

    Very interesting read. Thanks for posting this. It's something I for one never thought about.

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    SwampboySwampboy Posts: 12,886 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for this informative peek into the history of coin grading Tom.

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    FrazFraz Posts: 1,863 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 22, 2024 1:25PM

    Earlier stupid post gone.

    This foreshadows the lax application of terminology by the newmismatists on eBay.

    @CaptHenway said:
    Before I went to the ANA I worked at Coin World, where for a while I was the unofficial staff numismatist for U.S. coins. One day the advertising manager came to me with some advertising copy for a full page ad by one of the regular advertisers who specialized in silver dollars. Sheldon grading numbers were slowly becoming more and more common in dealers' ads, and this ad contained numerous dollars graded "MS-90!!!" Together we conference called the guy and he basically said "Well, my coins are nicer than everybody else's!" I explained the Sheldon system to him, and the ad manager told him that the ad would not be printed. He behaved after that.

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    knovak1976knovak1976 Posts: 222 ✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway said:

    @knovak1976 said:
    I’ve always wondered why the number 70 became the magic ‘perfect’ coin standard and not 100? Same as why a C is a perfect diamond clarity and not an A? Why a ‘point’ in tennis is 15 and not 1? In football (American) a touchdown is 6 points and not 1? Hmmmmmm, the things that fill my mind….😉

    The Sheldon system was created using the approximate value of a common variety 1794 Large Cent in the various grades in the years right after World War 2. Using auction record averages, he calculated that a Good coin was worth $4, a Very Good coin $8, a Fine coin $12, a Very Fine coin $20 to $30, etc. An average Mint State coin was worth $60, and a nicer one $65. I can't imagine that there were too many "perfect" 1794 Large Cents around at that time, but he (perhaps unwisely) decided that they were worth $70 to round out his system, so the numerical value of a perfect coin became an "MS-70."

    Thanks for the information! Good thing he didn’t have a coin worth $147.13……Lol

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    knovak1976knovak1976 Posts: 222 ✭✭✭

    @Maywood said:
    The football one is easy, because an extra point is one point, a safety is two points and a field goal is three point

    But where is the 4 and 5?? 🤔😉

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    RexfordRexford Posts: 1,140 ✭✭✭✭✭

    There are zero coins struck for circulation that are currently graded MS70 by either PCGS or NGC. There are zero coins that have been graded PR70 by either PCGS or NGC from prior to the year 1960. It would seem that the PCGS and NGC standards for the grade are thus stricter than the “literally perfect” ANACS standards for the grade.

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    Clackamas1Clackamas1 Posts: 770 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @knovak1976 said:
    I’ve always wondered why the number 70 became the magic ‘perfect’ coin standard and not 100? Same as why a C is a perfect diamond clarity and not an A? Why a ‘point’ in tennis is 15 and not 1? In football (American) a touchdown is 6 points and not 1? Hmmmmmm, the things that fill my mind….😉

    There are 10 chains in a furlong, and 80 chains in one statute mile. 1 Acre = 10 square chains or 43,560 square feet. The furlong (meaning furrow length) was the distance a team of oxen could plough without resting. This was standardised to be exactly 40 rods or 10 chains.

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    BStrauss3BStrauss3 Posts: 3,167 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Go read your history... when Sheldon devised his scale for large cents in 1949, the value of the theoretically perfect 70 coin was about 70x the value of the minimal basal state grade 1 coin

    -----Burton
    ANA 50 year/Life Member (now "Emeritus")
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    CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,563 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Rexford said:
    There are zero coins struck for circulation that are currently graded MS70 by either PCGS or NGC. There are zero coins that have been graded PR70 by either PCGS or NGC from prior to the year 1960. It would seem that the PCGS and NGC standards for the grade are thus stricter than the “literally perfect” ANACS standards for the grade.

    I suspect that the world is afraid of that word "perfect." Especially those parts of the world that have buyback quarantees. We did not have one when I graded that Saint a PF-70/70, but that was my honest learned opinion.

    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.
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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,997 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @braddick said:

    @Insider3 said:

    @knovak1976 said:
    I’ve always wondered why the number 70 became the magic ‘perfect’ coin standard and not 100? Same as why a C is a perfect diamond clarity and not an A? Why a ‘point’ in tennis is 15 and not 1? In football (American) a touchdown is 6 points and not 1? Hmmmmmm, the things that fill my mind….😉

    It's because that's the way it is. BTW, I like the way you think. ;)

    Yep.
    Why are 12 inches in a foot yet two feet have ten toes?
    (And don't try to Google the answer as I just now made up that question.)

    2 feet is actually twenty inches.

    [Sig figs]

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,997 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @BStrauss3 said:
    Go read your history... when Sheldon devised his scale for large cents in 1949, the value of the theoretically perfect 70 coin was about 70x the value of the minimal basal state grade 1 coin

    The birth of market grading

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    Having missed my calling as a standup comedian, and being a total coin collecting rookie, not worthy of any title. I have a lot of questions about grading. Mostly for the future.....

    When a computer using a scanner and AI starts grading coins, will the majority of crossovers go up or down? Will every Walmart have a coin grader machine called CoinMaster.

    Will Master AI create a new system with a top number of 100? Most important, will it occur in the next 15 years (my self-imposed time left alive)?

    Will Master AI assign a desirability rating based on the thousands of attributes, especially signatures, brillance, a lamination error in the form of a tongue, and so on?

    For example, how many of you have CaptHenway's signature on your Cheerios Dollar clad? It would be worth something to me but will Master AI assign any value to it?

    Why did a PCGS MS67 PLUS get graded down by ANACS, NGC, and ICG? Will Master AI correct this or will it blame the deterioration of the coin while in the clad?

    Are current graders influenced by hangovers? Should grading only be done on a Wednesday after a drug screening?

    Ok, I will stop. All hail AI. AIAIO.

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    CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,563 ✭✭✭✭✭

    AI Carumbah!

    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.
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    braddickbraddick Posts: 23,127 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway said:
    AI Carumbah!

    "AY CARAMBA, a Spanish expression of surprise, was first used by Bart Simpson in 1988. It is his second most common catchphrase behind “Eat my shorts,” according to a Simpsons fan wiki."

    This DID end up being an educational thread after all.

    peacockcoins

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    WinLoseWinWinLoseWin Posts: 1,481 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway , is there any story you can tell about this 1895 Proof Morgan said to be ANACS 70/70 graded in 1982?

    And were there any other big coins in 70/70 that you recall. This 1895 was the only one I had heard of until you mentioned the Proof $20 Gold. Wonder what happened to the certs for many coins back then. I do recall a number of dealers starting to throw them away once slabbing started and some even before. I saved some of mine even after the coin was sold and tried to save few others. Often met with "Why would you want that" and "I'm not going to look for it / dig it out of the trash" or "It's already gone".

    The July 7, 1989 auction listing for Superior's session of Auction '89 says it should grade several points lower. One possible catch is that they said the certificate was misplaced.

    I figure there are a few potential scenarios that could have taken place:

    1 - That it may not have been a Proof-70/70 certificate

    Or if a 70/70 certificate is what existed:

    2 - The coin in the lot did not match the coin on the certificate

    3 - (This would seem most likely to me) The condition of the coin changed after it was graded perhaps from handling or more likely, storage conditions. This is one of the bigger benefits of a slab in that it protects from mishandling, though storage conditions can still create problems but less likely than out of a slab.

    4 - The coin was actually overgraded at ANACS. Seems unlikely to be that far off.

    The prices realized show it as bringing $27,500 while the raw Proof-65 in next lot shows $20,460. The lot after that was an NGC Proof-64 at $29,700.

    https://archive.org/details/auction89featuri1989stac/page/246/mode/2up

    .
    .
    Greysheet for July 7, 1989 showed wholesale bid at $22,500 for Proof-64 and $35,500 for Proof-65.

    .
    .

    "To Be Esteemed Be Useful" - 1792 Birch Cent --- "I personally think we developed language because of our deep need to complain." - Lily Tomlin

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    CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,563 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @WinLoseWin said:

    @CaptHenway , is there any story you can tell about this 1895 Proof Morgan said to be ANACS 70/70 graded in 1982?

    And were there any other big coins in 70/70 that you recall. This 1895 was the only one I had heard of until you mentioned the Proof $20 Gold. Wonder what happened to the certs for many coins back then. I do recall a number of dealers starting to throw them away once slabbing started and some even before. I saved some of mine even after the coin was sold and tried to save few others. Often met with "Why would you want that" and "I'm not going to look for it / dig it out of the trash" or "It's already gone".

    The July 7, 1989 auction listing for Superior's session of Auction '89 says it should grade several points lower. One possible catch is that they said the certificate was misplaced.

    I figure there are a few potential scenarios that could have taken place:

    1 - That it may not have been a Proof-70/70 certificate

    Or if a 70/70 certificate is what existed:

    2 - The coin in the lot did not match the coin on the certificate

    3 - (This would seem most likely to me) The condition of the coin changed after it was graded perhaps from handling or more likely, storage conditions. This is one of the bigger benefits of a slab in that it protects from mishandling, though storage conditions can still create problems but less likely than out of a slab.

    4 - The coin was actually overgraded at ANACS. Seems unlikely to be that far off.

    The prices realized show it as bringing $27,500 while the raw Proof-65 in next lot shows $20,460. The lot after that was an NGC Proof-64 at $29,700.

    https://archive.org/details/auction89featuri1989stac/page/246/mode/2up

    .
    .
    Greysheet for July 7, 1989 showed wholesale bid at $22,500 for Proof-64 and $35,500 for Proof-65.

    .
    .

    I do not remember grading an 1895 Dollar as PF-70/70. It is possible that we did. We saw several 1895 Proof Dollars while I was there, and they were not as memorable as that Proof $20.

    The cert. number is about right for 1982.

    FWIW, for all of the 1980's we could easily have issued a Duplicate or Transfer Certificate for a small fee if the owner requested it. I don't know why somebody would try to auction off a coin as an ANACS PF-70/70 WITHOUT an ANACS certificate when one could easily have obtained a duplicate certificate in less than 10 business days. ANACS did offer slabbing as an option starting in January or February of 1989, but kept the photo certificate option available until ANACS was sold to Amos Press in mid-1990.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/15HpjwR8WyYBLi8H5bRBP7Xfl_dUMMWPB/view

    TD

    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.
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    CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,563 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A funny thing about 1895 Proof Morgans. Many of the ones we saw had a wire rim , or "finning" as the Mint called it, but we saw at least three pieces where the "Finning" had been very expertly removed with a file. Because the flat top of the rim had not been compromised, and because we could not prove that the Philadelphia Mint had not done it (I considered that to be very possible), we ignored it.

    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.

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