Home U.S. Coin Forum

50 Years of Numismatic Collecting Experience - Grading Changes, Thoughts & Perspectives

StuartStuart Posts: 9,761 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited October 11, 2017 6:35PM in U.S. Coin Forum

As one of the “Old Timers” who began collecting 50 years ago, prior to TPGS Certified Numerically Graded plastic slabs, here’s my perspective.

There are different goals, objectives and priorities between Collectors enjoying Numismatics as a Hobby/Pastime & Dealers maximizing profit as a Business. Some of those goals are aligned & some aren’t.

When I first started collecting Type Coins & PL/DMPL Morgan Dollars back in the early 1970’s there were only 3 Descriptive grading categories of Mint Sate Coins (UNC/BU, Choice BU & Gem BU) and one Almost Uncirculated (AU) category.

Then Numeric Grading was introduced as an additional descriptor for the 3 above-mentioned grades: MS-60 = UNC/BU, MS-63 = Choice BU & MS-65 = Gem BU. Back then the adjective Brilliant indicated Unspotted & Untoned Superior Eye Appeal & Valuation than “Tarnished” or Toned coins.

As an example the US Govt GSA CC Morgan Dollar Sales beginning in 1970 included 2 descriptive quality categories on their plastic govt issued slabs - One Premium Group marked Uncirculated and a Lesser Quality Group including “Tarnished”, Toned, or other problematic coins without the word Uncirculated on the govt slab. — Back then Brilliant White coins were preferred and valued more than Toned coins.

TPGS Certified Grading was introduced to standardize wildly varying grading standards and to promote Investing in Coins. I suggest the following excellent Scott Travers Oct 1997 Article posted on PCGS’ web site for reference. https://www.pcgs.com/news/wall-streets-move-to-rare-coins

Since the introduction of the TPGS’s in the late 1980’s numismatics has experienced huge price increases and price fluctuations in some of the higher graded coins, focusing much Business attention to them as a vehicle to potentially make large profits certifying Choice to Gem examples, and then Cracking and/or Upgrading Certified coins perceived to be conservatively or undergraded.

Just as the Wall Street Financial marketplace profits from equity price volatility and resulting stock share & bond, etc volume increases, many participants in the Rare Coin Marketplace (Dealers & Collectors) can profit from both Coin Price Volatility & Evolving (Changing) Grading Standards.

As a collector, I prefer to focus my attention on affordable Highly Eye-Appealing, Well-Struck, Lustrous Examples (some Toned & Brilliant) that appeal to me. If they appear undergraded I see that as a buying opportunity - not to crack and flip them for quick profit, but to add them to my collection.

I'd much rather have a fully-struck lustrous ”Gem” AU-58 depicting more of the coin's design, than a weakly struck technically Mint State coin exhibiting less detail (Ref: 1892-CC Morgan Dollar Image below).

Finally, Registry Sets have very significantly affected Numismatics, it can be argued for better or to its detriment. IMO the primary reason that an MS-70 or Proof 70 DCAM Modern coin sells for huge multiples over it’s MS-69 counterpart is based on increased collector demand to compete in Registry Sets. That’s fine if the collector wishes to spend the multiples of money on marginally incremental technical grading - however, that’s not why I collect coins. But to each his own, and if that’s how others enjoy their collecting, similar to competing in Fantasy Football that’s totally up to them.

Thanks for reading this long thread. I’m looking forward to others’ thoughts and comments on the points that I’ve raised. :)

1892-CC PCGS AU-58 Morgan Dollar

Photos courtesy of Mike Printz - Harlan Berk Numismatics


Stuart

Collect 18th & 19th Century US Type Coins, Silver Dollars, $20 Gold Double Eagles and World Crowns & Talers with High Eye Appeal

"Luck is what happens when Preparation meets Opportunity"

Comments

  • amwldcoinamwldcoin Posts: 11,269 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Well thought out post! I have always been the type as a dealer or collector who buys the coin in the highest grade before it takes the big leap...IE....investmet grade coins.

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Excellent post. I would love to see the hobby return to such standards - though it never will. Instead, I collect by my standards (very much as you have outlined) and enjoy my coins as a collector. Cheers, RickO

  • ShadyDaveShadyDave Posts: 2,186 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Since I wasn't born until the late 1980's, this is some great insight and context to have. Thanks.

  • dizzleccdizzlecc Posts: 1,111 ✭✭✭

    50 years of collecting! You must have been around when they started making ancients..... Digital has made a big impact on the hobby. It has opened up the market to a worldwide audience and changed buying and selling patterns. TPG has played a part by providing the confidence level to enable trading without physically viewing the coin. You may agree or disagree with the exact grade but you will know enough to make a buy or pass decision.

  • StuartStuart Posts: 9,761 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 22, 2017 5:25PM

    I thought I’d give this thread one more bump to see if any other forum members would like to comment before it sinks forever into forum oblivion...

    In my humble opinion, it’s one of my better threads... and worth a look just to see the gorgeous 1892-CC Morgan Dollar expertly imaged by a Mike Printz. B)


    Stuart

    Collect 18th & 19th Century US Type Coins, Silver Dollars, $20 Gold Double Eagles and World Crowns & Talers with High Eye Appeal

    "Luck is what happens when Preparation meets Opportunity"
  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Lots of good insights. A keeper for many of us.

  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,479 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thank you for providing us with your insights which are very accurate from my perspective. I’ve been buying coins from dealers since the mid 1960s, and my experience has been quite similar.

    That is one heck of an AU-58 Morgan Dollar. I dare say that one would be hard pressed to find one like it on the market today in an AU-58 holder. Most coins like that were cracked out for upgrades long ago. The only hint of a rub I see is about Ms. Liberty’s ear and on the eagle’s breast feathers. Most coins like that end up graded MS-62 to 64.

    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 ... ?
  • divecchiadivecchia Posts: 6,527 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I collect coins much the way you do. I look for graded coins that meet or exceed the grade and have much of their brilliant luster showing. BUT, I understand the Registry side of it where someone is trying to compete for the top spot and will forgo the quality to get that top pop coin or card (as I sometimes do) if you are like me and competing on a PSA Registry set. Collecting has gotten easier with the TPG (weeding out fakes), but at the same time it's gotten more complicated in deciding how to collect (grade vs. visual appeal).

    Great post. :+1::+1::+1::+1:

    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)
  • PRECIOUSMENTALPRECIOUSMENTAL Posts: 961 ✭✭✭✭

    Great Post, Thank You Stuart.

  • marcmoishmarcmoish Posts: 6,221 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Stuart said:
    I thought I’d give this thread one more bump to see if any other forum members would like to comment before it sinks forever into forum oblivion...

    In my humble opinion, it’s one of my better threads... and worth a look just to see the gorgeous 1892-CC Morgan Dollar expertly imaged by a Mike Printz. B)

    What a great post.....keep it up. :)

  • dpooledpoole Posts: 5,940 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Stuart's been around and knows his stuff.

  • StuartStuart Posts: 9,761 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks to all fellow forum members who have posted your thoughts and your kind words about this thread. :)

    I’m pleased that you’ve found it to be informative and helpful.


    Stuart

    Collect 18th & 19th Century US Type Coins, Silver Dollars, $20 Gold Double Eagles and World Crowns & Talers with High Eye Appeal

    "Luck is what happens when Preparation meets Opportunity"
  • 1630Boston1630Boston Posts: 13,772 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Stuart
    I did not get to post here before now, but I must agree with @divecchia and the others that responded to your post :smile:
    You are quite informative by sharing your life learned education and experience here :smile:
    Thanks

    Successful transactions with : MICHAELDIXON, Manorcourtman, Bochiman, bolivarshagnasty, AUandAG, onlyroosies, chumley, Weiss, jdimmick, BAJJERFAN, gene1978, TJM965, Smittys, GRANDAM, JTHawaii, mainejoe, softparade, derryb

    Bad transactions with : nobody to date

  • BryceMBryceM Posts: 11,729 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Excellent perspectives, and I might add that those who usually post here are probably not representative of the average collector. It's informative to remember that. :)

    Standards come and standards go. Opinions shift around all the time. Influential members of the numismatic community eventually pass away or lose influence. Even the grandest collections are eventually broken up. If well cared for, the coins will outlast us by many lifetimes.

  • WildIdeaWildIdea Posts: 1,875 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 26, 2017 8:41PM

    Thanks for taking the time to share your insight. I'm always open to and all ears when it comes
    to the wisdom of people that have come before me.

    Here's to many more years of collecting!!!

  • WalkerfanWalkerfan Posts: 8,956 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for posting. Yes-I see under-graded coins as a buying opportunity and don’t worry about the crackout game, especially if It’s in a vintage slab. I’ll worry about that if/when I decide to sell.

    “I may not believe in myself but I believe in what I’m doing” ~Jimmy Page~

    My Full Walker Registry Set (1916-1947)

    https://www.ngccoin.com/registry/competitive-sets/16292/

Leave a Comment

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