- Warren Mills
- Summer 2019
The Art of Grading, or Lack Thereof!
As you all know, I have sounded the alarm on over-graded and cleaned coins being certified for a long time. I wouldn’t mind if they were labeled cleaned, altered or whatever, but these coins are grading straight up! There is no mention of cleaning or damage, etc… John Albanese from CAC has said, “It’s harder to CAC sticker coins in XF and AU than the higher-grade uncs.” I believe him and I have a neat example of this.
Take a look at this 1917-D Standing Liberty Quarter in XF-45 PCGS new holder. First glance, the coin is obviously cleaned and re-toned, strikes one and two! Now the clincher, here is strike 3 in all its glory. The lower left reverse has a CA carved into the field just left of the eagle’s tail! I was hoping that I found a discovery coin for the rare California Mint! Alas, my whole perception of grading coins is shattered. The rare CA Mint never existed and this coin is no more than a cleaned graffiti damaged coin in a holder again graded straight up! You may say, “What’s the big deal? So, what if there are more damaged and cleaned coins in holders than not?” Well what is happening is a diluting effect of pricing due to oversupply of coins that shouldn’t even be in a holder! How’s a novice going to learn how to grade anything?! Why aren’t the finalizers at the services catching these mistakes? Does this mean that we are in the final death knell for the coin market?
There are too many mistakes in holders for services to buy off the market. What a conundrum. At least from here, the services need to take a stand and grade better. Finalizers need to stop rubber stamping invoices through without examining the coins. I might not mind as much, but not one of the 3 graders or finalizer caught what can be seen with the naked eye! This does not bode well for the business.
Partner and owner of Rare Coins of New Hampshire, Inc. since June, 1990 and a full time coin dealer since 1979. Warren is a full member of the Professional Numismatists Guild and a life member of the American Numismatic Association. He was selected by the Rosen Numismatic Advisory as one of the ten leading numismatists in the country for twelve consecutive years. He was selected by PCGS and written up in their newsletter as handling and submitting some of the nicest coins they have ever seen.