Maybe "professional graders" should be required to research their own organization's registry and archives for comparables?
Here's the closed-sleeve variety of the same token, graded by the same TPG
. Better hair (both sides), better collar-shoulder transition, etc. It's obvious that by definition these were struck from different dies, obverses anyway, but that hardly accounts for a difference of 20 points on the MS scale.
In total agreement with Silver101
, establishing a baseline can be difficult, especially if the grader hasn't handled more than a few of a particular type. I sometimes have the same difficulty myself, over in my little corner of Anglo-Canadian exonumismatics.
To illustrate that, while NGC
's VF-35 here is overall a more "pleasing" example than their putative AU-55 (above) to those of us who collect them, differences in die and strike characteristics can be notable and you end up with wear and flattening in different places. (For example, the bale, and the legend, specifically the thickness and observable flattening of letters...how different were they on the day these two tokens were minted?)
A bunch of us CCF members have had plenty of conversations on this very topic over at the Canadian token collectors' thread. (Not that we're special...just different...
So yes, a lot of variables have to be taken into account with tokens, and I'm imagining -- having seen PhotoGrade books for both US and Canadian coinage -- that things are a bit less complicated for the folks who work at TPGs grading RCM
issues. My guess is that they try to squeeze these idiosyncratic little pieces of copper into their assembly line process and workflow, and for the most part that just doesn't work...not in our best interests, at least.
But the bottom line is that there's no way in heck* the LC-53A I posted earlier today is an AU, NGC
's expensive opinion notwithstanding!
* (Interesting! Just noticed in "Preview" that I got robo-censored by CCF for my use of a different place name here, which was apparently auto-changed to "heck." Drat! I'll try to watch my @#$% language in the future, I promise.)
"I ain't good-looking, but I'm willing to try."
--- Dave "Snaker" Ray: 'It's All Right,' 1963