I don't disagree too much with NGC on this one. Rather poor strike quality plus the fact that it appears to have spent some time in saltwater hurt the eye appeal I wouldn't disagree that it's still AU.
Planchet defects of a couple types (it looks like the one in the center of the coin goes all the way through) combined with an uneven strike. I don't think I've ever seen an AU coin with a hole that wasn't supposed to be there (granted, it's not PMD).
I guess someone will be pleased to have an AU coin from this reign.
While I've seen a few NGC "MS__" grades recently that have made me laugh... my observation is that some of the grading that presumably comes out of the European outposts of NGC/PCGS strays too much from what you would see at the home offices (usually on the liberal end).
The coin that led off the thread, the AU-55 with a planchet defect so bad you can see daylight through the coin, did sell, but not for much ($38). That's the typical price for a decently struck coin of this type in VF. https://onebid.pl/en/auction/944/lo...cow-NGC-au55
I guess there are limits to eye appeal that even an attractive grade can't overcome