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Coin Grading Question(S).

 
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Australia
64 Posts
 Posted 06/30/2020  10:26 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add David Graham to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Out of interest I was looking into the murky depths of coin grading. I can see why it is subjective to a degree but in general it makes sense. I do have 2 questions though:
1) The grading system seems to operate on the assumption of overall wear to the coin surface. If I have a coin that has had virtually no loss of detail to the high points but has a nasty scratch on a flat surface, how does that fit into the system?
2) Does the term UNC have any real meaning? I ask because I saw a coin on EBay listed as UNC but an inspection of the picture had me wondering if it was stored in a working rock tumbler. Let's say I buy a hum dinger new coin from the mint and it falls from my pocket as I'm exiting the car. I discover it a week later by which time it's been run over 20 times and is in pretty bad shape . I sell it on ebay as UNC since technically, it has not been in circulation. Am thinking UNC has no real merit.
Thanks
PS Can a mod please move this if it's in the wrong category. I thought I saw a Grading forum a while ago but couldn't find it.
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United States
4096 Posts
 Posted 07/01/2020  12:37 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Adam_E to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
EDIT: In this post I use the term MS and UNC interchangeably, In my mind they mean the same thing, but some other's may disagree. My opinions are also in the framework of the US grading system, it's possible other systems may have different guidelines but I'm not aware of any that do.

1) The grading system seems to operate on the assumption of overall wear to the coin surface. If I have a coin that has had virtually no loss of detail to the high points but has a nasty scratch on a flat surface, how does that fit into the system?

This depends on the severity of the scratch, and the potential reason behind the scratch. If the coin was in the bottom of a 100,000 coin bag, the coin will likely have many extreme scratches, often called bag marks. This coin will get an MS grade, but a low MS grade. Many AU coins will look better than MS-60 or MS-61 coins, but not reach the MS designation because they have discernible wear. However if someone had a MS coin in a flip, and while removing the coin from a flip, accidentally scratched across the surface of a coin with a staple, this coin will likely have an "UNC Details- Scratched" designation from a grading service. In MS coins, the determination of whether or not a coin gets a "details" grade is mostly dependent on whether or not he scratches are the expected result of being in a bag of 100,000 like coins. Scratches of the latter result that I mentioned may get a pass from grading services if the coins is worn, the scratch is old(by this I mean "worn in" with the coin), and if the scratch isn't super distracting. The more worn a coin is, the more acceptable a scratch will be.

2) Does the term UNC have any real meaning? I ask because I saw a coin on EBay listed as UNC but an inspection of the picture had me wondering if it was stored in a working rock tumbler. Let's say I buy a hum dinger new coin from the mint and it falls from my pocket as I'm exiting the car. I discover it a week later by which time it's been run over 20 times and is in pretty bad shape . I sell it on ebay as UNC since technically, it has not been in circulation. Am thinking UNC has no real merit.
Thanks

This depends, a coins that has a lot of scratches may technically be MS, as mentioned before, but I would never, ever trust the designation of UNC from an ebay seller. But not because of the scratches. Ebay sellers are motivated to market coins that are AU/UNC sliders and will likely try to pass off an AU(or even an XF or lower coin that's been polished) coin as an UNC coin by photographing it in deceiving light or even manipulating the photos. An example of what you're talking about would help but generally scratches will not necessarily disqualify a coin from being UNC, especially when talking about lager coins like silver dollars.

Morgan dollars are excellent examples of what you are describing. if you go here: https://www.PCGS.com/photograde#/Morgan/Grades you will see that the MS-60 Graded Morgan is beat to heck but the AU-58 Morgan is comparatively unscathed. In my opinion, even XF morgans are more appealing than that MS-60 or 61 Morgan. When it comes to grading coins wear is the paramount factor in designating grade. scratches or bag marks will onl;y play a factor in determining just how UNC a coins is, or maybe discern whether a coin deserves AU-55 or AU-58.
Edited by Adam_E
07/01/2020 01:05 am
Bedrock of the Community
United States
16651 Posts
 Posted 07/01/2020  04:32 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Conder101 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
1) The grading system seems to operate on the assumption of overall wear to the coin surface. If I have a coin that has had virtually no loss of detail to the high points but has a nasty scratch on a flat surface, how does that fit into the system?

Well you say it has "virtually no wear" that implies that it has at least a little wear. In the ideal world that would mean that it would never grade MS. Now let's address the scratch. In technical grading it wouldn't affect the grade because technical grading is based on wear alone, but the scratch would be mentioned. In Net Grading or Market grading depending on the severity of the scratch either the grade would be reduced based on what the grader feels the value is reduced to by the scratch, or it will receive a details grade based on the grade by wear with no numerical grade assigned, just "Details". Possibly "Details, scratched"


Quote:
2) Does the term UNC have any real meaning?

Yes, it's only real meaning is "No loss of detail by wear." (luster loss from wear is detail loss)

In the example you gave Yes technically the coin you describe is still "Unc" (As long as the cars running over it hasn't caused it to slide on the road surface as that would cause loss of detail by wear.) But by Market or net grading it would grade much lower.
Gary Schmidt
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 Posted 07/01/2020  07:45 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Does the term UNC have any real meaning? I ask because I saw a coin on EBay listed as UNC


UNC means absolutely nothing on eBay (except when I use it ). Unscrupulous sellers know that calling the coin UNC might get a sucker to buy it, or will at least increase the chance of their coin coming up in certain kinds of searches.

There are indeed many well worn coins claimed to be UNC on eBay.
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United States
13612 Posts
 Posted 07/01/2020  09:07 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add T-BOP to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I know this coin is not worn ( well maybe a little ) but this seller is calling it a natural Unc. Maybe when it was first struct with deteriorated rusty dies and looking all red and luster full .
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Valued Member
United States
206 Posts
 Posted 07/01/2020  10:31 am  Show Profile   Check Lancek's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Lancek to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
There really aren't any regs on Ebay as to how terms like Uncirculated or MS are used. However, if a seller uses a number grade, like MS 63, it better have been given that grade by a reputable TPG. That's why you see a lot of sellers write MS++++ on coin flips. Trying to imply it would get a 63 or 64 without actually crossing ebay's line and using a number.
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Australia
64 Posts
 Posted 07/01/2020  6:33 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add David Graham to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the replies.
This is not the coin I was looking at (it was worse) but it still illustrates the pictures. 132962276497
The coin has lots of light scratches plus some deeper scratches. I would have pictured UNC as having some minimal surface scratching but lothing like this specimen.
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United States
16651 Posts
 Posted 07/02/2020  11:02 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Conder101 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Go look at some slabbed Morgan dollars in grades from 62 to 65. You will see LOTS of them with much more severe bag/contact marks of the cheek, neck, and field. The copper nickel alloy on that Australian 50 cent is tougher and less prone to getting bag marks than the softer 90% silver Morgan dollar.
Gary Schmidt
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Australia
13343 Posts
 Posted 07/04/2020  04:44 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
As far as the American TPGs are concerned, scratches do not disqualify a coin from getting an Unc grade, but if they are severe and numerous, sufficient to get the coin to grade below MS-60, or if they appear to be deliberate rather than accidental, then the coin will be returned as ungradable - damaged. It's now "roadkill", worth scrap metal only.

It should also be pointed out that there is a difference between the technical definition of "uncirculated" - a coin with no wear (damage from friction) - and the literal definition of "uncirculated" - a coin that never entered circulation. It is possible to receive an uncirculated coin in change, provided neither you nor anybody who handled the coin before you ever "rubbed" the coin. It is likewise possible to receive a collector coin from the Mint, give it to the kids to play with, and they play with it until it becomes no longer uncirculated.
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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