Alright, it's breakdown time!
almost every coin out there, save the sealed from mint type, has been in some kind of circulation
Yeah, I'd agree with that. Though technically if I crack a BU roll, and buy something from a friend and toss his a quarter from the roll technically
it has been circulated. However, the reason I'm not a fan on the AU tag is one I'll elaborate on shortly.
Having said that, it is why they have TEN levels of Mint State. Yes? If any circulation shows, which you can find on about any coin, then all of them would be AUXX with any signs of circulation nullifying an MS designation.
The ten levels of mint state were created to originally grade morgan and Peace dollars
actually, but were quickly applied to all US coins
. Essentially it worked like this originally. You had MS60, the worst possible a coin can be without any signs of wear or significant mishandling. MS65 a coin free of detracting marks with no signs of wear or mishandling. MS70, a perfect coin. The reason I don't like AU is that it stands for about uncicrculated. I would much prefer the term AM (about mint). I feel this describes the grade MUCH better. When you have to explain the difference between an AU58 and MS60 and you try to use the terms "mishandled unc" or such it just gets too confusing for people who don't have a few years grading experience under their belt. AM describes it better IMO. It is in about mint condition, however shows signs of wear and mishandling to a degree reflective of its numerical grade. The way I always explain it is that a coin can be circulated and still be mint state, but a coin with wear cannot be MS. The dividing line occurs when their is wear on the devices. I don't care if the coin has changed pockets a few times, as long as it hasn't worn, in my eyes, and in technical terms, it's still UNC (MS). The other thing is mishandling, especially on gold will quickly drop a coin from MS to AU. Simply put if you never circulated a coin but left it in your pocket for a few weeks when you went out and about, very quickly it'd be AU. Simply because the mishandling caused friction which in turn causes wear.
AUXX to me is a circulated coin that reaches a certain level of wear, that exceeds any chance of achieving one of the Ten Mint State conditions. MS-60 has been compromised. Hence...AUXX. Seems logical to me. What I have to get better at is looking at a coin like this one I submitted, and determine how it qualifies for one of the TEN levels of any Mint State, to have a more acceptable coin in my arsenal. I just looked at PCGS
Photograde for AU55 Morgan.
Not sure what you were trying to say (maybe cause it's 4AM) but, I think what you're saying is that in your opinion an AU coin is a coin with minimal amounts of wear, right? Your wording was a bit confusing.
So, even though as some have noted, "I see some evidence of circulation...it's an AUXX", I say Ok. But this coin from a known substandard Mint (New Orleans), I would think would start from a grading baseline with that taken into consideration. Add some circulation evidence. But still in a 'Mint State" condition. One of the ten levels. So to me, this is a Mint State coin with some wear, evidence of circulation. Again.....that's why we have TEN levels of Mint State. Otherwise, it would be ONE Mint State condition. No levels. "Uhhh, there's a mark. A hairline. A bit of a rub mark, etc.. Duhhhh, Larry, you see that? Here, look in my 1000X microscope. A mark! Yup. No MS. It's an AUXX
Alright, so I'm gonna break this into a few parts to address this better.
But this coin from a known substandard Mint (New Orleans), I would think would start from a grading baseline with that taken into consideration. Add some circulation evidence. But still in a 'Mint State" condition.
So. Ok. The fact that the strikes are substandard is taken into consideration, and you can have some disgusting, atrocious strikes and still have a MS coin. That's all taken into consideration, and well seasoned graders know the difference between strike weakness and wear. The part where it gets tricky is your usage of "circulation evidence" as it can mean things to different people. Generally circulation evidence is a combination of luster impairment and wear. For example, if I'm quite suspicious that a coin may be AU but has strike weakness and blistering luster, I'm gonna bet that it's MS. That is because by definition an MS coin can have luster impairment, but no wear. An AU coin can have luster impairment and wear. So. To recap. It is taken into consideration, but wear isn't excusable, and circulation evidence is more or less equal to someone saying wear.
So to me, this is a Mint State coin with some wear, evidence of circulation. Again.....that's why we have TEN levels of Mint State. Otherwise, it would be ONE Mint State condition. No levels
We're getting to the bottom of your confusion! A MS coin can NEVER have wear as it would be a contradiction to it's own name. Logic states a worn item isn't in its state, that rule follows to coins as well. To break down the 10 levels of MS MS that's gonna be a challenge, but here goes the theory.
Coins, in this case Morgan dollars
are made of hard metal, in this case 90%, 10% copper. In order to make the blanks strikeable you need to make them slightly malleable. Once you've done so (I'm skipping over some stuff, but just generally understand you make them malleable) they are struck. The next part needs some understanding of thermodynamics, but when coins are struck it's under immense pressure which creates a ton of heat. Because of that coins fresh of the press are actually quite prone to damage because of how soft their surfaces are and because they can be easily blemished while malleable. Most bag marks and nicks and such you see on Morgan dollars
are from when the surfaces were so soft.
Now why is that all important? We use the 10 levels of MS to describe how a coin that has not experienced any wear, any circulation, nothing a Mint State coin has faired from striking to bagging. The each of the MS grades describes the number and severity of any flaws gained during this period. Because when we do this, we are describing a MS coin, no wear is allowable. So basically whenever you go up a grade you go down X amount of marks until you hit MS70 (perfect) or go down and hit MS60 (worst possible without having any wear or anything that would detail it). The reason we need 10 is to describe the different number and severity of marks.
Maybe that is a naive assessment, though I understand ANA
takes many things into consideration, and I accept that, I don't have to like it. No one does. We play by the rules as set though. But to ask questions and try to understand the "Why" of a head-scratching grade, is normal. Completely fair. It does not change my view that I don't see what the professionals see with decades of experience. I get that. And still, accept it. Just frustrating as not being experienced, to catch up to the "Why". And let's admit it...even experienced folks/experts have disagreements on grading. So, all fair questions/statements as I see above in this chain, and many others
Change your settings to that I can send you an email thru CCF and I'll send you the link to a 2hr long lecture on grading hosted by the ANA
earlier this week.
As for the Kennedy I just think they dropped the ball, PCGS
isn't great for Moderns, that's more NGC
's speed. Regardless it looks like a SP66CAM to me.
Well that's all from me. It is now 4:30am and I'm going to bed.