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“ Conditional Rarity” - Bah !

This term “ Conditional Rarity” to me and almost all veteran numismatists, is a bunch of
Hooey ( to be polite). A term likely not more than a decade+ old & used by auction houses & some dealers to convince registry collectors
( also a relatively recently- formed group ) to pay big bucks for an otherwise common coin in very slightly lower mint state grade. I just don’t see it & pity those that get taken in, only to lose $$$ when it comes time to sell. There are a whole lot of coins out there that aren’t slabbed yet ( including original rolls) or were slabbed years ago at dramatically lower mint state grades given “Gradeflation”.
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Comments

  • Condition rarity and ranking has some meaning in the early copper world.
  • edited June 4
    How is the term “a bunch of Hooey” in instances in which it’s accurately applied?

    Yes, there are a lot of coins that have never been graded. But the large majority of them from approximately the mid-20th century or older, aren’t superb uncirculated examples in rolls, sitting in deposit boxes, waiting to be discovered. As just one example, a common 1946-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar has an NGC population of 2631 in MS66,177 in MS67 and 1 in MS68. It would be perfectly fair and accurate to state that at the MS68 grade level, the date’s a “condition rarity”. To argue otherwise would be “Hooey”.😉
  • Mark, I am referring to the absurdity of paying a huge $ advance in
    price for “ conditional rarity” when the coin in infinitesimally lower grade is a tiny fraction of cost. As to large cents,
    “ condition rarity” has NEVER been used in this field and those early copper enthusiasts as a group abhore such grading terms - as a longtime EAC member who built a fine colln of 1793’s
  • And I think Mark just made my case for me - his ref to high mint state 1946-D
    WL halves. A coin that DOES exist in mint state rolls. And a coin that exists in the multi- thousands of specimens in MS 66-67 ( and that’s just with NGC) but is worth thousands of dollars ( or is it tens of thousands? ) more in MS 68 as
    a “ conditional rarity”. That’s “hooey”,
    99% of numismatists cannot tell the difference between an MS -67 and
    an MS 68. I bring this thought up for readers to “ chew on” . What really is rarer in an absolute sense and an historic/ aesthetic sense? A beautifully toned AU-58 1831 bust quarter or
    a “ conditional rarity” 1946-D WL half at many thousands of dollars more?
  • mellado said:

    And I think Mark just made my case for me - his ref to high mint state 1946-D
    WL halves. A coin that DOES exist in mint state rolls. And a coin that exists in the multi- thousands of specimens in MS 66-67 ( and that’s just with NGC) but is worth thousands of dollars ( or is it tens of thousands? ) more in MS 68 as
    a “ conditional rarity”. That’s “hooey”,
    99% of numismatists cannot tell the difference between an MS -67 and
    an MS 68. I bring this thought up for readers to “ chew on” . What really is rarer in an absolute sense and an historic/ aesthetic sense? A beautifully toned AU-58 1831 bust quarter or
    a “ conditional rarity” 1946-D WL half at many thousands of dollars more?

    Just because you don’t think the price differences/premiums are justified - and in many cases, I agree with you - doesn’t mean that the term “conditional rarity” is invalid or inaccurate.
  • edited June 4
    mellado said:
    This term “ Conditional Rarity” to me and almost all veteran numismatists, is a bunch of Hooey ( to be polite). A term likely not more than a decade+ old & used by auction houses & some dealers to convince registry collectors ( also a relatively recently- formed group ) to pay big bucks for an otherwise common coin in very slightly lower mint state grade. I just don’t see it & pity those that get taken in, only to lose $$$ when it comes time to sell. There are a whole lot of coins out there that aren’t slabbed yet ( including original rolls) or were slabbed years ago at dramatically lower mint state grades given “Gradeflation”.
    I agree completely with your comments. Most people cannot decipher the grade difference between 67-68, except for a handful of PCGS graders and expert numismatics. And the difference in visual appeal is minuscule. I predict a day of reckoning for common condition rarities where these coins crash in price 
  • edited June 4
    If you’re talking about Lincoln Cents or Ike Dollars, yes, the premium for the “finest by a nose” coins tend to be absurd. For colonials and patterns and most coins of the world, premiums are usually much more easily justified. 
  • Excellent point Mel, and a fact I hope many collectors wake up to!
    Fact NOBODY keeps a current accurate population of common high grade examples other than what the grading companies report and we also know how flawed those numbers are even though in this case it really doesn't matter due to unreported ungraded populations. Common high grade coins are just that and to give them a special nomenclature or classification ignores the main purpose of such terms which is to inflate their values and undermine value and real equity in our hobby.
    IE the collector relies on distorted info and get burned.......again.
  • edited June 4
    Realone said:

    Excellent point Mel, and a fact I hope many collectors wake up to!
    Fact NOBODY keeps a current accurate population of common high grade examples other than what the grading companies report and we also know how flawed those numbers are even though in this case it really doesn't matter due to unreported ungraded populations. Common high grade coins are just that and to give them a special nomenclature or classification ignores the main purpose of such terms which is to inflate their values and undermine value and real equity in our hobby.
    IE the collector relies on distorted info and get burned.......again.

    Alan, you like Trade Dollars and I’m sure there are many examples of this common date which haven’t been graded, yet. So does that mean it would be misleading or incorrect to refer to the below MS68 representative as a “condition rarity”?



    Like them or not and devalue them as you please, but many coins can justifiably be referred to as “condition rarities”. And some of you are throwing out the baby with the bath water.
  • I was trying to make the point that the price differences for “ conditional rarities” is a sucker’s trap, not that the term itself is inaccurate. Altho the term
    IS constructed to lure in the naive collector / investor. There will be a reckoning day for those lured into the ego trap of owning the so-called “ finest known” of “ conditionally rare” otherwise common mint state coins. Remember First Coinvestors, run by Stanley Apfelbaum ?
    Interestingly, he lived very near John J Ford, Jr.
  • Mark,
    I wasn't including Trade Dollars of the highest grades. An MS68 Trade Dollar whatever the date is a rarity let alone included in conditional rarity. The 1875-s is common date/mm Trade Dollar, it is incredibly uncommon in ms68. What you are showing is practically the finest known example, which I was not referring to. I was also not referring to Bust, Seated, or Trade Dollars since they are not all that common in high graded condition ie ms65 and up.
    The point I was making is that there can be 100's of high ms coins n a certain grouping, wouldn't all be conditional rarity. But when were are under 10 in the higher grades that then is true conditional rarity in my mind. I typically only care about the top 5-10. I didn't think Mel was discussing that ie true conditional rarities. In my mind the term "conditional rarity" has been trashed with certain types of coinage.
  • edited June 4
    Realone said:

    Mark,
    I wasn't including Trade Dollars of the highest grades. An MS68 Trade Dollar whatever the date is a rarity let alone included in conditional rarity. The 1875-s is common date/mm Trade Dollar, it is incredibly uncommon in ms68. What you are showing is practically the finest known example, which I was not referring to. I was also not referring to Bust, Seated, or Trade Dollars since they are not all that common in high graded condition ie ms65 and up.
    The point I was making is that there can be 100's of high ms coins n a certain grouping, wouldn't all be conditional rarity. But when were are under 10 in the higher grades that then is true conditional rarity in my mind. I typically only care about the top 5-10. I didn't think Mel was discussing that ie true conditional rarities. In my mind the term "conditional rarity" has been trashed with certain types of coinage.

    Alan, if there are “100’s of high ms coins n a certain grouping” than in my view, they wouldn’t qualify as “conditional rarities”. If, on the other hand, there were 10, they would qualify.

    My point is that the first sentence in the opening post (“This term “ Conditional Rarity” to me and almost all veteran numismatists, is a bunch of
    Hooey ( to be polite).” and a few others, since, are overly broad and unfair to many legitimate rarities.

    The term, itself, isn’t the problem, but rather, the inappropriate application of it is. And the huge premiums paid for many common coins, based on virtually indistinguishable differences in quality, doesn’t mean that on its own, the term “conditional rarity” is invalid or inaccurate.
  • Who could enjoy the design of a coin missing its top millimicron of surface?
    I call it either a phase or the only thing that will remain in the hobby.
    Either people will collect for acceptable type design or the mania for perfection will win out.
  • Pyrite said:

    Who could enjoy the design of a coin missing its top millimicron of surface?
    I call it either a phase or the only thing that will remain in the hobby.
    Either people will collect for acceptable type design or the mania for perfection will win out.

    That’s incorrect. Different people collect in many different ways. They always have and there’s no reason to think that will ever change.
  • MarkFeld said:
    Who could enjoy the design of a coin missing its top millimicron of surface? I call it either a phase or the only thing that will remain in the hobby. Either people will collect for acceptable type design or the mania for perfection will win out.
    That’s incorrect. Different people collect in many different ways. They always have and there’s no reason to think that will ever change.
    I think the drift of the OP’s comment is that conditional rarity is real as a term but overpriced and overvalued by the market. I think it still boils down to the coin not necessarily the number on the slab. So I would rather own the most amazing eye appealing 66 or 67 coin rather than the rarer ms 68 just amazing coin. At the end of the day I am looking and enjoying the coin, not the number on the slab.
  • I'm always amused by the arguments for what something "should" cost. It should cost what someone is willing to pay for it. There will always be those with deep pockets who want, and can afford, what they (and others) perceive to be "the best". Simple fact of life.
  • ms71 said:
    I'm always amused by the arguments for what something "should" cost. It should cost what someone is willing to pay for it. There will always be those with deep pockets who want, and can afford, what they (and others) perceive to be "the best". Simple fact of life.
    Doesn’t mean there aren’t irrational buying patterns in the market. Just because a few people are paying crazy prices doesn’t prove anything. The most overvalued coins are the MS 67 Walkers and Morgan’s which are plentiful but can be bought for so much cheaper in MS 66 with very minimal eye appeal and technical difference.
  • Stevie said:


    ms71 said:

    I'm always amused by the arguments for what something "should" cost. It should cost what someone is willing to pay for it. There will always be those with deep pockets who want, and can afford, what they (and others) perceive to be "the best". Simple fact of life.

    Doesn’t mean there aren’t irrational buying patterns in the market. Just because a few people are paying crazy prices doesn’t prove anything. The most overvalued coins are the MS 67 Walkers and Morgan’s which are plentiful but can be bought for so much cheaper in MS 66 with very minimal eye appeal and technical difference.

    I don’t know how you came up with MS67 vs. MS66 Walkers and Morgan’s as most overvalued, rather than numerous other coin types which have large spreads between two different grades.
  • MarkFeld said:
    ms71 said:
    I'm always amused by the arguments for what something "should" cost. It should cost what someone is willing to pay for it. There will always be those with deep pockets who want, and can afford, what they (and others) perceive to be "the best". Simple fact of life.
    Doesn’t mean there aren’t irrational buying patterns in the market. Just because a few people are paying crazy prices doesn’t prove anything. The most overvalued coins are the MS 67 Walkers and Morgan’s which are plentiful but can be bought for so much cheaper in MS 66 with very minimal eye appeal and technical difference.
    I don’t know how you came up with MS67 vs. MS66 Walkers and Morgan’s as most overvalued, rather than numerous other coin types which have large spreads between two different grades.
    Was just an example. Yes I agree there are many other types 
  • edited June 6
    I agree with @MarkFeld and @ms71.

    While most of us think it might be crazy of others to pay exponentially more for the unique few coins in a very top grade (where the buyer probably cannot distinguish the difference between that coin and the many more coins graded just one point lower), the FACT is there are the very wealthy passionate collectors that desire/want the VERY best, and can afford what they want. That has always existed in our hobby, although admittedly since the advent of reputable third party grading, those pricing differentials have grown MUCH larger, especially over the last decade.

    The coin market will fluctuate, and there will likely be times when top “conditional” rarities will be lower than today. But don’t be silly thinking the differential will shrink so much that you or I will then be able to comfortably afford them.

    Separately, I think a stronger argument can be made by the OP and others on MODERN conditional rarities, where the chances of some of the modern ungraded coins can one day get submitted for grading, and enough may also reach those very top grades to dilute their value.

    Steve
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