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Thoughts on the entire industry approach to coin grading

As someone who has had a number of hobbies, including coins, I have never liked or agreed with the concept of a TPG service “rejecting” rare coins from the hobby due to damage, graffiti, or cleaning - versus “accepting” coins for grading. Many special and rare pieces are essentially branded as rejects. I believe this does a disservice to the hobby and to young collectors that may be proud to purchase a less expensive rarity despite a particular flaw. Being more accepting may even lead to less coin doctoring. My feeling is that all rare coins should be graded on a numerical scale no matter what their condition / damage/ cleaning state may be. Perhaps a point system could assign a value based on several aspects such as a wear value / original surface value / damage value and a total weighted score. An example is a rarity where perhaps 30 coins in all grades survive. It is silly to reject a lightly cleaned example of such a rarity as a real collectible and it always seemed to be a somewhat pompous approach to me. Another example is an otherwise original and nice rare uncleaned early American gold piece with a tiny “x” carved long ago by someone to see if it is real. The severity of graffiti can vary greatly. Or the fact that gold is softer than other metals and more prone to nicks. The coins can still be point-graded lower, but at least it would create opportunities to give these coins some credit for their positive features. Thoughts from others? Maybe someday a new grading service could blaze a trail and improve the hobby.
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Comments

  • Most collectors when buying a straight graded coin do not want to buy a damaged coin, so I don’t think anyone would be in favor of net grading a graffiti coin. Rather they are currently graded “unc details- graffiti” or “au details- cleaned” which gives a ballpark grade and notes the defect that prevents a straight grade. Also, many lightly cleaned coins make their way into straight graded holders as it is now. 

    At first I thought you were suggesting that details slabs include a numerical grade, which I wouldn’t be against and others have suggested the same. At the end of your post, my interpretation is that you’d rather rather see problem coins net graded and included in the census for straight graded coins, which I do not think is a good idea. 
  • You’ve just described market grading in its most radical form.
  • I think that the sharpness grade and then a description of the defect is the right approach. It's controversial because opinions differ, but "value of grade X" could also be in order. Early American Coppers collectors use net grading like that to establish condition census lists.
  • BillJones what you describe sounds like a reasonable approach. I wonder how TPG entities would feel about this?
  • edited December 2022
    I don’t see a problem with not assigning a numerical grade to a problem coin. I also don’t automatically consider problem coins “rejects”. I even have some in my own collection. However, I do have a problem with labels that draw unnecessary attention to the coin’s problem. It’s enough for a label to simply say, for example, “XF Details, Cleaned”. The label doesn’t have to be a different color or anything like that.
  • Thanks for your comments - I guess I see problem rarities still as rarities that should be accounted for when researching and summarizing the numbers of known graded /surviving coins. It would at least be nice to see them accounted for on the TPG charts where the number of graded specimens are listed - maybe a separate row or something.
  • Noting problems for details-grade coins on grading labels doesn’t amount to “rejecting” them. Each potential buyer of any coin rejects it or accepts it, regardless of whether the coin receives a details grade and (if applicable), no matter what the assigned straight grade.

    I much prefer the current labeling of problem coins, to what you propose. And in fact, I wish that the grading companies were more stringent, not more forgiving in that regard.
  • There IS no "perfect" method to ...grade.. a coin.
    I've been through the raw, ANACS authentic, rattler, OGH, NGC bias, and now the CACG entry into the fray.


    While I absolutely value authenticity and damage identification, the possiblities are endless and could be far too complex to be practical.

    I have to rate MY coins on "entertainment" value. Whether or not I keep returning for a new "hit" on viewing.

    I can't find the post/s where the grades may be increased or decreased by minimal amounts, but I sure think it would be tough to try to find people who could ...consistently.... apply UNIFORM transferences.

    I also can't know at THIS time how it will affect the coin hobby.

    Waiter/seer here, boss.
  • MarkFeld said:

    Noting problems for details-grade coins on grading labels doesn’t amount to “rejecting” them. Each potential buyer of any coin rejects it or accepts it, regardless of whether the coin receives a details grade and (if applicable), no matter what the assigned straight grade.

    I much prefer the current labeling of problem coins, to what you propose. And in fact, I wish that the grading companies were more stringent, not more forgiving in that regard.

    Concur.

    At least there was success in convincing the grading gods to dispense with the little flimsy body bag and start recognizing the genuine aspect of the coin, by placing it in a worthy slab (which was paid for when submitted but not delivered), and listening to those that insisted doing so would create a worthwhile market and attract new collectors/hobbyists.

    BTW, YW
  • I understand your point of view, but the CAC concept is polar opposite. CAC was founded so that "C" quality coins, either over-graded or problem coins, wouldn't drag down premium quality coins of the same grade. If an XF details problem coin with graffiti is net graded as F15, the sale of that coin could skew the perceived value of a choice coin of the same grade. I think a rare coin that is authenticated as genuine in a details grade holder, still maintains its value.

    Doug
  • edited December 2022
    I've only been studying numismatics and grading for 6 months or so but I always thought they should apply a number grade if it goes into a slab at all. For instance an ms63 grade coin with graffiti should say ms63 details - graffiti. When I pay for grading I'm asking for what the grade is. If it has a problem note it so but having to guess the actual grade because all they will say is Unc details is frustrating and feels like I'm not getting the service I paid and asked for - a grade. Not an approximate grade that covers up to 10 grade levels. 

    Obviously (or not?) if the detail issue is so bad that they can't give an honest numerical grade, there would have to be a stipulation for that situation. 

    Unc covers a heck of a lot - as does au. Is it Unc 63 details, or 68 details? If it's a minor details issue there can be a huge value gap between detailed 63 and 68. They basically leave it up to the seller and buyer to guess the grade even after they paid for a grade. To whit, on the positive side I guess at least you can say it's confirmed Unc VS au VS xf etc. Still feels like not getting what was paid for though. 

    It would then be up to the buyer how much the detail hurts the value. 
  • edited December 2022

    I've only been studying numismatics and grading for 6 months or so but I always thought they should apply a number grade if it goes into a slab at all. For instance an ms63 grade coin with graffiti should say ms63 details - graffiti. When I pay for grading I'm asking for what the grade is. If it has a problem note it so but having to guess the actual grade because all they will say is Unc details is frustrating and feels like I'm not getting the service I paid and asked for - a grade. Not an approximate grade that covers up to 10 grade levels. 

    Obviously (or not?) if the detail issue is so bad that they can't give an honest numerical grade, there would have to be a stipulation for that situation. 

    Unc covers a heck of a lot - as does au. Is it Unc 63 details, or 68 details? If it's a minor details issue there can be a huge value gap between detailed 63 and 68. They basically leave it up to the seller and buyer to guess the grade even after they paid for a grade. To whit, on the positive side I guess at least you can say it's confirmed Unc VS au VS xf etc. Still feels like not getting what was paid for though. 

    It would then be up to the buyer how much the detail hurts the value. 

    Among other things, you wrote “.. if the detail issue is so bad that they can't give an honest numerical grade, there would have to be a stipulation for that situation…”

    Details grades are used precisely in instances in which a meaningful “honest numerical grade” can’t be applied. As an example, if an uncirculated coin has graffiti, it doesn’t really matter if it would be a 60, 63, 65, 67 or any other number, without the graffiti. Because the graffiti largely nullifies the coin’s (graffiti-free) condition and there’s not a precise numerical grade that would make sense.
  • MarkFeld said:
    I've only been studying numismatics and grading for 6 months or so but I always thought they should apply a number grade if it goes into a slab at all. For instance an ms63 grade coin with graffiti should say ms63 details - graffiti. When I pay for grading I'm asking for what the grade is. If it has a problem note it so but having to guess the actual grade because all they will say is Unc details is frustrating and feels like I'm not getting the service I paid and asked for - a grade. Not an approximate grade that covers up to 10 grade levels. 

    Obviously (or not?) if the detail issue is so bad that they can't give an honest numerical grade, there would have to be a stipulation for that situation. 

    Unc covers a heck of a lot - as does au. Is it Unc 63 details, or 68 details? If it's a minor details issue there can be a huge value gap between detailed 63 and 68. They basically leave it up to the seller and buyer to guess the grade even after they paid for a grade. To whit, on the positive side I guess at least you can say it's confirmed Unc VS au VS xf etc. Still feels like not getting what was paid for though. 

    It would then be up to the buyer how much the detail hurts the value. 
    Among other things, you wrote “.. if the detail issue is so bad that they can't give an honest numerical grade, there would have to be a stipulation for that situation…” Details grades are used precisely in instances in which a meaningful “honest numerical grade” can’t be applied. As an example, if an uncirculated coin has graffiti, it doesn’t really matter if it would be a 60, 63, 65, 67 or any other number, without the graffiti. Because the graffiti largely nullifies the coin’s (graffiti-free) condition and there’s not a precise numerical grade that would make sense.
    How can a scratch for instance nullify the entire coins grade? If it's a small graffiti or scratch, I don't see why you can't still give it a numerical grade with the details moniker. ANACS does or did (not sure if they still do). I'm referring to minor cleaning or a minor scratch.

    Are you saying that they only give details grades for major issues? Because that isn't the impression I get. It seems that they give out details monikers for almost everything (not saying they do, just that it seems that way). 
  • MarkFeld said:

    I've only been studying numismatics and grading for 6 months or so but I always thought they should apply a number grade if it goes into a slab at all. For instance an ms63 grade coin with graffiti should say ms63 details - graffiti. When I pay for grading I'm asking for what the grade is. If it has a problem note it so but having to guess the actual grade because all they will say is Unc details is frustrating and feels like I'm not getting the service I paid and asked for - a grade. Not an approximate grade that covers up to 10 grade levels. 

    Obviously (or not?) if the detail issue is so bad that they can't give an honest numerical grade, there would have to be a stipulation for that situation. 

    Unc covers a heck of a lot - as does au. Is it Unc 63 details, or 68 details? If it's a minor details issue there can be a huge value gap between detailed 63 and 68. They basically leave it up to the seller and buyer to guess the grade even after they paid for a grade. To whit, on the positive side I guess at least you can say it's confirmed Unc VS au VS xf etc. Still feels like not getting what was paid for though. 

    It would then be up to the buyer how much the detail hurts the value. 

    Among other things, you wrote “.. if the detail issue is so bad that they can't give an honest numerical grade, there would have to be a stipulation for that situation…”

    Details grades are used precisely in instances in which a meaningful “honest numerical grade” can’t be applied. As an example, if an uncirculated coin has graffiti, it doesn’t really matter if it would be a 60, 63, 65, 67 or any other number, without the graffiti. Because the graffiti largely nullifies the coin’s (graffiti-free) condition and there’s not a precise numerical grade that would make sense.
    Hugely disagree with the point, “As an example, if an uncirculated coin has graffiti, it doesn’t really matter if it would be a 60, 63, 65, 67 or any other number, without the graffiti.” This is the same (and worse) as saying all damage is equal (which it isn’t). If you look at the rest of the coin outside of the graffiti and determine that it would grade MS65, then that should be noted on the slab (MS65 Details - Graffiti). Then you can allow the market to value it, but calling everything UNC Details really hurts the market on problem coins, which is why I largely stay away from them, because it allows too much interpretation on the end of the buyer and the seller. This is a big factor in grading a raw coin in the first place, to get the opinion of a professional TPG. So I agree with @the4thcoin that numerical grades should be given to problem coins (unless the damage is so severe that an exact grade can’t be given) since you’re paying the TPG to grade the coin.

  • MarkFeld said:

    I've only been studying numismatics and grading for 6 months or so but I always thought they should apply a number grade if it goes into a slab at all. For instance an ms63 grade coin with graffiti should say ms63 details - graffiti. When I pay for grading I'm asking for what the grade is. If it has a problem note it so but having to guess the actual grade because all they will say is Unc details is frustrating and feels like I'm not getting the service I paid and asked for - a grade. Not an approximate grade that covers up to 10 grade levels. 

    Obviously (or not?) if the detail issue is so bad that they can't give an honest numerical grade, there would have to be a stipulation for that situation. 

    Unc covers a heck of a lot - as does au. Is it Unc 63 details, or 68 details? If it's a minor details issue there can be a huge value gap between detailed 63 and 68. They basically leave it up to the seller and buyer to guess the grade even after they paid for a grade. To whit, on the positive side I guess at least you can say it's confirmed Unc VS au VS xf etc. Still feels like not getting what was paid for though. 

    It would then be up to the buyer how much the detail hurts the value. 

    Among other things, you wrote “.. if the detail issue is so bad that they can't give an honest numerical grade, there would have to be a stipulation for that situation…”

    Details grades are used precisely in instances in which a meaningful “honest numerical grade” can’t be applied. As an example, if an uncirculated coin has graffiti, it doesn’t really matter if it would be a 60, 63, 65, 67 or any other number, without the graffiti. Because the graffiti largely nullifies the coin’s (graffiti-free) condition and there’s not a precise numerical grade that would make sense.

    How can a scratch for instance nullify the entire coins grade? If it's a small graffiti or scratch, I don't see why you can't still give it a numerical grade with the details moniker. ANACS does or did (not sure if they still do). I'm referring to minor cleaning or a minor scratch.

    Are you saying that they only give details grades for major issues? Because that isn't the impression I get. It seems that they give out details monikers for almost everything (not saying they do, just that it seems that way). 

    Coins that have scratches deemed to be acceptable by the grading companies, receive straight grades, rather than details grades. Ditto for coins with light cleaning. It’s when the scratch, cleaning or other problem is too severe to assign a meaningful straight grade, that the grading companies assign details grades.

    Graffiti, which is considered intentional damage, is generally thought to be more of an issue than random marks/scratches from circulation. And no, the grading companies don’t typically give details grades for just minor scratches or cleaning. In fact, there are many holdered straight grade coins that collectors and dealers feel should have received details grades, instead.
  • Separate issue, but it’s a big one (CONSISTENCY - Enter CACG). When the TPGs choose to Details grade a coin for a minor issue, a numerical grade should be given like ANACS does now.
  • MarkFeld said:

    I've only been studying numismatics and grading for 6 months or so but I always thought they should apply a number grade if it goes into a slab at all. For instance an ms63 grade coin with graffiti should say ms63 details - graffiti. When I pay for grading I'm asking for what the grade is. If it has a problem note it so but having to guess the actual grade because all they will say is Unc details is frustrating and feels like I'm not getting the service I paid and asked for - a grade. Not an approximate grade that covers up to 10 grade levels. 

    Obviously (or not?) if the detail issue is so bad that they can't give an honest numerical grade, there would have to be a stipulation for that situation. 

    Unc covers a heck of a lot - as does au. Is it Unc 63 details, or 68 details? If it's a minor details issue there can be a huge value gap between detailed 63 and 68. They basically leave it up to the seller and buyer to guess the grade even after they paid for a grade. To whit, on the positive side I guess at least you can say it's confirmed Unc VS au VS xf etc. Still feels like not getting what was paid for though. 

    It would then be up to the buyer how much the detail hurts the value. 

    Among other things, you wrote “.. if the detail issue is so bad that they can't give an honest numerical grade, there would have to be a stipulation for that situation…”

    Details grades are used precisely in instances in which a meaningful “honest numerical grade” can’t be applied. As an example, if an uncirculated coin has graffiti, it doesn’t really matter if it would be a 60, 63, 65, 67 or any other number, without the graffiti. Because the graffiti largely nullifies the coin’s (graffiti-free) condition and there’s not a precise numerical grade that would make sense.
    Hugely disagree with the point, “As an example, if an uncirculated coin has graffiti, it doesn’t really matter if it would be a 60, 63, 65, 67 or any other number, without the graffiti.” This is the same (and worse) as saying all damage is equal (which it isn’t). If you look at the rest of the coin outside of the graffiti and determine that it would grade MS65, then that should be noted on the slab (MS65 Details - Graffiti). Then you can allow the market to value it, but calling everything UNC Details really hurts the market on problem coins, which is why I largely stay away from them, because it allows too much interpretation on the end of the buyer and the seller. This is a big factor in grading a raw coin in the first place, to get the opinion of a professional TPG. So I agree with @the4thcoin that numerical grades should be given to problem coins (unless the damage is so severe that an exact grade can’t be given) since you’re paying the TPG to grade the coin.
    What numerical would you suggest assigning to a coin that has graffiti, but is otherwise a 67? Once you have that answer, how would grading the coin (your suggested numerical grade) and adding “Graffiti” to the grading label, eliminate the current “too much interpretation on the end of the buyer and the seller”, that you’re unhappy with?

    As is the case now, different buyers and sellers will still have very different opinions regarding the value of the coin. A specific grade, accompanied by “Graffiti” won’t eliminate or even significantly reduce the difficulty in valuing the coin. For that matter. buyers and sellers often have difficulty valuing straight grade coins, as well.
  • MS67 Details - Graffiti. The market won’t value it as n MS67, but I guarantee it would rightfully be valued higher than if it was graded UNC Details. There would still be interpretation as to what that value is, but it would still be helpful for both parties to know that numerical grade.
  • edited December 2022

    MS67 Details - Graffiti. The market won’t value it as n MS67, but I guarantee it would rightfully be valued higher than if it was graded UNC Details. There would still be interpretation as to what that value is, but it would still be helpful for both parties to know that numerical grade.

    Why would it “rightfully”, rather than “wrongfully” be valued higher? The value isn’t up to you or me. Like it or not, it’s matter of personal preferences/taste among market participants, regardless of the label.
  • MS67 Details - Graffiti. The market won’t value it as n MS67, but I guarantee it would rightfully be valued higher than if it was graded UNC Details. There would still be interpretation as to what that value is, but it would still be helpful for both parties to know that numerical grade.
    In theory, this might work with heavy rim damage, scratches, or graffiti, but what about a harsh over dip? A coin that might have been a 67 and is free of chatter or contact marks, but has been stripped of all its luster. Do you still grade it 67-details harshly cleaned? Or would you net grade it to a 65-details?  I think Marks point is that it just opens the door more complications and unnecessary nit picking for coins that are regarded by many as nothing more than another problem coin, it’s easier just to give a ballpark grade and let the buyer of the coin place a value on it. 
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