Login

CoinLady's Blog

11 Nov 2016

What about grading?

Coins-United States | CoinLady

There has been much talk about grading coins and the problems that come with an imperfect system. I recall the Brown and Dunn grading guide, a book of line drawings of coins. Photograde came along in 1970, with photos of coins. Collectors could just match up their coins to the photos. Professional grading and slabs came to be in 1986. Every so often, someone mentions the possibility of computer grading. What to do?
Numismatics is not getting simpler. A simple grading system, whether by adjectives or matching up drawings, will not work as the hobby/business becomes more complicated. As a young collector, I saw many coins in cardboard holders bearing the grade "Brilliant uncirculated," "Gem," or "Choice uncirculated." What exactly do these terms mean? If I had three Morgan silver dollars, one of each of these descriptive grades, what would the differences be? Which coin would be most desirable, and why? If one coin had flashy luster but plenty of bagmarks, how would this be noted?
How about the current system, the scale of 1-70? It can be debated endlessly what makes one coin a MS-63 and the next MS-64. Look at lots of slabbed coins, all MS. Some may be very pretty, and a few may not. I have seen unattractive coins in MS-65 holders, and others where I wonder why such a gorgeous piece is only MS-63. And what of coins that are not Mint State?
Coin collecting has changed a great deal in the past few years, and will continue to change. It's certainly different than when I began looking for silver coins in change in the late sixties. No doubt grading standards will change, too.
Computer grading? Wouldn't it be nice to place a coin inside a grading machine and get a reading? I cannot see this happening, at least not in the near future. It's been said that grading is an art and not a science. Only human eyes can judge such features as eye appeal. And would this computer be able to discern counterfeits? Nothing can replace a human being with years of experience, a trained eye, and a genuine love of coins.
The president of Early American Coppers has proposed that experts in certain series of coins grade those coins. EAC has its own grading system, stricter than the norm, but it works well for copper enthusiasts. Those familiar with coins that have striking problems, years famous for weak strikes (such as Buffalo nickels) and some knowledge of coin metals could act as graders.
Lots of questions, no set answers. It appears that grading will never be a perfect system, but will be modified and tweaked over the years to come.

Comments

user_7180

Level 5

The question of the year - change the grading system or not? A standard that is built upon different humans opinions will always have difference of opinions! I believe the future holds computer grading with a separate category that will require human opinion for things the computer programming cannot account for.

CoinLady

Level 6

Great idea--computer grading with a separate category.

CMCC

Level 5

I don't think computer grading would work that well. It might read PVC damage as toning or toning as PVC damage, etc. I would like it if the grading systems would label Full-Strike for coins struck better than average.

Longstrider

Level 6

Computers, for now, is the answer. I believe with all the articles lately in all the Numismatic periodicals, I'ts been proven how crazy the grading system and graders are today. Take out the human feeling for the coin and just list it as original, cleaned or not and that's about all humans should do. What I feel is hot is you piece of trash?? Just my opinion I could be wrong!

Grading coins does seem complicated and inconsistent too! The idea of computer grading is a very interesting idea!

Mike

Level 7

I believe someday a company like I.B.M. will come out with a computer grading system. It can be done. Just think imput all the information about the coin. Put it in a slot it for in take hundreds of pictures breaks down the metal content and based on the information put in t will give a grade. Take these coins send them to the three companies and let the people grade them. See who's right. We put a man on the moon anything is possible it's just no one thought of it because if it works three companies are out of business!

Pliny The Elder

Level 5

Very thoughtful blog. Makes me ponder things I do not usually think about, thank you. I will hold out hope for computer grading someday. In my opinion, the buyer is the ultimate judge of a coin's eye appeal. If grading is an art, then I want to know the individual artists grading my coins so I can know if I am paying for a Rembrandt or a carnival sidewalk artist's rendition. Great blogging, with my thanks.

World_Coin_Nut

Level 5

I really like how NGC grades ancient coins. They simply give the grade (VF, XF, etc) with a numerical grade 1-5 for strike and surface condition. In my opinion it is a better explanation of condition.

Mike

Level 7

Great blog you ask all the right questions but they don't give us reasons.one must remember they are human therefore they are imperfect all humans are imperfect. So are some grades. Slabing counterfeit coins I don't believe in but they do! Thanks for the work I wrote two blogs on the Queen read them you just might enjoy them! Again thank you!

"SUN"

Level 6

We have the 1-70 system in place. It should stay. I remember Brown & Dunn grading. That is what I started with grading my coins. I do think there might be grade inflation. I might be a tough grader on my stuff. I grade d some coins VF and they came back AU50.

We use cookies to provide users the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your cookie settings, we'll assume that you agree to receive all cookies on money.org. You may disable cookies at any time using your internet browser configuration. By continuing to use this website, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use. To learn more about how we use cookies and to review our privacy policy, click here.