Long Beard's Blog

02 Mar 2020

Are Toned Coins Worth More?

Coins-United States | Long Beard

This is one of the most frequently posed questions as of late within the collecting community. While mostly by beginners, this very question is by nature vague and confusing to most. In a nut shell the answer would be yes.A true answer would be difficult at best since many variables must be addressed which only addsto an already confusing subject.Not to mention that it isquite subjective and debatable. So this week I decided to use the example above asthe topic, which I found as I was scrolling through some auction sites looking to buy.

Keep in mind that the followinghas been shortened for space yet as to the point as possible in a mannereasy to understand. That said, there are two forms of toning. The first being natural. The word in itself is an oxymoron since it is caused by a reaction to the environment. This means that the coin in question changed in color from it's original, as struck appearance. The cause for this comes from many sources, whether it be the climate in which it was stored or whether from being housed or left open. As an example, coins stored in albums general develop outer "rings" of color caused by a bleaching affect from the cardboard fibers touching their edge. Others becoming fully toned due to, say, salt water from being near the ocean. Whatever the coin encountered, the affecting change has become naturally toned.

The second type of toning is artificial. This sort is man-made and almost always deliberate, most often to market them for profit but occasionally done for personal reasoning. Artificial toning can be easily detected, unless extremely obvious already, by comparing it to that of natural. Natural toning is almost always gradual from color to color whereas artificial is not, insteadin solid shades of violet and blue with little or no gradation. The process is simple in that a chemical or dye is used to create the "effect" of toning.

Now to the specimen depicted above. Notice the subtle changes in color. This particular example, one of three graded PCGS MS68 with a CAC designation, none higher, sold at the Regency Legend 33 auction in Las Vegas on 6/27/19 for an astounding $43,475. Well above and beyond the 12-14000 estimate. As a note, whilethe other two examples are also toned this one is the most vibrant. Keeping with the "is it worth more" question, NGC has 6 graded at MS68, two star and none higher, of which one soldon 10/1719 at the Heritage Signature auction in Dallas, TX for a far less $2,640 despite being toned as well.So this suggests it being a matter of toning appeal rather than grade alone.

So what does that all mean?To begin with, at a mintage of 10,068,400 nice mid-gradeexamples are relatively easy to acquire, even toned. It's only when they reach the higher end when these prices become realized.The greatest contributing factor when discussing toned coins is the market itself.While moderns themselves has exploded in prices over the past few years, toned seems to draw more attention. Which, personally, I don't see changing anytime soon. Yet it will at some point. The grading company and/or the auction company also adds to the price realized. If you by chance possess a coin which is toned and find yourself faced with the question of value, unless in a higher gradeas mentioned, don't expect five figures or anywhere close. Do some research on similar pieces, toned and non-toned expecting a slight premium over the latter.

Myself, I like toned coins. So long as they have the"look" which does not detract from the underlying devices. A perfect example arenickels with a slight blue, blue-violet shade. What ever your thoughts on toned coins I hope that this cleared things up. If you're chasing rainbows I strongly suggest third party grading until you become familiar with the affects of toning.I've encountered far too many thatare expertly deceiving.

The supplied images were taken from Legend Auctions.



Level 5

What a well written and thought out blog Long Beard! I can CERTAINLY say that I've had my coin class for today! I'm going to have to stay in my lane on this subject though. I have seen several toned coins but never one that was quite that expensive. That's probably the reason I only own 2 coins that have been graded by a TPGS, I'm with Gary on this! There's too many acronyms involved i.e. PCGS, NGC, CAC, and Regency Legend auctions. I don't have anything against toned coins, but I do think this coin was "market driven". To make a long story short, for the price that was paid for this coin, I could have fed the First Responders in NYC for a week, bought Malcolm a NICE used Fiat, purchased my 2012 Silver Proof Set and completed my Kennedy Half collection! The top price for my 2012 Silver Proof Set is $350 and contains 14 coins. :-)) BTW, I did spring $65 for the 2020 Silver Proof Set that is supposed to arrive this Friday, 1 May, 2020 ! The only problem with it is that it don't come with any acronyms, isn't in a Registry Set, isn't toned, and isn't "market driven" yet. Again, I'm with Gary on this, "to each his or her own"! Thanks for including me in this class Long Beard!


Level 5

Toning is ok but when the degree of toning actually masks the perfection of coins it becomes distracting.


Level 4

For me, it depends on the toning. If it is a nice colorful toning, then I will pay a little extra for it. If it is an ugly color of toning, or doesn't have toning, i won't buy it. I like the whole coin to be toned, not just half of it.

Long Beard

Level 5

Several are absolutely correct on the prices based on the current market. Which was more or less the point when one asks whether a coin is worth more toned. With the market where it is, sell now if you chose as it will drop at some point. As for CAC approved, I wonder if the often huge price difference is also a market craze? I think so. Thanks for reading!

Toning will always have its eye candy appeal. This is where third-party grading definitely comes into play, and be careful of paying the crazy money.


Level 5

While I can appreciate some toned coins I won't pay extra for them. They just aren't for me. It's kind of like paying a ridiculous price for a 70 when a 69 looks the same. I don't fault anyone that does collect this way, it is just my preference.

Long Beard

Level 5

I'm with you. I find it hard to pay only a slight premium over an otherwise as struck strike. With the above exception in the highest grade (all three toned), it makes no sense in a volatile market peak. I think the buyer will take a hit in the future if they hold it too long.


Level 5

Nice blog. Beauty is in the eve of the beholder. I agree, toned coins have to have "the look."


Level 6

Great blog. Nicely thought out and presented. I personally like toned coins. To a degree. I would never pay big money for one. Now, the are all the rage and have been for a while. In past days, coins were cleaned to get, what is called, blast white appearance. It's the style of the time. CAC is just a joke but one can't discount the HUGE prices they get. Now here is where I make people angry. Coins will tone in a NGC or PCGS slab. Yes, it takes much more time but it does happen. No idea why but plastic is not a complete air barrier. Maybe it is because what the coin went through before slabbing. I have some that have toned since I bought them slabbed. Coin doctors have no trouble toning coins through a slab but that is an entire different deal. Thanks for this.. PCGS lists this coin at $20K.


Level 5

If my red lincoln cent tones and becomes a nice brown is it worth more? I would rather have a nice clean coin, then a toned one. But if the hobby in general feels toning is better, then so be it. I would hate to be told my coin is to original, and needs some toning. Will original surfaces become become a detriment like cleaned?


Level 7

My question is was it toned before it went into the slab. As Molester said this is nice. I do not like toning. Any coin that tones because of the environment I would notgo for it. Just because a coin turned should not affect the price of a coin. . Second I will never understand C.A.C. all they do is verify that the grading service was right. I have never seen one that didn't get a sticker. And for that they get ridiculous prices. They pick and choose what coins they grade. This must mean that the employees of C.A.C. Are the people who should grade all coins. There super graders. All they do is say that N.G.C is rite. Bingo triple the price. That coin was overpaid for. What does he well it for.? And of it goes to the Registry set to win. It's not collecting and learning anymore it's who has the most money to put a winning set together. Thanks for the blog. I enjoyed that and the other comments. Well done.


Level 6

Personally, I think the registry competition, and what it engenders, is harmful to the hobby. I was once caught up in the pursuit and spent untold Dollars simply serving my set rather than my collector's heart. By any reasonable measure, that quarter's owner overpaid. Having said that, to each his own, I am just never going to throw myself into that maelstrom again. BTW, I think toned coins can be absolutely beautiful but I do not actively pursue them. I do have a set of Canadian Centennial coins that toned naturally in a contemporary frame, the Dollar and Half Dollar are particularly nice.


Level 5

Modern coins such as this one are affected by the registry set phenomenon. I have no doubt that this coin is likely in a PCGS registry set somewhere. Hands down, this coin is beautifully toned. Couple that with a high or should I say top grade and throw in CAC and there you have the $43,475 price tag. Part of this is the PCGS mystique. Had this coin been in an NGC holder with CAC it would never have fetched the price it has. Then there is the reputation of the PCGS only Regency Legend auctions and it is no wonder why it fetched that price. Still, value is in the eye of the beholder and from my perspective I just can't see the value of this coin as beautiful and highly graded as it is. Even if the same coin was in an NGC holder I could not afford it or conceive in my mind that it is that valuable. For me, with the same money, I could buy a nice 1907 high relief St Gaudens double eagle to complete my classic gold 1834 and later typeset. To each his or her own.

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