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thatcoinguy's Blog

05 Jul 2022

No Grade Designations: What Are They?

Collecting Tips | thatcoinguy

A lot of collectors submit their coins to third party grading services (TPG) to be slabbed and graded. However, a large number of collectors become very disappointed by the fact that their coin was not graded, and came back as a no grade. This blog is intended to help you learn more about what two of the no grades mean, and identify why the TPG gave your coins these no grades. Let's get learning!


The first and most common type of no grade is cleaning. In fact, over the past 30 days, PCGS has sent back 14,669 coins in details-cleaned holders. The PCGS designation number for cleaning is 92. Cleaning is usually very obvious, although some collectors just don't know what to look for. One example of a coin I see cleaning on often is early Lincoln Cents. No wheat cent in F-12 is going to even have a shred of luster or red. It's just not possible. Examine your coins through deep rotations to look for hairlines, which are usually a strong sign of cleaning. But just be able to tell the difference between hairlines, and die polish marks, because those look very similar. Even I get tripped up by these sometimes, mixing up the two. But really, the best way to identify cleaned coins is to look at cleaned coins. Lots of them. There is no better way to learn the signs of a cleaned coin than to examine actual coins.


The second no grade I will be talking about is QC, of Questionable Color (PCGS Code 91). There have been 801 Questionable Color coins slabbed by PCGS in the last 30 days. The most important thing to remember about QC is that QC DOES NOT mean that your coin is artificially toned. If one of the leading TPGs (NGC or PCGS) receives an artificially cleaned coin, they will not slab it. Questionable color is most commonly used on coins that are toned, but PCGS/NGC do not know whether it is artificial or not. QC just means that PCGS/NGC thinks the color is artificial, but they are not sure. So there are definitely coins out there in QC holders that are genuine, and there are definitely coins out there in QC holders that have artificial toning. My personal advice is that if it might be artificial toning, it probably is, and if it probably is, I wouldn't touch it at all, much less with a 10 foot pole.


Keep collecting,

Thatcoinguy

Comments

Mal_ANA_YN

Level 5

That sounds like good info.

Jackson14

Level 4

Good blog! I think that coins with larger scratches can sometimes come out as details as well. Thanks

CheerioCoins

Level 5

I've noticed those sometimes and wondered. Would want to send a coin in to NGC and get it back with that written on it. Good, informational blog! Was that last comment a nod to the song "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch"?

thatcoinguy

Level 5

No, just the saying in general.

Kepi

Level 6

Really interesting blog! Great information! I really like toned coins. But you do have to be very careful when buying them. I have noticed that Mercury Dimes especially in the 1940's naturally tone beautifully! ; )

Longstrider

Level 6

Nicely done. Top shelf blog. A pleasure to read this one. You sure hit the most often encountered problems. It's not always a bad thing in my opinion. I have a couple of Details gold coins in a series I otherwise wouldn't be able to buy. I also try to stay away from Cleaned coins. Toned coins have a very precise way of toning. Learn the progression and order of colors and it will help a ton. I love toned coins but one must be very careful. I would only buy one that I can hold in my hand. That rules out ebay. A slabbed one is OK. Thanks.

thatcoinguy

Level 5

No problem!

Long Beard

Level 5

Valuable information to be sure. For toned coins, the easiest way to more accurately determine AT from natural is to look at the colors themselves. No matter which color or shape, it must be gradual from one shade to the next, blending into the natural finish at times. EBAY has plenty of artificial toners, thousands, if one needs to see what they look like. Sad that people actually buy these. As for a no-grade, or general grade details, I'm fine with that as long as it has nice eye appeal despite the fact. Harshly cleaned/scratched, no way.

coinsbygary

Level 5

I bought an 1876 20-cent piece when I was a YN. Many years later, I sent it to NGC, and it was returned to me as cleaned! In all the years I owned this coin, I NEVER cleaned it. When I first sent the coin, no details coins were slabbed. Years later, I decided to send it back to NGC to be slabbed, albeit details graded. To my delight, NGC sent it back to me slabbed with an XF-40 full grade! Now I wonder what changed between the first time I sent it and the second. Could it be that like umpires missing balls and strikes, the graders made a mistake grading my coin the first time? Do you know of any coins getting uncleaned?

thatcoinguy

Level 5

Second on what Long Beard said, and also because of gradeflation. That’s going to be a future blog post, so I won’t go in depth here.

Long Beard

Level 5

Sometimes a cleaned coin may re-tone to a natural look depending on how sever it had been originally by the previous owner.

RSchwa57

Level 3

Thank you for the very good information. I see a lot of the slabbed coins you mention being given away at Coin Shows by Coin Clubs as Door-Prizes that were donated by the dealers at the Show.

Mike

Level 7

Its been done and tried over and over. They just don't get it. How many times have you read do not clean your coins. Many But people think they can beat the system. It leave hairline scratches. The field is clean and the words are still dirty. Thanks for the blog!

thatcoinguy

Level 5

No problem Mike.

AC coin$

Level 6

Thanks for your information and hints towads such an i.portant part of collecting. The TPG process is one I have been avoiding.

Rebelfire76

Level 4

This is good information. Especially as older coins get older, and people are trying to offload coins for max profit, it’s something to look out for. I have not yet been able differentiate if a coin has been cleaned or not, something I should probably “polish” up on. Thanks CoinGuy.

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