While grades may change over time, basic standards of quality in
numismatics are, thankfully, much more stable.
The Henry P.
Kendall Foundation Collection, offered by Stack’s Bowers
Galleries on March 26 as part of the Whitman Expo in
Baltimore, realized more than $9.5 million. Many of the
coins in the collection tell individual stories of twists and turns in
how quality and value can be perceived.
One coin that caught my eye in preparing the Market Analysis that appeared in the April 27 weekly
issue of Coin World was a 1652 Oak Tree shilling graded About
Uncirculated 58+ by Professional Coin Grading Service, with a green
Acceptance Corp. sticker indicating quality within the grade,
that brought $85,187.50.
As a coin, it’s stunning, with a long ownership history, a bold
strike, hints of luster and with great surface quality. Its quality is
such that it was used as a plate coin in Sylvester S. Crosby’s seminal
work Early Coins of America and in Sydney Noe’s standard
reference on the series.
In a 1973 offering, Stack’s wrote that the piece was “the finest Oak
Tree Shilling that it has ever been our privilege to offer, and one of
the finest extant, if not the finest. Original mint luster toning to a
lovely blue iridescence. As perfectly centered as these pieces come,
with sharp striking and a full sharp tree. Another true prize. UNCIRCULATED.”
It’s long been considered among the finest of all Oak Tree
shillings, and the current catalog entry notes that it has also
historically been considered Choice Uncirculated. The entry states,
“Grades can be argued about, but quality cannot,” describing it as “an
essentially perfect coin.”
How does the PCGS assessment of AU-58+ impact our perception of the
Does a non-Mint State grade affect its value when historically its
quality has been validated by the experts in the series?
Coins like this provide a reminder that numerical grades are a
single number meant to encapsulate numerous elements of a coin’s
appeal in the marketplace. While the grade may be debated for
generations to come, standards of quality tend to remain universal