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Michael Bugeja, a coin collector since childhood, is a professor at Iowa State University and also a former member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. He is a nationally known author, journalist and educator.Visit one of our other blogs:
Cameo Designation Requires Both Sides of Proof Coins
Originally only obverse side was shone online
I saw some marks on the left field and above the last "T" in "Trust." But I still put the grade at PR66 or PR67 worth $130 or $210, respectively.
However, I needed to see the reverse before placing a bid.
The amateur bidder would go by the description here, taking the grade designation on faith; a journeyman bidder might see the marks on the fields and bid as if on a PR66 coin. But the experienced online bidder would contact the company, as I did, and request a photo of the reverse.
The auctioneer complied, and as you can see, the reverse is not frosted; in fact, it is stained or perhaps has unattractive toning. I didn't even bid on the coin.
The "Cameo" designation requires "frostiness" on both sides of the coin, although one side may be heavier than the other. For instance, a Deep Cameo obverse and a Cameo reverse would result in a Cameo designation. For the rare “Deep Cameo Proof” designation, devices have to be heavily frosted on both the obverse and the reverse with even, heavy contrast on all the devices.
The lesson here is multi-fold:
1. Disregard the description on the flip or by the auctioneer. You have to rely on your own numismatic knowledge. Take the time to look up designations such as "Cameo" on Franklin halves or "Deep Mirror Proof-like" on Morgan dollars.
2. Do not bid on a suspected Cameo or Deep Cameo lot unless you have access to both sides of the coin. If only the obverse is shown on a PCGS or NGC holdered coin, you probably do not need both sides. You should ask to see the reverse on all other slabbed coins.
3. If the seller refuses to show both sides of the coin after you request that, don't bid in another of his auctions.
Finally, if the coin in question lives up to the Cameo or Deep Cameo designation on obverse and reverse, then look up recent auction prices on PCGS CoinFacts and bid accordingly.