US Coins

Coin grading companies are missing a golden opportunity

With the advent of the new golden dollar coin at the turn of the last century, Congress and the United States Mint gave the coin collecting public yet another choice to add to their collections.

The Presidential and Sacagawea/Native American dollar series offer a constantly changing canvas as the next four presidents and a new reverse design are created every year. In so doing, the odds of appealing to collectors grows with every new year and every new design produced.

The third-party grading companies (Numismatic Guaranty Corp., Professional Coin Grading Service, ANACS and the like) enjoy tremendous popularity in the hobby currently, and collectors look to these services for a confirmation of condition and also for a source of credibility when it comes time to sell their coins.

Over the years many superlatives have been created to describe surfaces that collectors find more desirable. Examples include deep mirror proof-like (DMPL) Morgan dollars, full bell line (FBL) Franklin half dollars and full split bands (FSB) on Winged Liberty Head dimes.

Lincoln cents are another excellent example of how a superlative designation adds value to coins. Lincoln cents in full red color sell for many times their brown or red-brown counterparts.

My suggestion is that the grading services should start grading golden dollar coins with a GD or “golden” color designation.

It is understandable that with a new coin in a new composition it takes some time and an evolutionary process in the grading of a particular series before it can be improved or possibly perfected. It is time to make this change.

As anyone who has attempted to put together a set knows, the golden dollar coins tone and they tend to do so quickly. The coins turn some wonderful blue and green hues as they tone to a nice chocolate brown end state. If you opt for coins of nice, original color and have attempted to assemble this set, you know how difficult it can be to find nice, pristine examples in a nice original golden color.

Just as the copper on Lincoln cents is extremely reactive to oxygen and skin oils, so is the surface of the golden dollar coins. I think that as more collectors come to the multiple golden dollar series, there will be a growing appreciation for nice, original coins without any toning. They will command significant premiums because of the scarcity of pristine examples.

The grading companies should begin now to use a designation for this color much like the Lincoln cent. The collecting community will benefit from it, and the grading companies will benefit from a larger number of submissions.

This is the next innovation in the third-party grading process. The next evolution in the new millennium.

Just as coin collecting is a dynamic hobby that morphs with the changing interests of collectors at large, the business side is also dynamic. This superlative designation will help future collectors of these series and will help establish a market before the desperate need for it exists.

If the grading companies exist for the benefit of the hobby and in the interests of collectors, this is a move that they must make. It is the next innovation, the next improvement to third-party coin grading and the next step for collectors of these coins.

Michael Nottelmann is a coin collector from Chicago who has been collecting for almost 40 years. He specializes in 20th century U.S. type coins, but his interests are varied and include early U.S. coinage as well. Along with Matt Dinger, he hosts an Internet podcast about coins and coin collecting named “The Coin Show” that is available on iTunes and on the show’s website at

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