US Coins

How will colorized coins fare with professional graders?

The colorization process on select Proof 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame half dollars and silver dollars will be a factor in the final grade assigned by a professional grading service.

Images courtesy of the United States Mint

The colorized elements of select Proof 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame copper-nickel clad half dollars and silver dollars will be considered by the major independent third-party grading services in assigning a final grade.

On Aug. 28, the U.S. Mint will offer for sale 75,000 of the Proof 2020-S colorized  half dollars and 75,000 Proof 2020-P dollars. Elements on the reverse of both commemorative coins are being colorized by an outside vendor to whom struck coins are shipped from the San Francisco Mint for the half dollars and Philadelphia Mint for the silver dollars.

Collectors are asking what factors grading services will consider in assigning grades to the coins.

“What if it is Proof 68 with a bad paint job?” asks one reader. “What if it peels, yellow pigments fade and greens turn to blue and orange turns to pinks or magenta. Put some colored coins out in the sunlight for a couple days and see what happens?”

The colorization will be one of the factors professional graders will consider when examining the colorized coin submissions.

Professional Coin Grading Service President Brett Charville says he doesn’t believe the colorization will be an obstacle.

“PCGS has years of experience and expertise in grading colorized coins as various world mints have been producing colorized coins for decades,” Charville said.

The colorization will be a crucial detail in determining the final grade, says Max Spiegel, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Certified Collectibles Group, parent to Numismatic Guaranty Corp.

“The colorization is evaluated like any other element of the coin’s design,” Spiegel says. “If the colorization has voids, scratches, discoloration or other flaws, the grade will be lowered.”

“We grade them the way they look when we get them not what can happen in the future,” said F. Michael “Skip” Fazzari, numismatist for Independent Coin Graders. “The uncolored part of the coin is graded normally and defects in the colored part will detract.

“Several countries have been colorizing coins. So far, I don’t recall seeing any problems with the enamel that lowered the grade.”

ANACS graders want to see the finished product as soon as examples are submitted.

“Pretty sure we need to see some first,” says ANACS senior grader Michael Fahey. “Has the Mint said HOW they are applying the color? If they use the same process that Australia has employed for a while, there should be no problems. If they come up with something third-rate, there will be MANY problems.”

The U.S. Mint has not disclosed the name of the outside vendor executing the post-strike colorization nor released details on how the colorization is applied.

The coins have a household ordering limit of two coins per option for the first 24 hours after which the ordering restrictions will be lifted.

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