What may keep a coin from grading About Uncirculated?
- Published: Sep 27, 2023, 8 AM
August auctions offered some examples that show the diverse looks of coins in Extremely Fine-45, that grade that can sit just frustratingly short of the About Uncirculated grade.
Professional Coin Grading Service writes that in a coin graded EF-45, “High points of design show wear. A bit of luster may still be visible in protected areas.” Numismatic Guaranty Corp. diagnoses “complete details with minor wear on some of the high points.”
Weak strike or wear?
Sometimes, weakness in a coin’s design comes not from wear, but from a weak strike. Another handsome choice Extremely Fine offering was seen at Heritage’s Aug. 15 Platinum Night session: an NGC EF-45 1864-S Coronet gold $10 eagle that brought $78,000. The low-mintage San Francisco Mint issue is rare in all grades, with around two dozen known today from the 2,500 originally struck. No Mint State survivors are known, and the offered example shows traces of luster in the recessed areas, with well-defined surfaces showing high-point wear. The eagle’s neck feathers are weakly struck, as distinguished from wear.
In Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Aug. 16 Rarities Night session, an enigmatic 1804 Capped Bust $10 eagle graded EF-45 by PCGS sold for $28,800. It featured more luster than typically seen in this grade, and was nicely centered on the planchet. However, as the cataloger noted, “Overall detail to the devices is soft, however, with stars 11 and 12 on the obverse and the eagle’s left shoulder and right talon on the reverse particularly blunt.”
The planchet shows adjustment marks, where the planchet’s weight was adjusted by the removal of metal prior to striking, and the resulting unevenness in the planchet helps explain the lack of detail. The Mint-made adjustment marks, which resemble scratches, run diagonally through the right obverse field. Two other pin scratches are also seen on either side of the bust.
The 1804 date is well-known for the famed 1804 Draped Bust dollars, and the $10 denomination went on hiatus after this year until 1838. This example has far less actual wear than one would expect in this grade, but the striking deficiencies have been recognized in the market-grading used by PCGS.
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