Author Archives: F. Michael Fazzari

Viewpoint: Color important part of coin grade

What is the future of coin grading? Can collectors, professional numismatists, dealers, and organizations agree on one grading standard? Can we be more precise when describing the grade or color of a coin? Continue reading

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Assigning grades to altered coins

What’s the problem? Grading coins with defects should be easy. When we developed technical grading to further identify coins, in addition to their weight and photograph, our main concern was to describe their condition of preservation. Continue reading

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Luster helps you find the ballpark

I enjoy teaching and passing on knowledge to seminar students or to collectors who stop at the Independent Coin Grading table at coin shows. After a pleasant interaction with a novice dealer at the Clearwater, Fla., Coin Show I feel it’s time to dust off an old topic for the benefit of new readers and beginning collectors. Continue reading

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Viewpoint: Experience improves cleaning odds

In March I read a letter to the editor in Numismatic News about cleaning and conservation done by a collector versus a professional conservator. I don’t know who is responsible for writing the heading for the letter, but in this case, the heading put on the letter contained the answer: [There is a] “Fine line between cleaning, conserving a coin.” Continue reading

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Berry and stem aid in identification

In the early 1970’s, while flying out to Colorado Springs, Colo., to teach an authentication class for the first time, I thought up what I believe to be the principal rule for coin authentication: “In order to authenticate a coin, you must know what a genuine specimen looks like.” Continue reading

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Grading silver Eagles takes practice

Silver Eagle bullion coins have become a highly collectible series. They are also relatively easy for a newcomer to grade because a majority of them are found in beautiful condition right from the Mint. Nevertheless, it is important to learn several of the specific characteristics used to grade all coins in order to arrive at an acceptable grade. Continue reading

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Beware of altered Standing Liberty

I took a call last week from one of our customers who wanted to know why his San Francisco Standing Liberty quarter was returned to him as “questionable authenticity.” Continue reading

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Grading incuse Indians a challenge

In this column, I’ll try a new approach to explain how you can evaluate the amount of wear found on one of the difficult coin series to grade – the incuse Indians of the early 20th century. If you find this teaching method helpful, write to me and I’ll use it for other coin series. Continue reading

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Chemical residues hard to detect

I’ve probably been boring readers writing about coins with altered surfaces; but it is still a big problem. I see the evidence of this at every coin show I attend and with many of the coins submitted to ICG for crossover service or upgrade. Continue reading

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Counterfeit slabs hit the market

This year will mark the 40th anniversary of coin authentication services in the United States. My 40th will come later this year in September. Continue reading

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