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Letters to the Editor
- Letters to the Editor (December 20, 2016) Guide books suggest elitism exists in hobby The letter I wrote a few weeks ago was not intended to be an insult to anyone but were merely examples of my experience with both coin and stamp collecting. It was meant to be a general discussion about the hobby abroad, not simply about one denomination out of ...
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Author Archives: F. Michael Fazzari
In a recent column I illustrated two Standing Liberty quarters and challenged readers to pick the coin that was assigned the higher grade by a major grading service. It was a trick question used to illustrate the subjective nature of the commercial grading system we use today. In that column, the coin with slightly more design detail was graded much lower because only one digit of its date was visible. Continue reading
The surface of every coin tells a story and the story gets more interesting with each increase of magnification used to view it. As such, many coins that look unquestionably genuine at first glance, fall apart when examined using magnification. I’ve written before about the power of the hand lens I prefer, but it boils down to a personal choice for each collector. Experienced numismatists, dealers and professional authenticators report excellent results using a 5X to 10X hand lens. Continue reading
Soon after I joined the American Numismatic Association’s authentication service, I went on a trip to the Philadelphia Mint. It was 1973. I spent a whole working day learning how coins were made. My boss, Charles Hoskins, the director of the American Numismatic Association Certification Service, was a former Mint employee so no doors were closed to us. The Mint was two different worlds. One was quiet the other was a noisy factory. Continue reading
Have we finally reached that point when some counterfeit coins are so “good” that they defy detection and are accepted as genuine by everyone – at least for a while? I have asked this question before because it has happened. Continue reading
How many times have you heard these words? “Grading is subjective” or “Grading is an art not a science?” That leaves a lot of room for interpretation, and we’ll examine some of that in this column. The subjective nature of grading is possibly one reason many numismatists are conservative buyers or liberal sellers. There is less risk of taking a hit to the wallet. Knowledge is power. It can be a jungle out in the marketplace where the uninformed can be eaten alive. Continue reading
I’ve been teaching and writing about coin authentication and grading since 1973. Despite this, a statement by astronaut James Lovell: “Houston, we have a problem” comes to mind. Continue reading
Have you ever heard some form of the expression “History repeats itself?” Well, sometimes I feel the same thing is going on in my professional life – only the coin types have changed. Continue reading
Each day at the grading service, I see many coins with impaired eye appeal. Proofs are hazed over, spotted, splotchy, discolored and fingerprinted while the copper coins are dirty, often with green residue. Continue reading
If you are a major dealer or experienced authenticator you may wish to skip this month’s column as I will be dealing with some common alterations that shouldn’t fool you. Continue reading