Author Archives: F. Michael Fazzari

Which details are most important?

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

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Look carefully for hairlines on uncs

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

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What we learn from one fake

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

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What do you do with ugly coins?

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

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Altered coins try to dupe the unwary

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

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If buying bullion, make it high grade

The price of gold is at record highs. Confidence in the dollar is dropping and demand for small size foreign bullion coins continues to rise. Continue reading

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Study real coins to detect fakes

The concern raised by Richard Francis Jr. about helping counterfeiters improve their product by revealing diagnostic imperfections found on fakes is an old one. I believe he has taken the wrong approach to the matter and offered well meaning but impractical solutions. Continue reading

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Look to luster when grading foreign

Foreign coins can present some unique problems for graders. Fortunately, all of these impediments can be overcome with familiarly, study and practice. Continue reading

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Mintmarks added to 1932 quarter

At the last coin show I attended, a dealer stopped by the Independent Coin Grading booth to have me authenticate a group of 1932-D quarters.  Unfortunately, a few of his coins were altered. Continue reading

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Forget what you know with MS-61

I’m frequently asked how to tell the difference between an MS-61 or MS-62 coin. The answer becomes surprisingly simple once you learn to separate the various factors that determine the Mint State levels in the uncirculated range. Continue reading

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