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Down to the last point

I have had several letters and emails from individuals wondering why new coin issues submitted by them to third-party grading services won’t come back with -69 or -70 grades as they think they should.

A mere -68 is terribly disappointing.

They also ask about resubmissions that come back with a lower grade than it was originally assigned.

No question this is frustrating.

Grading has been frustrating collectors for as long as I have been a collector.

It is not an exact science. The hoopla over computer grading two decades ago was just that: It turned out that humans do it better.

But humans aren’t perfect.

Any professional will tell you that if the opinion of any two of them differs by a point, that is tantamount to agreement. It is just not possible for every person to grade every coin identically.

Five or 10 points would be a horse of a different color.

So why do we depend on such a flawed system?

Nobody has invented anything better.

As long as that is the case, and as long as hobbyists have decided that MS-70 coins are so much more valuable than MS-69 coins, the human element will ensure that differences will continue to arise and this will prompt more questions.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."