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Score with coins graded poor?

Gold and silver bullion might not have been booming at the Central States Numismatic Society convention April 19-21, but there were still interesting things going on.

I learned about a new segment of the market that is growing.

Ever thought of collecting coins graded PO-1? I hadn’t, but it is apparently becoming an in-thing to do.

I googled a definition off the website:

"The lowest grade is Poor-1 (PO1): A coin so worn coin that it is almost unidentifiable. It is not considered collectible except for extremely rare issues."

Times have changed since that definition was written.

Apparently the competitiveness bred by the existence of registry sets by the grading services has expanded. Not content to have the best set ever assembled, populated by MS-70s and the like, some collectors are now going to the other extreme: sets in PO-1.

I held a 1968-D Kennedy half dollar in my hand when I was at the table of Greg Allen of St. Paul, Minn.

I don’t think anybody would doubt what it was if they saw the coin outside of its slab.

What they would doubt is the price.

Greg was reluctant to be pinned down on an exact price. I expect because the area is so new that if he finds an eager buyer he won’t want to be anchored to a casual price quoted to me for a news story.

He was comfortable in telling me that it will sell at a price running into multiple hundreds of dollars.

How high is up?

Well, he cited $1,500 as the price of a PO-1 1970-D half dollar.

That’s the key date available only in the mint sets of that year. The 1968-D was available to anyone in circulation.

Does this new field mean that rock tumblers will be employed to reduce 1968-D half dollars worth only their silver value to such a worn state that the price soars?

Greg admitted that there was such a possibility, but he did not expect it soon.

Perhaps the right to brag about having a collection of coins in the worst possible condition will be contagious. After all, you will have no worries about preserving the coins in a pristine state as you do for MS-70 pieces.

Is that peace of mind worth a high price?

For some, apparently so.