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Time to focus on enhanced coin quality


Every collector knows the better the quality of a coin, the higher the price.

Does the Mint?

A reader emailed me his observations about the Enhanced Uncirculated Sets he ordered last week.

He has gotten delivery already.

Kudos to the Mint for the rapid turnaround.

The logistics are working well.

Now back to quality of the coins themselves.

This is what my Texas reader reports:

“I received my five sets over the weekend and was very disappointed.

“Four of the five sets had a significant/noticeable flaw on its finish.

“The Mint will take them back, but, no replacement as they are sold out.

“I have attached four photos, though the flaws did not photograph well.

Buzz0810 A

“On the first penny, you can see significant abrasion on Lincoln’s shoulder and around the word Liberty.

Buzz0810 B

“On the first quarter, there is a thumb- sized, tea-colored imprint on the coin.

Buzz0810 C

“On the second penny, you can see discoloration along the rim at the 6-9 o’clock position.

Buzz0810 D

“On the last quarter, there is a less significant tea stain mark along the rim and over the word America.

"I know that it's only a $30 set, but could they have at least pretended to have had quality control at work when they made these coins?

“If I was a worker at the San Francisco Mint, I would be embarrassed.”

That is the collectors summation of what he found.

I have posted the images here with his comments.

He is right.

It is difficult to make out the imperfections.

But what I know is that veteran collectors have a practiced eye that goes right to a problem area.

The question becomes one of whether this is an isolated incident.

Four sets out of 225,000 is an infinitesimally small number.

The Mint will take them back, as the reader mentions.

We will have to wait for more individual collector judgments as more sets are delivered.

What we can say is that this is a new process.

The Mint gave up matte proofs in 1916 because collectors just did not like the look.

They are highly valued now.

The enhancing process, if I may call it that, is new for the Mint.

It is described by the Mint as “using a combination of laser frosted areas and an unpolished field that accentuates design details, creating a unique contrast distinctly different from the mirror–like finish of proof coins.”

With all the theater of a sellout not being a sellout, it is probably no surprise that it has taken us 10 days to focus on the important aspect of quality.

Thanks to my reader in Texas, we start today.

What do your coins look like?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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