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Tough to make PF–70 with reverse proofs

It’s a gamble to send in reverse proof Presidential dollars hoping for a PF-70 grade, but it’s paying off for some sellers.

Reverse proof Presidential dollars in PF-70 grades are hard to come by, prompting high prices.

Reverse proof Presidential dollars in PF-70 grades are hard to come by, prompting high prices.

Matt Crane of L&C Coins, Los Alamitos, Calif., said there are always buyers wanting the highest grade 2015 Coin and Chronicles sets. The sets contain a reverse proof Presidential dollar and uncirculated finish silver presidential medal.

“The majority like MS-/PF-69 sets, but there are MS-/PF-70 set purchasers,” he said.

The 70-graded sets carry significant premiums because of the low population numbers, he said.

What kind of premiums are certified PF-/MS-70 Chronicles sets bringing? Ten to twenty times the initial purchase price of $57.95 in most cases, though it depends on the President.

On eBay, the 17,000 set mintage Ike set appears to be the strongest seller, with recently completed auctions ranging from $1,430 to $1,742 in October. Most of the price for a MS-/PF-70 set is tied up in the reverse proof dollar.

Ike’s predecessor, the Truman set which also has a 17,000 set mintage, is mainly selling in best offer listings with initial asking prices between $1,250 and $1,425.

Meanwhile, a Kennedy set certified MS-/PF-70 is trending between $665 to $925 from Nov. 8 to Nov. 17. The set has a high mintage of 50,000, accounting for the lower prices.

Completed MS-/PF-70 listings of the recently released, 25,000 mintage Johnson set are scarce on eBay as grading services have just begun to return coins to submitters. Best offer listings show sellers asking $1,499 to $1,899 a set, though the offers accepted show flexibility in the prices.

While the high premiums attached to MS-/PF-70 sets might at first seem over-optimistic, there’s a good reason: reverse proofs are easily marked. This keeps most of them out of the coveted -70 grade.

On reverse proof coins, the fields have a frosted finish while the raised devices such as lettering and the central design have a mirror finish. This is opposite a normal proof coin, where the devices are frosted and the field is mirrored.

Since the devices are the highest points on the coin, the reverse proof surfaces are easily susceptible to scratches, gouges and other marks that would lower the grade from PF-70.

Crane said MS-/PF-70 sets are in demand because so many sets exhibit small damages.

“Graded PF-70 reverse proofs carry premiums because of low population numbers,” he said. “Some of the reverse proofs we’ve seen have marks on the frosted fields. It looks as if its been struck through dust or debris.”

He said a number of reverse proofs also show light scratches across the face.

Check out the new 2016 North American Coins and Prices reference book here.

Check out the new 2016 North American Coins and Prices reference book here.

“With the naked eye, it’s difficult to spot the differences between a PF-70 reverse proof and a PF-69,” Crane said. “When you magnify the coin, you can spot the differences.”

As population totals at PCGS and NGC show, there is only a slim chance the coin will come back PF-70.

Records obtained Nov. 18, of the 1,684 Truman reverse proof dollars seen by PCGS, show 84, or five percent, made PF-70 while 1,486, or 88 percent, were PF-69.

At NGC, 1,439 Truman coins were graded with 88, representing 6 percent, as PF-70 and 1,312, or 91 percent, as PF-69.

Crane said the grading numbers for reverse proofs make for high prices in the short term.
“With the 70s, you have a super low population that will keep up the premium,” he said. “I also think the sets will remain in demand for a while. Demand for the 2015 sets will be renewed when the 2016 Reagan set releases next year.”

When that happens, the market for PF-70 reverse proof Presidential dollars will take off as buyers once again face the fact that getting a perfect grade is no easy task.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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