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Coin Clinic: What’s a super grade?


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By Richard Giedroyc

I have been buying rolls of the Presidential dollars and cherry picking them for examples with no flaws or flaws that are small and inconspicuous. I expect the majority of these coins are at least MS-67 and some should be higher. You said sellers are getting good prices for super grade common modern coins. Is this true for Presidential dollars? If so, what is considered a super grade; MS67-70, MS 68-70 or MS 69-70? I need this info to decide if I should get them slabbed.

I would not consider a Presidential dollar coin that is certified Mint State 67 to be a “super” grade. Any Presidential dollar coin in less than MS-69 as certified by one of the most recognized third party certification services would not meet the criteria I meant.

Business strike clad Eisenhower dollar coins in certified MS-67 and higher would command a really strong price since Ikes were not manufactured to the same standards as are the much more recently issued Presidential dollars.

I looked at some very high grade certified Presidential dollar coins online before answering this letter. There were very few certified Mint State coins, with most being certified Proofs for which there was very little interest. I would term the price now being realized for most to be modest.

Incidentally, coin dealers often submit bulk quantities of these coins to a service, hoping a few will come back with these “super” grades. Dealers pay significantly less per coin for these bulk submissions than will an individual submitting just a few coins. You might want to consult with a dealer to see if by going through that dealer you can get a better price to have your coins certified.


I just read an alarming Viewpoint editorial in the December 10 issue of Numismatic News in which the writer (Scott Gardner) indicates third party certification services may be lowering their standards for coin grades. Does this appear to be true?

Experienced coin collectors and dealers will always urge you to buy the coin, not the holder. This is a reason why auction lot viewing is conducted prior to the auction. You must still rely on your own opinion of the coin in question. The major third party certification services have published standards by which they assign grades to coins. Some of these standards have changed in time, with appropriate revisions made to their published standards accordingly. Mint State grades between 60 and 70 have always been challenging to assign and for this reason are usually where the consistency of opinions of the quality of a coin may sometimes become a problem.


The National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coin has a dome shape to it. It obviously won’t stack. Are there other coins that have had this problem?

The 1907 High Relief Saint-Gaudens $20 double eagle quickly comes to mind. The coin received adverse publicity for this reason. About 1000 A.D. the Byzantine Empire issued cup shaped copper and gold scyphate coins that were likely as challenging to strike, but were easy to stack.


E-mail inquiries only. Do not send letters in the mail. Send to Giedroyc@Bright.net. Because of space limitations, we are unable to publish all questions.


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