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Perfect silver storm?

I received a letter to the editor for Numismatic News. The writer was complaining about the quality of the two-coin San Francisco silver American Eagle proof set that contains a regular proof 2012-S silver Eagle and a reverse proof 2012-S silver Eagle.

A regular proof has a frosted look on the high points in the design and a mirror effect in the empty fields.

The reverse proof shows frosting in the fields and the high points are mirrored.

Proofs of either kind are beautiful coins and it is understandable that collectors want the best possible.

But what is the best possible?

This particular letter writer expressed his disappointment that the coins were not  -70 on the numerical grading scale.

He has stated what more and more collectors seem to be thinking – only Proof-70 coins will do.

Is that realistic?

In a word, no.

The desire is understandable, but the Mint’s ability to satisfy it is lacking.

This isn’t a slam at the Mint. Making proofs is a mechanical process. Even with the greatest care, there are variations in quality.

There is no question that proof quality today is far superior to that which prevailed when I began collecting in the 1960s. In those days, only the first few coins struck with proof dies would exhibit a frosted effect. In the 1970s the Mint was able to achieve this for all proof coins. Still more quality improvements followed.

However, as pronounced as the improvements have been, the expectations of quality among collectors now seem to be racing ever further ahead.

That can only lead to disappointment. Not all proof coins can be perfect. More of them are today than ever before, but they still comprise just a fraction of the total output.

We will never reach a point where all proof coins are perfect.

Will this cause discouragement among the buyers of Mint proof products?

It could.

If I were head of the Mint I would worry about this. It could be a perfect storm heading toward it.

I can’t think of a way to counter it.

Can you?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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2 Responses to Perfect silver storm?

  1. gluemark says:

    Good Day,
    Once again, people take the fun out of collecting. No one is happy buying a limited edition product…they want the best and expect it. I think the US Mint can avoid this “Perfect Storm” by hiring an outside grading company (PCGS, ANAS, and NGC etc) to assess and grade only the perfect coins. (Even then the coins will probably be re-graded by CAC). Then, the US Mint can sell the “Cream of the Crop” to the privileged at a steep premium. The rest of the coins can then be sold to the happy collectors, like me, who are interested in purchasing an example at a reasonable price. (Or the US Mint can destroy the rest and only sell perfect coins). Only then, we can see what the real demand is for the coin.

    I am not perfect and do not expect the rest of the world to be perfect either. I am happy receiving products that are of the high quality the US Mint puts out. However, the shipping is a different story.

  2. Tom Snyder says:

    Generally, 20% of slabbed coins are overgraded and 20% are undergraded. Humans aren’t perfect, and
    we are not getting slabbed coins out of some auto-grading machine. This is the reason for popular CAC second opinion stickers, and re-submissions. I notice this grade variance in paper money also. Regarding the silver eagles, I defy any collector to find the difference between a 69 and 70, especially since one can expect that 20% of the 70’s are slabbed 69 and 20% of the 69’s are slabbed 70.

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