How important is the appearance of Full Steps on a Jefferson/Monticello nickel to the overall grade of the coin?
Full Steps is a designation treated the same as are Full Split Bands on Mercury dimes and Full Head on Standing Liberty quarters. This doesn’t indicate the coin is fully struck or necessarily without some indication of abrasions or wear. The appearance of Full Steps is important to some collectors who seek the best quality coin possible, but it doesn’t disqualify a coin from a grade. You can still find either a Mint State-65 or an MS-65 Full Steps example.
Won’t a Full Steps Jefferson/Monticello nickel be more valuable than a nickel of the same grade but without Full Steps?
Usually, but not necessarily. There are several dates for which Full Step examples are rare, while there are many other dates for which Full Steps are commonly encountered.
Is there a period in which the Monticello reverse nickels were usually struck of particularly poorer quality?
The old master hub from which Denver and San Francisco dies for nickels were made between the late 1960s and 1971 had been overused, resulting in poor quality nickels during that period. Things started to improve in 1967, when a new master hub was also used. The next poor quality strikes come in 1976. You can expect to find Full Step nickels easily beginning with 1990, when the reverse master hub detail was strengthened.
Which prooflike Morgan dollar would be the better buy, that with contact marks in the obverse field or on Liberty’s cheek?
You need to judge each coin on its individual merits. This is a classic example of when eye appeal matters in addition to the condition of the coin. I would not buy a prooflike coin sight unseen for this reason.
Since Salomon Brothers is no longer in business (bought out by Travelers in 1998 and absorbed into Morgan Stanley), I wonder if the Professional Coin Grading Service 3000 would be a suitable alternative as an industry barometer?
When you speak of an industry barometer, I am assuming you mean the health of the price of coins rather than the health of the business of coins. The PCGS 3000 is a good index that gives us a macro view of what is going on with third-party certified coins. My Numismatic Stock Index gives additional insight into the business of coins by tracking the stock of the few publicly traded companies. The NSI still leaves out how well the majority of dealers are doing. Neither index measures raw coin trade activity, how much business is transacted between dealers and collectors rather than being dealer-to-dealer transactions, or pure bullion transactions made with speculators.
The PCGS 3000 is a smaller segment of the market since it only considers coins slabbed by PCGS. It is the closest thing there is to a barometer. Doesn’t Krause Publications maintain prices used to publish the Standard Catalogs and U.S. Coin Digest? Why not tap that database to watch coin and currency prices? Like the stock market indices, a sample of coins can be created and a price analysis can be run.
There is more than one coin market. You have platforms ranging from national and regional shows and auctions to local shops, the Internet and other venues. I would suggest the health of the market be examined the same way stock markets are analyzed – through a series of coincidence barometers. I would include (1) PCGS 3000 index, (2) Numismatic Stock Index, (3) spot price of gold and silver bullion, (4) U.S. Mint monthly sales of gold and silver American Eagle coins, and (5) American Numismatic Association annual membership statistics. Readers, any further suggestions?
Is there a Deep Mirror Prooflike designation for Peace dollars?
The most recognized third-party grading services do not offer a Prooflike designation for any Peace dollars they certify. If there is a truly DMPL Peace dollar out there, I haven’t seen it.
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