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e-Letters: July 22, 2022

From the July 15 Numismatic News E-Newsletter

If you could change one thing about current grading standards, what would it be and why?

I would like to see separate obverse and reverse grades for coins and a combined net grade overall.

We see a lot of coins where one side is much nicer than the other side.

Edward Pacio
Paso Robles, Calif.

I know you only asked for one thing, but I have two. I think it’s ridiculous to have four grades for VF (20, 25, 30 and 35), while only using to two (40 and 45) for XF coins. Eliminate VF-25 and VF-35. Also, I think all of them should adopt the same policy regarding net grading: Stop doing it.

Paul Malone
Forest Lake, Minn.

Easy. Make it affordable for the amateur collector to gets coins graded. I wanted one coin graded. Would cost me over $150.

Tom Kingsley
Seattle, Wash.

Make more affordable, especially shipping.

Joseph Terrana
Address withheld

I would knock off all Deep Cameo stuff. Either Cameo or not. Toning should not be considered. A ding should not disqualify steps or bands.

No “+.” Either it is a grade or it is not. No in-betweens.

Why? Someone always changes the rules to please the high rollers.

Grading is 1 through 70, not, i.e., 66+ Ultra Deep Cameo with a twist!

Benjamin Lanza
Near Cleveland, Ohio

I would reduce the number of different grades and simplify the definitions.

Learning how to grade is much more difficult to master than when I first started to collect. The complexity can be linked to the decline of the hobby and has made swindling the public easier for the unethical.

In many cases, the difference in value from one grade to the next is absurd as self-appointed experts subjectively inflate grades when selling and under-grade when buying.

Saying that grading is subjective is a phony excuse for cheating others. With uniform grading standards and adequately differentiated grades, consensus on any given coin’s grade should be commonplace. The current grading system results in too many arguments and hard feelings.

Bruce Frohman
Modesto, Calif.

I think there needs to be a better refinement of the worn coins since many people start out collecting with making type sets and purchasing lower grade coins, which they can afford to complete sets. But there are many degrees of poor to VG that need to be defined. Example: Buffalo nickels. Many have worn dates but if the date can be read with the naked eye, I think it is worth more than one with a date readable under magnification, but they are all poor. But those collectors need to know how to value their coins and grade them the same as those who want near mint coins.

Mary Jane Campbell
West Union, Ohio

When I send off a coin that is a variety, I would like to get a holder back with the variety on it. When I have paid the extra money for a variety designation, I don’t like it when it comes back minor variety or worse yet nothing at all.

Timothy McAfee
Address withheld

I find early U.S. coinage is graded easier and often higher than I feel is correct.

Ernie Grassey
Scituate, Mass.

The grading standards for well circulated coins are OK and not really controversial, but everything from AU-55 to MS-63 is a mess. The four criteria – contact marks, strike, luster and eye appeal (or special attributes) – need to all be considered in all the grades that surround the 60 mark.

Vincent Kurt Bellman
Address withheld

I think they should not give toned coins higher grades just because of the toning. The coin will age and continue to tone until it gets ugly. Will you get back the extra you paid for the toned coin then? Probably not.

Scott Anderson
Address withheld

If there is only one thing I would change about grading it would be that no cleaned, dipped, wizzed, polished or market acceptable cleaned coins are never graded at all.

Richard Moretti
Address withheld

Set up a scale for eye appeal. There are some really ugly high grade coins out there.

Horst S.

I would eliminate the plus (+) and Cameo/Deep Cameo designations used by NGC and PCGS, as well as the asterisk (*) used by NGC. Let the viewer decide whether or not a coin is superior for its grade, has excellent eye appeal or the devices stand out against the fields. In my opinion, NGC and PCGS added these modifiers in order to appease dealers as, by doing do, dealers can now sell a plus-graded or Cameo-graded coin for a higher price. Personally, I ignore these designations and rely upon my own judgment regarding a coin’s attractiveness, as, like many things in life, it’s “in the eye of the beholder.” I do, however, look for a CAC sticker as an indication that NGC/PCGS have not over-graded a coin.

James Sibley
Spring, Texas

If I would change one thing in coin grading there would be no such thing as a MS brown copper coin. MS coins should be red. Brown copper coins, in my eyes, are at best extra fine. I will never buy a brown copper coin graded MS-60 or higher. Uncirculated coins are red.

Ed Woolsey
Forest City, Mo.

Dark, ugly toning on silver coins should be incorporated into the grading standards. Somehow this negative appearance (in my opinion) should be shown as a “-” (minus sign) on the certification holder insert. I do know usually the discounted auction price realized reflects this dark toning.

Steve Cheaney
Address Withheld

Remove the word “Cleaned” from graded coins. If they can give the word “UNC Details,” give the numbers! Everyone knows the coin has been cleaned at one point or another. I heard the remarks: if it doesn’t show cartwheels, the coin was cleaned. Not so! Metal will change over time in color and cartwheels are lost.

Rich Stevenson
Lexington, Tenn.