Exhibit - Grading The Morgan Dollar

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by tmoneyeagles, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. tmoneyeagles

    tmoneyeagles Indian Buffalo Gatherer

    This thread should cover basic concepts of grading the Morgan Dollar, from grade Poor 1 to MS69. I will be using the knowledge I have, photos from Heritage, and the grading standards of the ANA to point out what the coins graded and why they graded the way they did. This thread will stick to one grading company, PCGS, to maintain consistency in grading within one company.

    In this thread I will try to remain with one date, I will try to get 1893-S for the lower grades, as that is a coin that is available in lower grades. For higher grades, you will start to see a bigger variety of dates.

    And once again all photos are courtesy of Heritage (www.ha.com)
    Without further adieu, let the grading begin.



    PO-1 - With a Poor 1, at most times, the value of the Morgan is melt value. (Depends on mintage/supply/demand) The date of the coin, and you being able to tell the coin is a Morgan Dollar, and possibly the mint mark can be identified.

    Here is an example of a PO-1 coin, graded by PCGS.

    1886-O PCGS PO1

    Here are the photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As you can see not a lot of the details of the coin are visible, but the type of coin, date, and mint mark are.




    FR-2 - With a Fair 2, the coin is mostly worn. Some of the details that weren't able to be seen in a PO1 coin will be visible in a FR-2 coin.

    Here is an example of a FR-2 coin, graded by PCGS.

    1879-CC PCGS FR-2

    Here are the photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As you can see the coin is still worn, but some details can be seen better in this coin. Some letters in Liberty are beginning to be legible, and some stars are worn, but can be seen. Parts of the curls in the hair are beginning to come defined as well. Also in contrast to the PO-1 Coin this coin has some detail in the cap as well.




    AG-3 - With an About Good 3, the rims will still be worn but more lettering will be legible than the first two grades. The obverse should have an outlined head, with the details still being worn away, the date, just like the first two coins, should be seen and legible. For the reverse, the entire design is partially worn away, like that of the other two coins, with better details.

    Here is an example of an AG-3 coin, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S PCGS AG-3

    Here are the photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Some separation can be seen in the curls of the hair, the cap has more detail and Liberty is nearly complete, and also the rim and the rest of the coin are separating themselves more, but still no detail on the rim.




    G-4 - With a Good 4, you will begin to see the peripheral lettering to be complete. The Obverse should have a full rim, and have the date, letters and design clearly outlined. The reverse should have the rim full as well, and design elements must be visible.

    Here is an example of a G-4 coin, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S PCGS G-4

    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    You are beginning to see the details of the wheat and cotton leaves, the cap and hair curls are getting more defined. The eagle is getting more feathers defined, and the lettering is bolder and clearer.




    G-6 - With a Good 6, you will have a slight increase in the amount of details, the peripheral lettering continuing to be full, and the rim being complete.

    Here is a a G-6 coin, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S PCGS G-6

    Here are the photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The details in the wreath on the reverse are starting to become more defined, as well as more of the eagle's feathers on both wings. The hair, cap, ear, and other main points are gradually getting more detail, and can be seen with photo comparisons of the G-4 and G-6.




    VG-8 - With a Very Good 8, the cotton balls are flat and identifiable, and the leaves still merge in some spots. On the reverse, one half of the eagle's right wing and one third of the left wing are smooth, and all leaves are worn, but identifiable.

    Here is a VG-8, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S PCGS VG8


    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    VG-10 - With a Very Good 10, there will be more details in the hair, and while still flat, still higher than that of a lower grade. The feathers in the wings of the eagle will also have more details, but still won't be complete. They will have in between One-quarter and One-Half of smoothness on the right wing and One-Quarter and One-Third smoothness on the left wing.

    Here is a VG-10, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S PCGS VG-10

    Here are the photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    F-12 - With a Fine 12 coin the obverse of the coin needs to have the hair line on the head clearly defined and identifiable. The cotton balls are still flat, but the two lines in each ball show clearly. The reverse of the coin has One-quarter of eagle's right wing and edge of left wing to still be smooth. The Head, neck, and breast of the eagle are flat, and the tail feathers are lightly worn. The top leaves in the wreath show heavier wear than the rest of the leaves.

    Here is an example of a F-12 coin, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S PCGS F-12

    Here are the photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    F-15 - With a Fine 15 coin there are slight differences from a Fine 12 coin. Typically, the eagle's left wing will have more details than the right, all of the feathers will be completely visible.

    Here is an example of a F-15 coin, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S F-15 PCGS

    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    VF-20 - With a Very Fine 20 coin the cotton leaves will become more distinct, but continue to be heavily worn. The leaves on the wreath of the reverse are worn but becoming more defined. The eagle's feathers are nearly complete on both wings with just a few traces of wear. The breast is smooth, and the tips of the wings are worn.

    Here is an example of a VF-20, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S PCGS VF-20


    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Rickipedia and Duke Kavanaugh like this.
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  3. tmoneyeagles

    tmoneyeagles Indian Buffalo Gatherer

    VF-25 - With a Very Fine 25 coin the details in the wings get better. The tips are still worn, but are sharper, and the feathers become more defined. More feathers on the eagle's neck will appear as well.

    1893-S VF-25 PCGS

    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The breast is still flat on the eagle, and the wreath is still picking up details, the lines in the middle of the leaves are becoming more defined. All wheat grains are present, and show separation, with wear.




    VF-30 - With a Very Fine 30 all feathers of the wings are sharp, and the other areas of the reverse such as the tips of the wings, and the wreath are still worn. There are still few feathers visible on the head and breast of the eagle, while they do still show up.

    Here is an example of a VF-30, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S VF-30 PCGS


    Here are the photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As you can see the obverse is getting better details as well, the main place in particular is the hair above the ear.




    VF-35 - With a Very fine 35 coin the details are slightly similar to VF30. The hair is more detailed, the the eagle's breast is less flat, the talons of the eagle are becoming more defined, and some while it depends on the coin, some mint luster could possibly show.

    Here is an example of a VF-35, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S VF-35 PCGS

    Here are the photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    EF-40 - With an Extremely Fine 40 coin the wear in certain areas decreases such as the hairlines and the cheek, the reverse shows almost all feathers being non-existent from the breast, the talons are flat and the other places such as the win tips, the top of legs and head all still show wear. As for the surfaces of the coin, partial mint luster may be seen.

    Here is an example of an EF-40, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S EF-40 PCGS


    Here are the photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    EF-45 - With an Extremely Fine 45 coin the coin is becoming sharper all around. The coin is becoming less flat, and the lines in the hair and cotton balls and surrounding elements are becoming more detailed. The eagle's breast is starting to get some details to it, enough where you might be able to make out part of a few tail feathers, and the talons are still slightly flat. The coin has half of it's mint luster still present.

    Here is an example of an EF-45, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S EF-45 PCGS


    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    AU-50 - With an Almost Uncirculated 50 coin, traces of wear show on hair above eye, ear, edges of cotton leaves and high upper fold of cap. Partial detail is visible on tops of cotton balls, and the luster is gone from the cheek. There are traces of wear on the reverse on the eagle's breast, tops of legs, and talons. Three-quarters of mint luster is still present, and many bagmarks and nicks are visible.

    Here is an example of an AU-50, graded by PCGS.


    1893-S AU-50 PCGS


    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    AU-53 - With an Almost Uncirculated 53 the luster of the coin is nearly complete. Overall the details of the coin continue to get more defined, and less flat. Bagmarks and nicks will still show.

    Here is an example of an AU53, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S AU-53 PCGS

    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As you can see with this coin, as compared to the AU50, the luster is not only better, but the details on the reverse have visible differences as well. The eagle's breast is less worn, and starting to show details, as is the wreath, the talons, and the eagle's legs.




    AU-55 - With an Almost Uncirculated 55, the wear is very slight. Wear will show in high points of the coin, but full mint luster is still lacking from areas like the cheek. Bagmarks will remain noticeable.
    Here is an example of an AU-55, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S AU-55 PCGS

    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    There are only slight differences between the AU-53 and 55. In this case, the (condition of the obverse, not the obverse itself) caused the AU-55 to receive this grade.
    The detail in the hair is really outstanding and the cotton leaves and balls and the cap have good detail as well.




    AU-58 - With an Almost Uncirculated 58, wear will only remain in high points of the coin, such as Liberty's hair above the eye and ear, the breast feathers of the eagle. The mint luster is nearly complete, if not complete.

    Here is an example of an AU-58, graded by PCGS.

    1893-S AU-58 PCGS

    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The coin has the appearance of a mint state coin, minus the small traces of wear.




    MS-60 - With a Mint State 60 the coin will have no trace of wear. The coin will still have bagmarks and other abrasions and nicks, but there will be absolutely no trace of wear on the coin. Mint luster should be present.

    Here is an example of a MS-60, graded by PCGS.

    1902-O MS-60 PCGS

    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Rickipedia and Duke Kavanaugh like this.
  4. tmoneyeagles

    tmoneyeagles Indian Buffalo Gatherer

    MS-61/MS-62 – These are coins that feel between MS60 and MS63. These coins will have less bagmarks than a MS-60 but not than a MS-63. These coins might have also other things that are limiting them from being a MS63, such as luster not being full and flashy, or having a series of big marks that limit the coin to get such a grade.

    Here is an example of a MS-61, graded by PCGS.

    1884-S MS-61 PCGS


    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This coin has many small marks on it, along with several bigger, more distracting marks. The mark to the left of the nose, the mark from the earlobe down to the lower cheek, and the marks out to the field after the M in UNUM and the the stars following it, limit this coin from being graded any higher.

    Here is an example of a MS-62, graded by PCGS.

    1884-S MS-62 PCGS

    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This coin has the same grade limiting marks, along with the other tinier, bagmarks. The coin has three small circular gouges in the coin near the bottom of the cheek, and to the right of these there is another gouge.
    Without these four gouges, I really think this coin would have a shot to get into a 63 holder.




    MS-63 - A Mint State 63 coin will be a very attractive, but most of the time, common coin. There will be noticeable and distracting marks in areas such as the cheeks, and less so in the fields like on a MS-61/62. There will also be fewer big contact marks on a MS-63.

    Here is an example of a MS-63, graded by PCGS.

    1879-CC MS-63 PCGS

    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    While the marks in the cheek region of this coin appear harsh, it doesn’t have many more marks on the region. The luster seems to have a booming effect and is a very attractive coin, and I would grade the coin MS-63. (Although that statement is a bit subjective due to Heritage’s bright photos, although on most 63’s, somewhat of a booming luster can be seen)




    MS-64 - A Mint State 64 coin is very similar to a MS63, it will just have less bag marks on the cheek and/or fields and might have more attractive luster as well.

    Here is an example of a MS-64, graded by PCGS.


    1878 8TF MS-64 PCGS


    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This coin has far less distracting marks and has a somewhat soothing effect to it. It has a few field marks, and a few noticeable marks on the cheeks.
    Without the majority of what is visible on the cheek could make this a MS-65 coin.




    MS-65 - A Mint State 65 coin will have a very small amount of marks, usually in the field. A Mint State 66 coin will have a fewer amount of marks, and a perfect cheek, and the marks that are on the coin will be less distracting. Regarding luster, both can be the same, greater, or less than the other. This must be determined on a coin by coin basis.

    Here is an example of a MS-65, graded by PCGS.

    1879-O MS-65 PCGS

    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This coin has a lot of eye appeal, abundant luster, and only a few marks. This is a an accurately graded. MS-65 and I agree with PCGS's graded 100%.

    Here is an example of a MS-66, graded by PCGS.

    1894 MS-66 PCGS

    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This coin has an extremely clean cheek, and only a few non-distracting marks. The one part of the coin that might be limiting it from a MS67 is the neck and to the right of the number 4. This is an accurately graded MS66.




    MS-67 - The coin is basically flawless, it will have tiny imperfections, such as a tiny mark in the field, or maybe a weak strike.

    Here is an example of a MS-67, graded by PCGS.

    1904-S MS-67 PCGS

    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The coin exhibits a beautiful luster, and nearly no marks. But there are two noticeable marks in the field in between Liberty's eye and the E.




    MS-68 - The Mint State 68 coins are nearly as good as it gets. These coins have very tiny imperfections that would take one a while to see, they could be the tiniest bag mark to a slightly weak strike.

    Here is an example of a MS-68, graded by PCGS.

    1884-CC MS-68 PCGS

    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    These scans show the imperfections slightly better;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    MS-69 – And finally, there are no higher graded Morgan Dollars than MS-69. So this is the last grade that this thread will cover. A MS-69 is virtually flawless. Most flaws would likely be so small that they may only be visible under extreme magnification, although some could be seen with the naked eye.

    Here is an example of a MS-69, graded by PCGS.

    1881-S MS-69 PCGS

    Here are photos of the coin;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I hope who ever read this thread, found it informative and can use it to better understand the grading of the Morgan Dollar series.

    Thank You,

    -Travis
  5. Lugia

    Lugia ye olde UScoin enthusiast

    very nice composition of photos and grades.
  6. Collect89

    Collect89 Coin Collector

    Nice post tmoneyeagles!:)

    What do you do when the coin has a Fine 12 obverse & a VG 8 reverse?

    Thanks for the post.

    Very best regards,
    collect89

    P.S. That 1902-O is a great example of an MS-60.
  7. tmoneyeagles

    tmoneyeagles Indian Buffalo Gatherer

    Thank You :)

    Thank you, and to answer your question I believe it would be taken on a case by case basis. It depends on which specific areas are worn down, if in area in the lettering is worn down to that of a VG8 but the rest of the coin is that of a F12, the coin may receive a F12, it may receive VG-10. If the eagle is worn to that of a VG8 but the rest is a F12, the coin may get a VG8. It depends on the region of the coin that is worn down and the severity of the wear.
  8. The Penny Lady®

    The Penny Lady® Coin Dealer

    Travis, excellent thread and definitely worthy of high praise and acclamation. I am nominating it for the Clinker award too!!!!
  9. krispy

    krispy krispy

    Nice piece of work Travis! :thumb:

    PCGS should get you to write descriptions for Photograde as this is on par with their grading tool in terms of being succinct and a quick reference when needed.

    This is a great resource and a benefit to have on CoinTalk.
  10. Collect89

    Collect89 Coin Collector

    I usually parrot what I have been told before- The obverse is the money side of the coin. The obverse will set the grade. The reverse can bring down the grade rather easily but in order for the reverse to bring up the grade, it would need to be very superior (at least 2 or more points in an MS coin).
  11. tmoneyeagles

    tmoneyeagles Indian Buffalo Gatherer


    Thank you so much!
    I have subscribed to all your threads but I haven't had the time or patience to read them all, in entirety, yet.
    I think I know what I'm going to do now... :smile
    Thanks again!
  12. Strikeluster

    Strikeluster New Member

    Travis,

    You put a lot of effort into the formation of your thread. I like how you post little comments about the grade at the base of each photo. And the photography is great. The powers that be should make sure this thread is placed some where on CT as a reference tool.

    Thanks,

    Steve
  13. tmoneyeagles

    tmoneyeagles Indian Buffalo Gatherer

    Wouldn't be that bad of an idea...
    Although I think the Kool-Aid makers wouldn't want me having to do anything with their site. :D
    It would be cool when ya' think about it though. You never know, I may end up working for a TPG.
    Thanks Krispy!


    That is very true. There are instances where the reverse can make the grade for the coin as a whole, but it is rather difficult. It just goes back to it being on a coin by coin basis, no two coins are alike, so it will always be hard to say.
    Odds are, if the obverse isn't compliant with the F12, it probably won't get F12.
    Hope that helps!
  14. krispy

    krispy krispy


    +1
    ...I also rated the thread at the top of the page too, Excellent! :smile
  15. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    see the sig
  16. tmoneyeagles

    tmoneyeagles Indian Buffalo Gatherer

    I did put quite a bit of my time in this thread. I can't really remember how many hours but it was a lot. Sipping Cokes to stay awake. :D
    I just thought I would try to post basically everything I would've wanted to know about grading the Morgan Dollar when I started out. Believe it or not the Morgan Dollar used to be one of my weak points, and now I can say it is my strongest points.

    Thank You Steve, I'm very glad you enjoyed the thread.


    Thank You Krispy :)

    Will I be included in your Exhibit Museum thread?
  17. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Great post! Helped me understand U.S. coin grading much more, as well as my only slabbed coins grade (a morgan). Thanks for posting it :hail:
  18. Duke Kavanaugh

    Duke Kavanaugh The Big Coin Hunter

    Nice thread!!

    I hope Illini doesn't see this as with all those 93S's he'll want to start a grading set of those too :D
  19. tmoneyeagles

    tmoneyeagles Indian Buffalo Gatherer

    Glad I could help :) Thanks

    Yeah, but that would be a little less affordable. :D
  20. illini420

    illini420 1909 Collector

    Very cool thread, even though they are just boring white Morgan Dollars ;) I haven't really studied Morgan Dollars much, but I know from other series there are differences in strikes as you start to look at coins of different dates and coins from different mints. That's why I did just one date/mm combination for my grading set :) I didn't notice anything that looked really out of place though in the examples you posted. Thanks for posting it!!!

    Haha, yeah, while the 1908-S IHC's aren't exactly cheap, that is a set that is likely out of my league. Anyways, with that sort of budget I'd be building a 1909-S IHC grading set AND a 1909-S VDB Lincoln grading set!!!! :thumb:
  21. I only own one Morgan (18880), but you have convinced me that it is an MS64 and not an MS63 as stated on the holder. Nice thread! TC

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