Define “Tooling”

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Randy Abercrombie, Dec 5, 2020.

  1. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    Several days ago @C-B-D showed a coin labeled as having been tooled. A previous owner had embellished details of the coin in an effort to improve the grade. In short, it was a deceptive act. When I think of tooling on a coin my first reaction is the piece has been deceptively manipulated. Possibly one of the most negative comments a TPG could use on a label.

    The coin below is a coin that I own. It is labeled as having a tooled reverse. Though the photos don’t show it well, the “tooling” is not deceptive manipulation. In fact, it is apparent that a previous owner in years past attempted to remove grime between the bars with a pocket knife. In my view, this was not an action that was done to deceive.

    As far as I am concerned, it makes no difference as I have no plans to ever sell the coin. But it brings a question to mind. Should “tooling” be used to describe damage that is not intentionally deceptive?

    0F61C1BA-C813-4298-9739-A7FBE52310D7.jpeg 4F44C285-7D8B-47DD-92A9-1D8F5B1E4861.jpeg
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2020
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  3. C-B-D

    C-B-D Well-Known Member

    This was the coin you're referring to. Re-carved hair and shield lines. 20201011_155343.jpg
  4. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    Inspector43 likes this.
  5. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector

    I see a lot of good information, but, was the question answered?

    Should “tooling” be used to describe damage that is not intentionally deceptive?

    In the case of the USA Bar Token, the tooling was more of an attempt to clean. In the second case it seems to be more of an attempt to change the grade.
    Randy Abercrombie likes this.
  6. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    @C-B-D was helping me to illustrate my question. I haven’t seen anyone jump in yet to elaborate. But yes I agree with you. I feel that tooling should describe a deceptive action.
    Inspector43 likes this.
  7. yakpoo

    yakpoo Member

    I've often fantasized doing something to make Mercury Dime split bands look better, but I've never had the guts to try.
    Randy Abercrombie likes this.
  8. Robidoux Pass

    Robidoux Pass Well-Known Member

    Who makes the determination between intentional tooling to deceive and improve the grade versus the damage in the attempt to "clean?"
    Randy Abercrombie likes this.
  9. Publius2

    Publius2 Well-Known Member

    Well, there are certainly tooled coins where the intent is to deceive and perhaps of all tooled designations those are perhaps the most prevalent. However, I think it is appropriate for some coins to be labeled as tooled where the intent may or may not have been to deceive. In fact, these latter examples may lie in that vague gray area between tooled, damaged, scratched, and improperly cleaned. In some cases I'm not sure the grader can transport himself adequately into the mind of the perpetrator. In the case of your Bar Copper, I think it may lie in that gray area. If the perp had used a wire brush to clean the grime out, then it would be improperly cleaned but when he used a pointed tool, then maybe a tooled judgement is appropriate.

    I tend to agree with you that tooled sounds worse than the other details grades. So, maybe it's a philosophy question: If a grader has the choice of deciding between which detail grade to apply, should he apply the worst or the best? I dunno!
  10. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    Well said and makes good sense.
  11. yakpoo

    yakpoo Member

    Just a guess...but if I were the TPG and guaranteeing the grade, I would tend toward the worse case scenario...since there's no way to prove "intent".
  12. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    Unless you’re the one who did it, you’d just be assuming intent. It either is or isn’t
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  13. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    Yep... I get it now. Intent cannot be defined. I appreciate it fellows.
    fretboard likes this.
  14. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    More importantly it just doesn’t matter either. If labels were saying “accidental hole” or “tooled with good intentions” etc they would get mocked constantly. Once it’s done it’s done.
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  15. tommyc03

    tommyc03 Senior Member

    IMHO Publius had it the best really. Best answer. Having said that...Tooledlydo!
    Randy Abercrombie likes this.
  16. Seattlite86

    Seattlite86 Outspoken Member

    @Randy Abercrombie Randy, I agree with the lot. It's hard to know the intent of the person taking the tool to the coin, and regardless of intent, the coin comes out altered. Since you've got a beautiful item that you're happy with, I'd suggest ignoring the label and enjoy the token :)
    Randy Abercrombie likes this.
  17. Crate Digga

    Crate Digga Member

    Truly embarassed to own this coin. I bid on a lot of Seated Halves, the others were cull grade and through the flip this looked desirable. I never put much thought into 'tooling' but my god, this coin is a testiment on how NOT to do it.
  18. Publius2

    Publius2 Well-Known Member

    Let me tell this story even though it is only related to the thread by virtue of being about a tooled coin. I was attending my local coin club meeting a couple of years ago and one of the members who is a smart cookie and an experienced collector tossed me a major TPG slab encapsulating a Draped Bust dollar. It was straight-graded EF-40 and looked to be a very nice coin and I said so. Here was the exchange, more or less:

    Him: I won the on-line auction and judged the coin from the photographs which means I was relying to some extent on the TPG's grade. I am so hacked off. Look with your loupe at the junction of the field and the right edge of Liberty's hair, face and bust and tell me what you see.

    Me: I think I see a little line, almost like a doubling of the bust's outline at the junction. I'm not sure I am seeing what I described.

    Him: No, you are seeing it accurately. This coin has been tooled by a fairly skilled person for the purpose of more sharply defining the outline of the devices. Pretty well done and impossible to see from a photograph.

    Me: You spent several thousand dollars on this coin. What are you going to do?

    Him: I'm going to shove it up the auction houses's and grader's posterior and get my money back.

    Several months later:

    Me: Did you?

    Him: Yes and with great satisfaction!

    I learned another very valuable lesson from this and this time not at my own expense.
  19. Mainebill

    Mainebill Wild Bill

    Yeah I’ve seen all manner of tooled coins from scary to horrible. And I think it’s a tpg catch grade for any manipulation or damage at times too
    Randy Abercrombie likes this.
  20. yakpoo

    yakpoo Member

  21. KSorbo

    KSorbo Well-Known Member

    The tooling on the Standing Liberty would be much more of a deal breaker for me than the over-aggressive cleaning on the Bar Copper. At least with the copper someone wasn’t carving in new design elements. I would want to know the difference.
    masterswimmer likes this.
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