Grading inflation - is it a recent phenomenon?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by nerosmyfavorite68, May 15, 2022.

  1. nerosmyfavorite68

    nerosmyfavorite68 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I thought the same thing about the reverse of the Philip after I posted it. The HJB tag said "mint state." However, I couldn't come up with any other examples from my photographed coins. There's some that are EF by wear but have various faults. The Philip will have to do for the moment.

    EF: Something really sharp with virtually no wear.

    The really tough/nebulous ones would be something with very little wear but lousy preservation. Or, like kirispupis brought up, certain specialty types, like this guy:

    I really couldn't put a grade on it. The coin's half cleaned state obscures some details and the reverse was a mess on day one. However, it's one of the best Sear 805's that I've come across.

    My grade: really nice for the type and I like it. :joyful::happy:
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  3. Mr.MonkeySwag96

    Mr.MonkeySwag96 Well-Known Member

    I’ve always associated “grading inflation” with US coins, particularly those graded by NGC and PCGS. This grading inflation is the reason why some people justify having CAC stickers on their slabbed US coins.

    I’ve never thought of grade inflation for ancients because the grade isn’t as important for ancients compared to US coins. The grading of ancient coins varies depending on the dealer or auction house. I believe CNG is one of the better graders of ancients

    I agree, it’s especially annoying when Vcoins or eBay sellers fail to mention important details like bronze disease. Recently, I bought a Claudius As with bronze disease that wasn’t evident on the seller’s pics.


    The denarius pictured above was graded by the dealer to be “About good VF.” Which is a weird grade. Either a coin is Good VF or its not Good VF. I’ve never seen anybody else describe a coin as being “about Good VF.” If it’s not a Good VF, then it’s just a regular VF.

    What’s your opinion on my denarius’s grade?
    Last edited: May 16, 2022
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  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    VF; nice toning; a bit off-center on the reverse. A lovely and desirable denarius.
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  5. charley

    charley Well-Known Member

    Responding to the thread title question only:

  6. nerosmyfavorite68

    nerosmyfavorite68 Well-Known Member

    On the old school scale, aVF, but ditto Roman collector's sentiments, a lovely and desirable denarius. Very nice! Heck, that's the grade that counts; lovely and desirable :joyful:.

    While looking through my few slabs for the Athenian owl (it must have been in a flip, I guess - all slabs were presents), I came across an Alexander drachm in 'choice Fine.' Why would anyone slab that?
    Last edited: May 16, 2022
  7. nerosmyfavorite68

    nerosmyfavorite68 Well-Known Member

    Excuse the lousy photo, please. I'll upgrade it in the future if the proper stand/extra lighting helps.

    I think Matt Kreuzer got the grade right in 1996. That's pretty much what I'd grade the coin.

    Otho - 69 - AR Denarius - 2.9g SECVRITAS RSC 17 - F+ aF.jpg
  8. DonnaML

    DonnaML Well-Known Member

    Why? To be cynical, in order to facilitate trying to sell it for at least twice the price that might otherwise be feasible. Just compare the "buy it now" prices for slabbed vs. raw ancient coins on Ebay, no matter how common.
  9. nerosmyfavorite68

    nerosmyfavorite68 Well-Known Member

    True, DonnaML.

    Anyway, the slabs were a very thoughtful present from my dad. The local coin shop has a small array of ancients, sometimes NGC slabbed. The NGC slabs have yielded a few really nice coins. I flipped through the perhaps 8 or 9 of them this morning, while looking for an Athenian Tet that he bought for me. I guess it was one of the non-slabbed ones. I'd like to free some of them, but being klutzy, I'm afraid of damaging them. For instance, the Metapontum (I'm hoping I'm spelling that correctly, off the top of my head) silver would look much better in a flip.

    I told him about vcoins, but he's not comfortable buying online anymore.
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  10. nerosmyfavorite68

    nerosmyfavorite68 Well-Known Member

    Can someone bail me out and post an EF Roman coin, preferably raw? My example was a little iffy, and my photography's not going to improve quickly enough to post a true EF.
  11. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    It's helpful to compare coins side-by-side to see the differences in grade.

    This Domitian (Ex. Biaggi) and Caracalla are both effectively FDC by the combination of strike, grade, and style:

    I'd put this Pius (Ex. Biaggi) a hair of a grade lower ("nearly FDC") due to the subtle die break (as-struck) and a couple very minor marks. A coin which is Mint State isn't necessarily "FDC":


    These coins would be conventionally EF:

    This Hadrian was in a Ch AU* 5/5-5/5 holder:

    This Commodus (Ex. Biaggi) is indeed marginally lower-grade and was in an AU* 5/5-4/5 holder:

    This Hadrian (Ex. Caruso) would likely be an NGC Ch EF. It has a bit more wear than the AUs above but is still relatively high grade for the era with a strong strike:


    This Trajan (Ex. Evans) would fall as an "about EF". The reverse is stronger than the obverse, so you generally split the difference:


    This Vespasian (Ex. Biaggi) was in an NGC Ch VF holder and I'd tend to agree with that grade:

    This Vespasian is ex. Apostolo Zeno with a 200+ year pedigree and has clearly seen some wear. I'd grade it a VF:


    Overall, there is a large degree of subjectivity applied to grading. Luster plays a role and is challenging to capture in a static image, hence the benefits of viewing in-hand or using a dealer.

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited: May 16, 2022
  12. DonnaML

    DonnaML Well-Known Member

    Very instructive, @AncientJoe. Of course, I find all those coins to be completely gorgeous regardless of grade!

    Here's how one dealer (Arete Coins), from whom I purchased both of my Imperial aurei, sees the difference between "good very fine" and just "very fine":

    Vespasian aureus (with 1910 provenance to De Sartiges Collection), described as "Couple of small edge cuts. Good very fine":

    Antoninus Pius aureus, described as "VF, toned, one minor edge mark":


    I'm sure there are dealers who would have called the first one Extra Fine, but I think the dealer's grade was fair, and consistent with the coin's description in a 1938 catalog as "très beau."

    It's obvious even to my relatively uneducated eyes that the second one shows more wear, but that didn't bother me in the least. They both passed the "I like it" test with flying colors -- the impressive provenance of the first certainly didn't hurt, even though at the time of purchase it went back only to 1938 -- and the dealer's grades didn't even enter into my purchase decisions.
  13. scarborough

    scarborough Well-Known Member

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    1. I've recently purchased the above stater that was graded simply as 'good very fine.' I think it confirms the comments of others here on how much any one criterion of grading usually isn't enough to capture the information necessary for an informed purchase.
    2. I for one appreciate the often scrupulous comments from CNG that point out defects that are not obvious from a photo.
    3. Of course buyers still need a healthy dose of caution when purchasing, even from respected dealers.
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