GRADING is an integral part of collecting – YOUR VIEWS assist to improve todays thinking?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by SwK, Jan 24, 2016.

  1. SwK

    SwK Junior Member

    Coins are Art, perfection is in the eye of the beholder, it embodies colour, texture the skill
    of a ‘master’ to paint, engrave a piece of beauty that will last forever into history and forever

    Dream coins to me are those that when you see them, touch them, they speak to you “I am beautiful, love me and buy me”. This is the obsession of a collector, the emotion of the individual who wishes to own a piece of history. The collector enjoys studying history to know what was his past then he will have a wider spectrum of the future.

    To have these above thoughts about a Roman Bronze is a rarity, as it is hard to find an authentic coins in the preservation of real meaning of a ‘natural’ bronze Roman coin. With Gold or Silver it is far easier, only here we need to be careful about the coin, if it is genuine. Over the last 65 years Gold and Silver were in full trays at Leu in Switzerland, Bronze choice pieces were always in a small box in the back office tucked away. The coin struck in vast quantities and used by the ‘plebeians’ but the most difficult to find today and were always hidden away in the back office in a small black box an area of Classical Numismatics that could not be enjoyed by everybody as the pieces in a quality state of preservation were rare.

    The Roman Empire
    Claudius, 41 – 54 above

    Sestertius 50-54, Æ 29.97 g. TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG P M TR P IMP P P Laureate head r. Rev. SPES – AVGVSTA Spes, draped, advancing l., holding flower in upraised r. hand and raising skirt with l.; in exergue, S C. C 85. BMC 192. RIC 115. CBN 216.
    The finest portrait of Claudius on a Roman bronze well struck on a full flan with
    an untouched green-brown patina, good extremely fineEx Waddell 2, 1987, 480 and Leu 52, 1991, 167 sales. From the William James Conte collection.

    The fact that Claudius choses Spes, the goddess of hope, to occupy such a prominent place on his coinage, makes it clear that she was present in his thoughts. Carson suggests the type was introduced in the accession year of 41 because his own birthday, August 1, was the day of the vota to Spes, and in that accession year, Claudius invoked her assistance on behalf of his newborn son, Britannicus.Spes was also the goddess of the future, which gave her a prominent role in certain kinds of occasions, especially weddings and births, the latter of which made her valuable to children. With all of this in mind, his choice of Spes was especially appropriate during the event-filled year of 41.
    Carson notes that the Spes type afterward became a standard dynastic type for imperial heirs. In this case the reverse inscription, SPES AVGVSTA, takes on a more complete dimension by suggesting hope for the empire through the imperial family. Kent notes that by the time the later Spes sestertii were minted by Claudius, the “hope” of the Imperial succession had been transferred from Britannicus to his adopted son, Nero.The existence of numerous temples and altars to Spes in the capital, and the fine renderings of the goddess on Claudius’ sestertii suggest they are based upon a statuary prototype – perhaps one of great antiquity, considering its archaizing qualities
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  3. JBGood

    JBGood Collector of coinage Supporter

    Beautiful coin!
  4. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    I enjoy your coin and the associated write up. It's a truly magnificent coin. This is one of my favorites of Claudius. I only wish the coin were whole.
    Claudius 3a.jpg
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: TI CLAVD CAESAR AVG P M TR P VI IMP XI, laureate head right
    REVERSE: PACI AVGVSTAE, Pax-Nemesis advancing right, drawing out fold of robe at neck, holding caduceus above serpent preceding her
    Struck at Rome, 46/7AD
    3.6g, 19mm
    RIC39, BMC40

    PACI AVGVSTAE. - The Goddess of Peace, in the form of a winged victory walking, lifts her robe with her right hand to her face and holds a winged caduceus in her left hand. A serpent is moving forwards before her feet. This type, expresses the manifold virtues of the Emperor and the public happiness enjoyed under his government. In one single image are represented the symbols of Victory, Peace, Felicity, Prudence, and Modesty, the qualities of the character of Claudius
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    I have no use for the current obsession with grading. The Claudius die shown was a masterpiece and the coin is magnificent but the same coin with a little wear is still a nice item and does not deserve the hate heaped upon it by collectors who would rather have no coin than the one available. There are hundreds of Claudius /Spes sestertii. Some have good surfaces, some have good strikes, some have excellent style and some have no wear. Few have all those situations on one coin. We each will have a different opinion on which is of primary importance. I have always been impressed by the rendition of the transparent drapery on this Spes and prefer coins that show this to advantage. Traditional grading with such high emphasis on wear is unsuited for ancient coins.
    Is the above coin a sign that Claudius suffered from goiter or that the tooling was done by an amateur? I'd prefer the OP coin carried as a pocket piece and worn to VF. Second thought: Make that VG.
    Another VF has several minor problems but shows my desired transparent drapery to good advantage making me more forgiving of some of the faults.
    This one is what I consider a very collectible coin that I would grade Fine but too many dealers know that calling a coin less than VF will keep it from selling so we get this listing as 'good Very Fine'. Perhaps the countermark restored the points lost when the laurel wreath disappeared???

    While the OP coin is great in every way the feature that sets it apart the most to my way of thinking is "untouched green-brown patina". More of these are some degree of smoothed, tooled or some hard to define intermediate processing than we can imagine. Ancients can not be graded with a couple letters. Some are hard to describe in a paragraph.
  6. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    That truly is a breathtaking coin and must be a real pleasure to own. Here's mine, kind of the antithesis of the OP coin, imperfect in almost every way imaginable. That said, it still brings a smile to my face as I look at its picture now. As for Spes's transparent drapery, I'll just have to use my imagination.

  7. stevex6

    stevex6 Random Mayhem

    Wow, SwK => that's a top-notch coin (congrats, on scoring that beauty!!)

    Ummm, but because the grading-scale for ancients is quite random and depends so heavily upon so many different coin-aspects, I thought we kinda decided to grade ancients on a slightly less rigid-scale:

    interesting => dirty ol' cull (it kinda looks like a button)

    cool => good-VG (you can usually make-out most of the things on the coin)

    sweet => Fine-VF (typical CT-examples => great examples of nice lookin' coins)

    awesome => EF - Unc (all of us have a few of these babies => this is the majority of TIF's stuff)

    AJ-esque => MS, Minty-fresh!! (yah, Mr Bond and a couple of you high-enders occasionally wow us with a few of these babies!!)

    Yah, I'm 100% sure that a few others will probably strongly disagree with my slightly less qualitative-scale (man, I can hear them now), but I'm also pretty sure that we'd all rank a fistful of coins quite differently, based on who likes patina and who is obsessed with centering and who likes the little owl in the corner, etc, etc ... there are a few too many variables to blanket-grade a sweet ol' ancient coin (know what I mean?)

    Ummm, and I guess that's why most of us end-up freeing our slabbed ancient coins from their plastic prison-cells (uh-oh, I'm getting worked-up)

    Oh, but again => wow, that's a fantastic OP-coin (it's gorgeous) ...

    => great thread (it gets people thinking and talking about grading)
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
    SwK, Pishpash, Johndakerftw and 5 others like this.
  8. Ken Dorney

    Ken Dorney Yea, I'm Cool That Way...

    That is the reason why I no longer put grades on my offerings (if I can help it). Many people see coins as the grade they want them in, not what might really be. So, that 'Fine' coin I have may remain unsold if I called it that. But I wont stoop to the low level that many dealers do and call it 'VF' or 'EF'. I leave it be. Most my photos are good enough one can make a grade determination on their own.
  9. TIF

    TIF Always learning.

    I'm onboard with @stevex6's take on grading, although he was too generous with my coins' grades. Most of them are solid "Sweets" and I have a healthy handful of "Interestings", with a smattering of "Awesomes". :)

    Edited to add that even AJ has a few which are merely "Awesome" :D
    AncientJoe, Alegandron and stevex6 like this.
  10. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    The serious collectors of ancients understand the complexity of assessing coins. It seems that only newbies from the world of moderns are concerned with letter grades, because that's what they know. This obsession with grades is magnified by NGC, but what can you do? Hopefully the new collector will eventually mature and prefer numismatics over grades.

    That being said, when it comes to common coins, I prefer examples with copious detail, clean surfaces, and no damage. Not because I care about the value of the coins, but eye-appeal is a big part of coin collecting. I'm much more lenient with rarities.
    David Atherton, TIF and 4to2centBC like this.
  11. stevex6

    stevex6 Random Mayhem


    Hey wow, there are two sweet NFL playoff games on the tube in a couple of hours!!

    => it doesn't get any better than that!!
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
    4to2centBC likes this.
  12. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    I wholeheartedly support this system of grading. The rise of digital photography has made a real difference in the need for letter grading. Certainly there are way to lie through creative photography and we will have to deal with that problem whether or not we continue the VF minimum system but not playing is a viable option in this particular game.
  13. Ken Dorney

    Ken Dorney Yea, I'm Cool That Way...

    Specific grade attributions have always had a place of importance in collecting. Mostly I think because of the lack of photography early in. Even in later years photos were difficult and expensive. My first paper catalogs had no photos, so the grade was one of the most important attributes of a coin listing. Even when I started using 35mm it was very expensive and time consuming. One had to develop the film, decide if the photo was worthy, showed the coins details properly, etc. Even at the end of paper catalogs, I only photographed maybe 75% of the coins. Grades will remain important for a variety of reasons and is a topic all its own!
  14. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE

    I collect coinage from an historical perspective. I like them with some wear, but I am more fascinated with the time period, and why they were minted or used. Coins/Currency was created to convey representative wealth in trade. It was and is a Human experience. Sometimes for mundane events such as buying a snack, sometimes as massive transactions to outfit Hannibal's army to invade Roman Italy. I am not as concerned that they are perfect: because if there is relatively no wear, then it is possible they were not transacted. Ergo, no real human transactional history attached to them... However, I do like being able to see the various objects and messages struck on a coin so that it is undestood what message is being communicated with the minting of the coin.

    I like @stevex6 's grading system. I would also add the undefined "gorgeous", "beautiful", "nice", "wow", "fantastic", or the unvoiced "nope", "not interested", "does not fit into my interest", "ugly (to me)", etc.

    I stopped collecting modern coins before the slabbing. I raised 6 daughters and did not have the time or money during that period in my life. When I got back into collecting, which is a HOBBY to me, not a business; I was completely turned off by the silly-as MS grading and slabbing...the coins lost their true history and purpose (being a conveyance of wealth). I also thoroughly understand coin collecting is a MARKET, with buyers, sellers, transactions, guarantees, assurances, trust, money, etc. to make it all happen. I just do not like how some parts of the market are becoming so sanitized using slabs and strict, albeit random grading systems.
    Hispanicus, Bing, Mikey Zee and 3 others like this.
  15. SwK

    SwK Junior Member

    Hi Dougsmit

    "Ancients can not be graded with a couple letters. Some are hard to describe in a paragraph" You are 1'000% correct

    Carthago likes this.
  16. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    I think that's why many of u.s have drifted into ancients, that is my main reason. And they are just downright more historical & enjoyable.
  17. SwK

    SwK Junior Member


    I have NEVER bought a slabbbed coin. 'I was completely turned off by the silly-as MS grading and slabbing...the coins lost their true history and purpose (being a conveyance of wealth)' TRUE WORDS


    this is an immotive subject to as I hope the majority of us collect because of history or art +++

    John Anthony and Alegandron like this.
  18. TIF

    TIF Always learning.

  19. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

  20. Pishpash

    Pishpash Well-Known Member

    I go along with Steve's grading, it is pretty accurate. I have lost count of the times a slabbed NGC coin has been put up where nobody agrees with the grading.
    stevex6 and Alegandron like this.
  21. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE

    @TIF That post gets the "LOL, Awesome" grade! :D
    TIF likes this.
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