Has Grading Gone to Far?

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by Long Beard, May 10, 2020.

  1. Publius2

    Publius2 Well-Known Member

    When our hobby switches to a 30 point system or a 100 point system or a 1000 point system, I will buy some little sticky labels and ratio the existing slab grade to the new system and then take a pen and write the new number on the slab and stick it on next to the old number. Or whatever machinations I need to do to equate the old number to the new.

    If we switch to word descriptors, like it used to be until 1949, then I will just call everything I own or want to sell "Choice BU" and everything I want to buy "Well Worn and Damaged".

    There's a story about an old-time coin dealer who was asked the grade of a coin and he answered "It's worth $200." I don't know who it was or if it's apocryphal but I think it encapsulates (pardon the pun) the entire argument for/against/and about grading.

    OK, I've had my fun. You guys keep on amusing me.
    BuffaloHunter and John Skelton like this.
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  3. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random nobody who doesn’t know anything...

    I’m not suggesting an abandonment of standards.
  4. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    There actually is but sure.

    The letters are what confuse people and if they just had numbers with no letters it would be much simpler but sure keep going
  5. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    Exactly, hence why the TPGs started and became wildly successful. Reverting back to such a system just makes it easier for people to fleece others
  6. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes? Supporter

    The problem is that we don't have consistent standards that everyone, across all TPGs, use. Everyone should use the same grading scale, and everyone should have the same standards. Everyone should interpret the scale exactly the same way.

    Oh. Wait.
    BuffaloHunter likes this.
  7. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random nobody who doesn’t know anything...

    You are talking about an abandonment of standards. If the TPGs tomorrow decide to adopt the letter grades and abandon numbers altogether, does that mean that all standards are magically forgotten and coin shows will become a wild west of shillsters? Not at all. It would just be a different way of saying the exact same thing. 30, VF-30, Ch. VF all refer to the exact same thing. To say otherwise means you really have no legitimate argument against it.

    I can already hear your reply: “But they would never do that!” But that is beside The point of the simple hypothetical thought experiment. And it wouldn’t be a legitimate counterargument either.

    There actually isn’t. I guess that’s why you never venture to opine on grades. Not once have I ever seen you participate in a GTG thread, except to yell at everyone who criticized the TPG for getting it wrong.

    [Citation Needed]

    The adamant push for increased precision with numerical grades is actually far more complicated, letters or no letters, and it would be increasingly impossible to consistently ensure all coins in the precise grade level are exactly the same quality. What started with 3 UNC grade levels, became 5, then 11, and now we have 21. Which is more confusing/complicated: 5 grade levels within which UNC coins are classified, or 21?

    Careful how you answer, since you claimed that the latter system is “much simpler.”
    St Gaudens collector likes this.
  8. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Yes, maybe it will be time to get out of the U. S. Coin hobby. Turn it over to the next generation who mostly is not there.

    Yep, it may be time to pull the plug, but does it have to be over a BS reason like the 100 point scale?
  9. tmoneyeagles

    tmoneyeagles Indian Buffalo Gatherer

    This whole thread is starting to remind me of that episode of South Park where Cartman was transported to a future where no one believed in God. Finally, there was no religion, and no one fought over whose God was right!

    Instead, the atheists waged war over what to call themselves.
    TypeCoin971793 likes this.
  10. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    Just as the 70 point scale adds nothing to the accuracy of grading.
  11. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    It would if they would apply the standards consistently, but they don't.

    As for the grading scale, most of the controversies are in the grades from 61 to 70 anyway. The 60 grade is used so infrequently that it really does not matter. As for the circulated grades, you see much less fussing and fuming over them. That’s probably because they are not “investment grade” coins for the people think of coins as investments.

    If these people got their precious 100 point grading system, I would imagine that 90 to 100 would still be the Mint State grades. If you expand it to say 80 to 100 that would be 21 grades which would lay everything open to more controversy.
    Pickin and Grinin likes this.
  12. tmoneyeagles

    tmoneyeagles Indian Buffalo Gatherer

    This is the most crucial point. What scale we use is worthless if we are unwilling to faithfully agree upon what the landmarks on the scale even mean.
  13. Lehigh96

    Lehigh96 Toning Enthusiast

    I was going to mention earlier in this thread, that for me, the grading scale is a 10 grade scale from 61-70. I don't see any reason to change it, and for those people who want a 20 point scale for incremental grading, we already have the "+" designation for PQ coins of a certain grade.

    And I agree with you that any change of the grading system would be a windfall for the TPGs and a huge blow to the pockets of collectors. I for one, don't think the the grading system is broken, and see no reason to change it.
    Tater, BuffaloHunter and johnmilton like this.
  14. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    They already have + and *. What else do they need?
  15. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    Wait they have to apply standards? That has nothing to do with numbers. Applying the standards determines the grade and then the number is then just stuck on like an afterthought. Numbers determining the grade would imply measurements that can be replicated In the current system numbers are just names, just like Fine, VF, XF etc are names. The only other thing they do is imply ranking 63 is bigger then 62 so 63 is better. Has nothing to do with improving the accuracy of the grading. Any chosen scale of numbers could do the same thing.
    TypeCoin971793 likes this.
  16. Publius2

    Publius2 Well-Known Member

    Absolutely. The existing system and all proposed systems are completely arbitrary. You might just as well call them "Tutti Frutti" (in honor of James Brown) or 5 x 10^6 so I see no value to me and most of the collecting community in abandoning the existing Sheldon system and disrupting everything.

    Two points:

    1. All technical grading is partially subjective.
    2. All aesthetic judgements of a coin's desirability are completely subjective. (You like Renoir, I like Matisse)

    On technical grading: The TPGs were supposed to give us a consistent (insofar as possible) technical grade. They have been partially successful at that, compared to the so-called standards that prevailed in an earlier age. They have failed in two areas: 1) They have failed to maintain consistency of those standards over time, and; 2) They have allowed aesthetic judgements of a coin's desirability to creep into their grading.

    Of course, any system where money and passion combine is going to result in gamesmanship and all manner of shenanigans.
    BuffaloHunter and TypeCoin971793 like this.
  17. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    Like this? :)
    matisse.jpg renoir.jpg
    TypeCoin971793 likes this.
  18. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes? Supporter

    Couple of points that I have to clear up here, Publius.

    The TPGS do not, have not, and will not ever practice technical grading. This is a common misconception. The TPGs have always practiced Market Grading. The Market Grade of a coin is an attempt to "value" the coin - its a ranking system where "this coin is more valuable than this other coin, and so it will get a higher number." This value may be based on technical aspects, such as strike and contact marks, but it is also heavily influenced by the subjective aspects such as eye appeal (toning, etc.). In reality, this is inherited from the fundamental basis of the Sheldon scale - a coin worth 70x the base price must be an MS-70! The idea of value as a means of rank/grade has been the basis for the grading system since before many of us were born.

    The TPGs MARKET grade coins, they don't TECHNICAL grade them.

    A technical grading system is something like the EAC grading scale. I'm not sure if you've ever looked into that, but the EAC scale is a true technical grading scale. Eye appeal is not a factor - surface preservation, marks, corrosion, etc are. Technical grading actually reduces the subjectivity in grading a considerable amount: Is there corrosion present? Deduct 5 points. Is there a mark on the cheek? Deduct 5 points. Its a set formula based on technical factors - not a wishy washy scale based on how much I like the flash of the luster or the color on the coin. (the interpretation may vary slightly between graders, but it is far more consistent than market grading)

    This distinction is very important, and commonly misunderstood.

    *A TPG is NOT "grading" a coin. They ARE assigning it a Value.*

    In a market grading scheme, "aesthetic judgements of a coin's desirability" (i.e., eye appeal) are central to the scheme. They haven't "crept" into the grading - its central to their mandate.

    I think that @Insider and @CaptHenway might be able to illuminate these points a little more.
  19. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    @Long Beard to be a nitpick, is it too late to change the to in the title to too?
  20. baseball21

    baseball21 Well-Known Member

    I actually disagree there if they were to turn everything on it's head and switch to a 100 point system. First they would all have to collude with each other to do it which wouldn't happen. If ANACS or ICG tried to do it first they would go out of business. If PCGS or NGC tried to do it first the other would tout how gimmicky it is and most business would flow to the one still using the 70 point scale.

    Now if for the sake of argument they all did it, there would be a significant number of collectors that just say I'm done and either sell everything or stop buying more. It would likely basically kill modern collecting too. While the coins would probably eventually make their way back, it would take years if not a decade or more to replace the demand of people that just walk away not to mention the damage it would likely do to their international business expansion
  21. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random nobody who doesn’t know anything...

    This would be more arguable if nicely-toned coins didn’t sell at levels 1-2+ grade levels higher. A monster-toned MS-63 Morgan will have roughly the same surface preservation as a blast-white MS-63 Morgan.
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