How do you price graded coins flagged as 'Details'?

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by bernard55, Mar 20, 2023.

  1. bernard55

    bernard55 Active Member

    I started researching this because I have >50 PCGS/NGC graded details coins that I want to upload to eBay but I'm confounded by what price to use for each of them...

    I'm sure, your answer to the question is 'it depends', but I'm trying to understand what it depends on...

    As a bit of data, I did an informal survey asking dealers at the Baltimore show. Pulling all those responses together what I heard was 'I knock the price down by one to three grades from average industry retail pricing depending on the demand for the coin in a grade, type of damage, and how bad the damage is to the coin."

    Coming away from the show, it seems that the factors to consider are:
    1. Demand for coin
    2. Grade (UNC/AU/XF/VF/F/VG/G/AG/FA)
    3. Type of damage
    4. Severity of damage (includes the location of damage)

    'Demand for grade' (1 and 2) really can only be considered once I understand the basic rules for how dealers price in the severity and type of damage. So what I'm asking is -- what are the basic rules for pricing the type of damage and its severity?

    NGC does a very good job of categorizing all the TYPES of damage in this pdf so I'll use this...

    How would you price a coin with each of these different types of damage if the damage was either Light, Moderate, or Excessive?
    • Environmental Effects (Bronze disease, Corrosion, Environmental damage, Stained)
    • Surface Alterations (Toning)
    • Improper Cleaning (Artificial color, Brushed, Burnished, Improperly cleaned, Polished, Spot removals, Surface hairlines, Whizzed, Whiped)
    • Mechanical Repairs (Chopmark repair, Mount removed, Plugged, Re-engraved, Removed from jewelry, Rim filing, Rim repair, Smoothing, Tooled)
    • Mechanical Damage (Bent, Chopmarked, Countermarked, Damaged (catch-all), Graffiti, Impaired, Mounted, Mutilated, Scratches, Soldered, Wheel Marks)
    If you don't agree with the above, please express your opinions. Also, here is what others say:

    Rare Coin Gallery:
    "Establishing values for coins with NGC Details grading is probably the most difficult aspect. Current price guides do not give information about Details-graded coins. There is also the complication that there are dozens of reasons and varying degrees of Details grading.

    A coin that has been graded Uncirculated Details – Improperly Cleaned may be only slightly below the standards acceptable for NGC numeric grading. Another coin with the same grading designation may display much more surface cleaning. Buyers of NGC Details-graded coins need to determine value based on a coin’s eye appeal.

    In general, coins with Details grading sell for substantial discounts compared to those with NGC numeric grading. Anyone interested in purchasing a Details-graded coin should do research to determine value. Most auction company databases have images and prices realized of nearly every expensive issue. For example, there are literally dozens of 1793 Chain Cents on the Heritage Auctions’ website that sold in the last 10 to 20 years. Buyers can do comparison shopping to get an understanding on how to establish values for this scarce issue.

    The 1793 Chain Cent above was graded by NGC as Fine Details – Environmental Damage. The coin sold for $5,405 at the 2015 FUN show. A coin that has been graded by NGC as Fine 12 or Fine 15 would sell for $25,000 plus. This is about a 75% discount to the average selling price for numeric graded examples. The value for some collectors is clear."

    Coin Week:
    "In general, the value of a Details-graded coin is usually set at least one grade lower but sometime two or more grades. For the best advice on the value of these types of coins, you should consult a professional numismatist. Another suggestion is to compare actual auction records to photographs of similarly described impaired coins that have sold in recent years.

    When comparing auction records, it is critical to examine the coins carefully. Coins with minor problems might bring only a minimal discount. Coins with severe problems usually sell for severe discounts. Remember, these two coins could be described exactly the same on the label. When purchasing expensive Details-graded coins, you need to do your homework."
    lardan and NOS like this.
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  3. Evan Saltis

    Evan Saltis Helpful? Click *Best Answer*! Supporter

    I typically pay the price for one grade down.
    Depending on how significant the problems are.
    bernard55 likes this.
  4. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    There is a lot to consume here. I am a working man coin collector that has no issue whatsoever buying details graded coins to fulfill his "kid" coin dream list.... I do not believe you can arrive at a formula per se. I think eye appeal will be the determining factor 75% of the time and I'll offer two examples of my own for your consumption:

    1785 Bar Copper AU-Details, Reverse Tooled...... In years past somebody used a pocket knife to scratch grime from between the bars. The scratches are almost imperceptible without magnification. Yet, the label relegated the piece as a pariah to discriminate collectors. This coin in AU is an $18,000.00 coin. I purchased for a quarter of that listed value and was happy as a clam.

    Bar Copper.jpg

    This flowing hair dollar is graded VF-Details with Graffiti due to the light "X" scratched on the eagles chest. Without the graffiti, this is a $15,000.00 coin. I am in it less than $1500.00 if memory serves...

    The examples I am showing are eye appealing coins that traded far less than their undamaged counterparts..... All I am getting at is that there are still folks like me that will purchase a coin for the beauty of the piece and set aside what the TPG has put on the label. Frankly, neither of the coins above were hot tickets at the time of purchase simply due to the labels..... I just don't think that there is a formula that will work when selling details labeled coins. I believe they have to stand on their own merit regardless of the details label.
    Tall Paul, Vess1, lardan and 6 others like this.
  5. Morgandude11

    Morgandude11 As long as it's Silver, I'm listening

    I do not buy details coins. I find that if I get tired of them, they are extremely hard to resell.
  6. Evan Saltis

    Evan Saltis Helpful? Click *Best Answer*! Supporter

    This is my only details coin. At the time, the price guide for F was about $125.

    I paid $95 plus tax on it from eBay. 4549C657-9094-4C15-A2F5-A461395FA969.jpg
    bernard55 likes this.
  7. calcol

    calcol Supporter! Supporter

    You can find recent auction prices for details coins at PCGS or Great Collections. Great Collections is especially good for this because they sell a lot of details coins. And in their archives, you can check a box so that only details coins show.

  8. Jim Dale

    Jim Dale Well-Known Member

    I've mentioned this before, but, please be patient with me. I got half of my father's coin collection (My brother got the other half). Anyway, when I got my father's coins, it spurred and interested in coin collecting. After going through the collection, each time I looked at one of the coins, I would quickly pick up another coin. There were several hundred coins and I grew to love them. It took me about 2 years or more to set up my coin collection. I asked a lot of collectors how I should protect and store the collection. I decided to use a 2x3 coin holder. I would make labels for each coin so I wouldn't have to get a magnifying glass to look at the date and condition of each coin. After I finished, decided that I wanted gold coins. I went to a local dealer and looked at his coins on display. My first purchase of a gold coin was an 1895 Liberty Head, Motto Above Eagle, One-Half Ounce Gold Coin. I looked at it several minutes. It was RAW, but it looked like it was in a good condition, so I decided to by it. I bought it on November 5, 2009. I paid $675 then.
    A few weeks later, I saw a 1904 $20 Liberty Head, Motto Above Eagle One Ounce Gold Coin December 5, 2009. It, too, was in good condition. I liked it and bought it on December 5, 2009, for $1,275.
    My dealer told me he was going to a show the next weekend and told me he could have the graded for me and he could save me quite a bit by him using his dealership.
    Sure enough, he was a man of his word. The grading cost me about $50 for both of them.
    Now comes the hard part. The 1895 was graded by NGC MS61. But then I saw that the 1904 was given a "details" grade... UNC DETAILS, Obverse Scratched.
    The detail offered to buy them back for what I paid and he would also pay for the grading.
    I decided to keep them. I also bought the MMIX (2009) Ultra High Relief, One Ounce Gold Coin. It came with the wood box the Mint had kept it in with the padding and the book, as well as the outer box that the inner box, coin, etc., had been shipped in. I looked at the coin, turning it over and over again. I was enamored by it all. I bought it with all its paraphernalia. I paid for it with my heart and not my head, and and paid way too much for it all. $1,500, graded MS 68.
    bernard55 likes this.
  9. Chris B

    Chris B Supporter! Supporter

    I have a number of coins in "details" holders. My primary area of collecting is 15th - 18th century European crown sized coinage. If it's an attractive coin the details tag is almost irrelevant. Sometimes the coins I purchase may be the only one I have seen. If it's a "common" coin, I just stay away.
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  10. bernard55

    bernard55 Active Member

    @calcol - I had no idea PCGS offered this on their website--Just choose Grade = 0. Very cool. Thank you. I tried to find it on GC but can't figure out how to pull out "Details". Here is an 1889-CC Morgan on PCGS site.

    lordmarcovan, calcol and Heavymetal like this.
  11. bernard55

    bernard55 Active Member

    Especially for 1700's Russian Rubles... It seems like someone cleaned all of them :)
    lordmarcovan, Chris B and Evan Saltis like this.
  12. bernard55

    bernard55 Active Member

    I know you are not selling the Flowing Hair Dollar but if you were to list it on eBay given PCGS is between 10k-12.5k and CPG is as follows how would you price it given what you know about the coin? I am very interested in this as I have several that fall into this category (>$5K retail for good grade but are different flavors of details - including graffiti <I have an amazing unc 1875-CC .20 that has a slight 'x' on it>)


    Here is what PCGS Auction for similar Details says (per @calcol suggestion):
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2023
  13. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    It's not a very satisfying answer, but the true answer is, "I go on gut and pull a number out of the air".

    Of course I do take into consideration what the coin would be worth without whatever issue(s) it has.
    bernard55 and Randy Abercrombie like this.
  14. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    PS- it's kind of a moot question for me personally. I do not buy "details" coins if I can help it.

    (Though a certain "details" Bust dollar did tempt me this morning.)
    Randy Abercrombie and bernard55 like this.
  15. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    This is the sort of stuff that might make me rethink my hard stance against "details" coins. I think Randy did really well on those two, particularly that Small Eagle Bust dollar!
  16. bernard55

    bernard55 Active Member

    When you do sell one of them where do you get the best price? eBay or others?
  17. bernard55

    bernard55 Active Member

    There are economics at play here though... Just as a rough cut at the data in the VF category, it seems that you can get a much higher price for 'cleaned' than you can 'holed' etc... I'm just trying to understand the rules of the road...

  18. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    @bernard55 I will be 100% frank with you.... I don't have a clue. I still have the coins I bought with my lunch money in the late 1960's. I don't sell coins, though I do occasionally give some away..... I think I'll leave @lordmarcovan name and number in my safe and tell my wife to call him when I expire.... (just kidding, Rob)... But in all seriousness, I have not put one iota of thought in how I would market my coins.
    Nathan401, Cheech9712 and bernard55 like this.
  19. bernard55

    bernard55 Active Member

    I suspect from a cursory look at some of PCGS data of 'details' coins that it's something like the following -- I'm going to run some analytics on a set of these to confirm the pricing reality:

    • Surface Alterations - minus 1 grade (as this might be possible for conservation to fix)
    • Improper Cleaning - minus 2 grades
    • Environmental Effects - minus 3 grades
    • Mechanical Repairs - minus 3 grades or more
    • Mechanical Damage - not including Countermarked minus 3 grades or more
    Randy Abercrombie likes this.
  20. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    I'm impressed by your analytics, but to me that smacks of overthinking the issue a bit. But more power to you if you find a formula that works for you.

    There are just too many variables with individual coins.

    Me, I'll stick to intuition and keep pulling my numbers out of (almost-) thin air.

    (Gives me less of a headache.)

    I consider it an art- not a science.
  21. bernard55

    bernard55 Active Member

    as a side note, I did have one dealer say to me "if the coin is valuable (>$2500) then if it's not graded there is a very high probability that the coin has an issue that will get it a 'details' grade (ancients excluded)--so don't buy raw coins unless you really really really know what you are doing. And stay away from auctions that sell high-value raw coins unless you can get the coin for a -4 grade price because the auction probably broke it out of a 'details' holder."
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