Question about Scratches/Rim damaged coins

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by lookingforadeal, May 18, 2011.

  1. lookingforadeal

    lookingforadeal New Member

    The question is how bad does the rim need to be scratched of damaged for it to be non-gradable?:confused:
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    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    It's always a judgement call. But it also depends on what the coin is, denomination. They (graders) are more forgiving with larger and heavier coins than they are with small and lighter coins. And although it shouldn't have any bearing on the issue, rarity, value and pedigree of the coin in question also comes into play. The more rare, or valuable, or famous a coin is - then the more likely it is that any flaw will be forgiven.
    micbraun likes this.
  4. lkeigwin

    lkeigwin Well-Known Member

    As GDJMSP said, it's a judgment call. But here are some observations:

    - Scratches that appear to be intentional will usually prevent a coin from grading cleanly. Even for very early coins, which usually get a little slack.

    - Scratches that are not severe and appear to be due to circulation are usually forgiven. They obviously affect the grade.

    - The older the scratch the more forgivable.

    So, how does the TPG determine if a scratch is intentional? Common sense, mostly. Scratch lines that cross are deemed intentional, e.g. Letters or images are intentional.

    With rims it is not a matter of intent but rather severity. There is no hard rule.
  5. lookingforadeal

    lookingforadeal New Member

    that's good to know. i have a few coins that might be a problem.
  6. mill rat41

    mill rat41 Member

    Would it be fair to say that a well circulated coin, say a vg or fine, would grade cleanly with a scratch or rim bruise while an unc wou get bagged? Seems to me that a worn Morgan would have been dropped a time or two during it's circulating days.
  7. lkeigwin

    lkeigwin Well-Known Member

    I don't think so. As I mentioned earlier it depends on whether the grader felt the scratch was intentional or not. And, of course, its severity. Also, it does affect grade.

    Here's an example of a 1917 Lincoln PCGS graded MS66RD. The scratch was deemed accidental and so it graded cleanly. However, it is so severe it should not have received MS66. It should have dropped at least a couple of grades, IMO.

    I sent it back to PCGS, asking for a spot review, which is how you get them to consider the grade guarantee. They got back to me and said they agreed it was a mistake and offered a fair price for the coin (which I accepted...I didn't want the coin back and a check for the difference in value between the old grade and the new one; that's the other option).

    I was surprised to see they regraded it MS64+! Only 2-3% of PCGS's grades earn a plus and usually the coins are pretty special. (I don't think that makes sense but let's not debate that now.) The scratched Lincoln had a lot going for it...color and luster was spectacular. But that scratch was just unacceptable and few experienced collectors would tolerate it, I think.

  8. lkeigwin

    lkeigwin Well-Known Member

    Here's another interesting example. The below large cent has a few prominent scratches.

    Large cents were pure copper, a soft metal, and were heavy and large (almost half dollar size!). They also were made from marginal quality copper during the early years using crude presses. (There's some fun history to this you can read about.) Many have pitting and porosity, corrosion, bumps and bruises, along with the more acceptable die cracks, cuds, etc.

    The scratch nearest the top, from above star 8 across the top of Liberty's head, is not post-mint damage. You can tell this from its thick, jagged shape. It is from a poor planchet.

    But the scratches across Liberty's face, under her chin to below her ear, through B in LIBERTY, as well as those fainter ones (near star 2 and left of the date, e.g.) are from circulation.

    So the TPG forgave these scratches, as well as the porous surface, and graded it cleanly, VG10. It got a pass because of the typical quality planchet back then, the soft metal and heavy weight, its circulation, and the unintentional post mint damage.

    Damage like this was less and less forgiven in later years. But don't be surprised by "genuine" holders for many of these early Mint coins. The TPG's do draw a line, and if the corrosion or damage is severe enough the will "bag" it.


    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    In my opinion neither one of those coins should have been graded. And I completely disagree about the accidental issue. It doesn't matter how a coin got scratched, it only matters that it is scratched.

    And for every scratched coin you can find in a slab, there are 50 more similar that they refused to slab. The TPGs show no rhyme or reason or consistency at all with this issue, especially PCGS.
  10. lkeigwin

    lkeigwin Well-Known Member

    I have my opinions too. I was just passing along how the TPG's handle it.
  11. mill rat41

    mill rat41 Member

    Lance, wow thanks!
  12. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    But that's my point Lance, the TPGs don't care if it was an accidental scratch or not. They have no way of even knowing if it was accidental or not. As you said previously graffiti is different and I agree with that.

    Yes you can find coins with scratches in TPG slabs. But that doesn't prove anything either for there are literally thousands of others with scratches just like those you pictured, with some not even that severe, and they were all bagged.

    So you can't point to this slabbed coin or that slabbed coin and say this is how the TPGs handle it. Because it isn't how they handle it. It is merely how they handled it that particular time with that particular coin.

    I'd bet ya money that if you cracked that coin out (the Lincoln) and submitted it to NGC it would be put in a Details slab, which is it belongs. The coin is damaged plain and simple.
  13. lkeigwin

    lkeigwin Well-Known Member

    I don't want to debate with you, Doug. I am merely saying that an accidental scratch, as opposed to graffiti, can be acceptable, as is obvious by certified coins with scratches. Graffiti is never acceptable. There is a difference and graders give their opinions. They're not 100% consistent, I agree.

    PCGS graded that scratched Lincoln, and then under its spot review process gave it hard consideration. A payout was at stake. It wasn't your typical 10 second grading decision. They paid the claim and downgraded the coin. Should it have BB'd? Perhaps. Would another TPG have BB'd it? Maybe. If I had cracked it and sent it to PCGS would they have BB'd it? I wouldn't be surprised.

    You can find exceptions for almost anything, from color to damage. All we are getting is opinions when we submit coins for grading. I have resubmitted coins I believed in many times and have had them grade cleanly in the end. No one is surprised to hear that.

    When we look at a coin and wonder why it was graded as it was, we take educated guesses. We guess about luster and toning, spots and bag hits, as we try to understand why a professional grader with enormous experience assigned the grade he did. Everyone has an opinion. But it is only the TPG's that we pay a lot of money for.
  14. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Seems very arbitrary and somewhat spiteful to me. This is an aspect of US grading I just hate, differentiation of WHY a coin is lower grade. WHY will the TPG grade a coin obviously damaged from circulation, (wear), but not grade a coin with other damage, (scratch). Why wouldn't they just downgrade it to reflect the scratch?

    I just shake my head when it comes to US grading sometimes. The importance is not WHY the coin is damaged, its the EXTENT versus a pristine coin. For all of the talk of market grading, they still do stupid things like this. They will detail grade a coin like this, but then turn around and give a BU grade to a soft, mushy strike peice of garbage, (that in ancients would have been graded a F the day it left the mint).

    It just confirms why I left US collecting. I have to admit, though, I bought a really nice high end XF bust half yesterday for only $100. I was really surprised how soft that market is.

  15. gbroke

    gbroke Naturally Toned

    Sometimes the grader is just in a bad mood I guess. This dime was slabbed as damaged. A tiny hit in his hair :(
  16. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Well it is damaged man, look at all of that ugly color! :)
  17. gbroke

    gbroke Naturally Toned

    Oh yeah, I didn't even notice that! :p
  18. lookingforadeal

    lookingforadeal New Member

    You got a point, coins get scratched when they get circulated and should be graded not rejected. Bag marks happen and scratches happen.
  19. Kevo

    Kevo Junior Member

    They are much less forgiving on small coins like dime.
  20. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    The thing is this. From the instant that a coin is struck it begins to receive bag marks, rub marks, hairlines, contact marks, and eventually wear. But throughout the history of grading coins there has always been one thing that remained consistent. And that is that a damaged coin is ungradeable. Even back in 1949 when the first grading book by Brown and Dunn came out, damaged coins were ungradeable. And every grading book since holds to that. This is still true today. Not grading damaged coins is one of the foundations that our hobby is built upon.

    The issue here is one of degree - that being how much damage is too much damage ? That dime is a good example. Compare it to the Lincoln and then tell me it makes sense that the Linciln was graded. Or for that matter that the Large Cent was graded. That's what I have a problem with - it doesn't make sense.

    The TPGs need to show some degree of consistentcy when it comes to damage. But they don't. It's purely a toss up. One day they will grade a coin with a scratch of X size and the very next day they will bag that same coin.
  21. fiddlehead

    fiddlehead Well-Known Member

    I'm new to this (my first post, too) - but in my first few months of learning about this the whole grading and slabbing thing it looks like a bunch of BS to me. I can see it for proof coins and similar - but I actually find I dislike the slabs - it's like their stored away where you can't get the real sense of the history and art of the thing - and arbitrary! Wow! I find I prefer raw coins, and best is even high quality circulated ones. They cost less and for me are more fun to own - maybe not as good a value in the long run, I don't know - but it sure looks to me like this slabbing thing is way out of hand.
    Jrlh likes this.
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