Quiz: How much this surface would score in NGC scale?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by pprp, Jun 1, 2019.


Grade the surface

Poll closed Jun 8, 2019.
  1. 1/5

    0 vote(s)
  2. 2/5

  3. 3/5

  4. 4/5

  5. 5/5

  1. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    Before I get out of my mind, may I please ask others what would they think of the surface of this coin? Thanks in advance

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  3. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    If a harshly cleaned coin can score 4/5 surface, I think yours can too. I think NGC is over generous in how they score strike and surface.

    On non-CNG scale, someone would say your coin has signs of black deposits (probably horn silver), a significant edge crack, mild porosity, mild dings/scratches, and I think I see subtle evidence of crystalization.

    It would be a 2/5 for me if I were grading it to my standards. Still a nice coin though.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
  4. TIF

    TIF Well that didn't last long :D Supporter

    Let's see the other side.
    rrdenarius, Paul M., Carthago and 2 others like this.
  5. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

    Does NGC try to apply the same surface criteria to all coin types? It really varies a lot by type; what is 'great' for an Alexandrian drachm, for instance, is very different from what is 'great' for a 1st century sestertius.
  6. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    I voted 5/5 since ngc grading is ridiculous at times
  7. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random guy on the internet

    I really don’t care about the number assigned.
    Jay GT4, Orielensis, cmezner and 2 others like this.
  8. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member

    One would have to see both sides.

    Not all coins are regarded the same when determining surface grades. A Philip Antioch tetradrachm that is usually slightly grainy would be considered differently that an Vespasian tet that normally comes with good metal. A slightly grainy Philip can have a 5 surface, a grainy Vespasian would never be a 5 surface. A Greek fraction which is almost always a little porous is graded differently than a Roman denarius which should have good metal and smooth surfaces.
    A mint state coin is graded stricter than a coin in Fine. The coin in fine is expected to have some surface issues.

    Barry Murphy
  9. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    To illustrate Barry Murphy's post see the photos below. The 1st coin is one I sold 7 years ago that has very good metal for an Antioch tet. The coin is an excellent strike but has serious porosity, mostly on the reverse. The 2nd coin is an Antioch tet of Philip II struck in poor metal, but the surfaces are exceptionally clean. Murphy's point that both sides of a coin must be judged is also important in determining surface & strike. 100_4902.JPG
    NGC 2420228-004 obv..jpg CIVITAS Galleries, VCoins, Prieur 492, obv..jpg
    CIVITAS Galleries, VCoins, Prieur 492, rev..jpg NGC 4278563-002, McAlee 1064c, obv..jpg
  10. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    Thanks to all for votes and replies. I did not want to post the other side so as to make the coin recognisable nor to start a dispute over ngc's grading. I agree more or less with what @Sallent wrote. I have passed on this coin twice when it was offered unslabbed in 2 different auctions. When I saw it slabbed star au 5/5 5/5 I had second thoughts if I did the right thing...
  11. Jay GT4

    Jay GT4 Well-Known Member

    Alegandron likes this.
  12. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    You did the right thing. Like I said, it is a beautiful coin, but no way would I agree with a 5/5 surface using my own subjective standards when there is a crack on the flan, and black deposits on the surfaces. I'm sure I'm in the majority here with that opinion.
  13. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member

    Without seeing the obverse it’s impossible for anyone to tell what the surface grade would be. And a 5 isn’t perfect, it’s top 20% for the type and grade. Also, the reverse on this coin, being nothing more than a punch, is weighted less than the obverse. If the coin is only CEF or AU, it’s can have some issues and still be a 5 surface. If it’s mint state it would have to be much nicer to be a 5.

    This is a useless exercise.

    Barry Murphy
  14. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    The surface of the other side is much better but is slightly off center and there is a little die shift. I am sending you a private message with the coin.
  15. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member

    This is the obverse of the coin. It's a Bisalti oktadrachm. This coin is exceptional for one of these. Having handled 50-60 of these over the years and seen photos of maybe 100 more, the metal on this was as good as they get. No scratches, no test cuts, no porosity. The black on the back was just a bit of inconsequential horn silver. The coin was previously in a Roma sale where it was described as "An magnificent example" and a Kuenker sale where he called it "Prachtexemplar" which translates to a choice example. It was a 5 surface all day long.
  16. Barry Murphy

    Barry Murphy Well-Known Member


    Just for comparison as the Heritage photo is a bit over exposed, here are the Roma and Kuenker photos.

  17. lrbguy

    lrbguy Well-Known Member

    This is a critical point. The number does not define grade according to an absolute standard, but rather in relation to other known and registered specimens.
    philologus_1 likes this.
  18. Theodosius

    Theodosius Unrepentant Fine Style Freak! Supporter

    Thanks Barry, it is very helpful to understand what the grades mean and how they are determined. I sometimes buy graded ancients and knowing the meaning of the scale is a useful companion to looking at the photos provided by the seller.

    rrdenarius likes this.
  19. Volodya

    Volodya Junior Member

    The implication of the OP was that the reverse was representative of the entire coin. Seeing the obverse points out how disingenuous to this exercise really is. In my personal RR collection, I'm "notorious" for insisting on two-sided coins, even if the reverse is a boring, mundane depiction of the Dioscuri or Victory in biga. If I collected Greek though, I'd enthusiastically add this coin to my collection and never look back. This is a genuinely superb example of a type that typically is badly flawed. The "problems" on the reverse don't rise to the level of trivial. The 5 surface grade is entirely justified.

    Phil Davis
  20. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    I don't see what you find disingenuous in my posts. And since Barry made it public, I told him that I passed twice on this coin when offered by kuenker and Roma with a difference of a few months and made exactly the same hammer probably due to a hidden reserve. When I now saw the NGC grading I started questioning my decision. The only disingenuous aspect I find is the way the coin's provenance is hidden even with a different weight reported. And by the way the obverse is off center and there is a die shift but of course everything is forgiven when a dealer sells but nothing is forgiven when he buys...
  21. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    This is a good thread and it's useful to point out how every coin has to be graded relative to its series, which makes NGC's job particularly challenging.

    Mint State, ironically, doesn't mean that the state of the coin is the state it was when it left the mint (within a margin of error). And, a score of 5/5 doesn't equal 100% or perfection.

    We could rank all coins relative to their theoretical perfection but that would be unfair for many types that are only known in older groups and circulated and some may never top 3/5.

    Ultimately, any coin is a balance of tradeoffs for your personal preference as none are truly perfect. Personally, I also want a Bisalti octodrachm but haven't wanted to bid on this particular coin the few times it's been around because of the reverse. So, to me, it's not a matter of 5/5 or 4/5; it's just not a coin that fits my parameters. Perhaps I'll eventually find one that even grades lower but "works" for my personal set of preferences.
    TypeCoin971793, TIF, pprp and 3 others like this.
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