Thoughts on cabinet friction from a professional grader.

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by TypeCoin971793, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. Jaelus

    Jaelus The Hungarian Antiquarian Supporter

    You have a firm belief that "wear is wear" is relevant above all else, and therefore, to you, wear holds up to scrutiny. But all one has to do is look at the ancients market to see that it is not universally accepted as true.

    Severity of surface conditions, strike, luster, eye appeal; these things matter. Whether a coin has or has not circulated is wholly irrelevant, and the exercise of squinting at coins to determine if it is an AU58 or MS66 is one of the most misguided aspects of numismatics.

    Take a coin, a perfect coin. Any contact mark, friction/wear, hairline, or scratch reduces the state of preservation of that coin. It does not matter one bit how or where the detrimental surface condition got on the coin. As you say, there is no way to tell anyway.

    Any detrimental surface condition (yes including wear - it is not special!), depending on severity, lowers the state of preservation of a coin commensurate with the severity. Period. That's all you really need.
    TypeCoin971793 likes this.
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  3. Lehigh96

    Lehigh96 Toning Enthusiast

    What on Earth are you talking about? I have a first edition of PCGS' OFFICIAL GUIDE TO COIN GRADING AND COUNTERFEIT DETECTION which was published in 1997 and it certainly addresses Roll & Cabinet Friction. Here are two relevant quotes from the book:

    Chapter 3: Grading Techniques and Technical Grading: Technical versus Market Grading:

    "When you hear a numismatist say that technically a coin is AU58 but it will grade MS61 or MS62, what is he/she telling you? How can a coin "grade" two different ways? How can a coin be almost uncirculated and also be uncirculated? Can an MS66 coin have friction? Does my MS65 Saint-Gaudens double eagle have roll friction? YES. Though a coin may have slight "friction" on its highest points, it may never have been in circulation, so technically speaking it is uncirculated. Technically, it also has slight friction--though the market dictates an uncirculated price, not an AU price. The MS66 coin may have slight "contact" on its highest points, though it may be friction from other coins. Most MS65 Saints have "roll" or "coin" friction on the breast and leg of Miss Liberty. In truth, the only Saints that do not have broken luster on their high points are the counterfeits!"

    That section goes on to detail the amount of friction that is allowed on coin based on size, metal composition, and striking collar. The two main points are that "roll/cabinet" friction has been part of their public grading standards for decades and that all Saints suffer from high point friction. What that means is that if you don't allow for "roll friction" you essentially relegate every uncirculated Saint to the realm of AU, because you are stuck in the mindset that "wear is wear."

    Chapter 5: Elements of a Coin's Grade: Bag/Roll Coin Friction

    "When coins rub together in a bag or roll, the highest points of the coins come in contact with each other and may "break" the luster slightly. This bag or roll friction is usually noticed on larger coins (dollar, eagles, double eagles, etc.) but other series also may suffer from this (SLQ are especially vulnerable). On Saint-Gaudens double eagles, the frost on the breast and leg of Miss Liberty often is broken, the field remaining undisturbed. These coins are heavy, and slight rubbing among the coins results in the type of wear. Upon observing real wear on a Saint, one notices the brown or grayish look as opposed to the bright look of coin against coin friction. The missing frost is "skinned" off the coin by other coins, but the luster should still "roll" when tilted in a good light source. SLQs have this skinned look also on the knee of Miss Liberty. Friction from circulation discolors the knee, where coin-on-coin contact is still silvery-looking. When a coin is not frosty on the high points, coin-on-coin friction is more difficult to detect."

    Here is an example of what they are talking about.


    Now Doug says that the discoloration they speak of is hogwash, what is your opinion?
  4. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random nobody...

    I like how they go from an uncertain descriptor to a certain one.

    I also like how they grade coins which are known to have been pulled from circulation (the Lowell W quarters or coins with fingerprints, for instance) and assign MS grades to them.

    Inconsistent much?

    And I have no disagreements with that. The problem is the market, which cannot get past the holder.

    Well, they proudly display their standards on their website:

    And lookie here:


    “No wear”. That’s pretty unambiguous. They also say “The numerical grades MS-60through MS-70, used to denote a business strike coin that never has been in circulation. A Mint State coin can range from one that is covered with marks (MS-60) to a flawless example (MS-70).”

    That immediately relegates the discovery specimens of the Lowell W quarters to AU, but both were graded MS. Things that make you go “hmm.”

    I think @Jaelus said it best:

    Splitting hairs on grades should not matter, but it apparently means thousands of dollars in the US market. If a coin is premium, it should not require a holder to get a premium value in the market. But it does, and that speaks more about the market than the grading system itself.

    Notice what I said back in post #32 of this very thread.

    In this case, I am strongly in disagreement with Doug. I’m okay with roll/bag friction as long as it looks “scuffy” like it was scraping against other coins. But when the luster is completely dulled on the high points (as it appeared in the picture of thr MS-67 Saint), then it is AU.
  5. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random nobody...

    So there are two standards for MS: 1. No wear and 2. Never been in circulation. The second one is in favor so that coins with wear can be given the benefit of the doubt.

    Both of these coins were pulled from circulation. They were in my change bin. They have no wear. Are they MS? By the first standard, yes, but the second standard, no. So which is right? If we are going to have a standard, it must be universally applicable.

    I apologize for the crappy “moving day” pics.

    CE73ED46-C8F6-426C-AC6E-7BE457380827.jpeg 51FEFA40-C2AE-4FE0-B755-69A2B4C1357A.jpeg 2F5BC401-7958-40B9-87F6-8700E6890408.jpeg F304108B-34C2-478B-941F-614DBCB83E1C.jpeg
  6. Jaelus

    Jaelus The Hungarian Antiquarian Supporter

    It doesn't matter. Mint state is truly a meaningless term.

    When we start prepending MS or AU to a coin's numerical grade, that's when people start getting confused. Coins that have jostled around and acquired contact marks etc., be it inside the mint, in banks, or in circulation, even if they have no wear, are no longer mint state.
  7. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random nobody...

    But PCGS defines coins in the 60-70 range at having never been in circulation and/or having no wear. So yes, it really does matter if we are going to argue semantics/definitions/standards.
  8. Jaelus

    Jaelus The Hungarian Antiquarian Supporter

    Well it's plain to see, "having never been in circulation" is obviously nonsense by itself, since plenty of circulated coins are graded MS. The "having no wear" is also obviously nonsense by itself, since plenty of coins with wear are graded MS. But you'll notice that the clever use of AND/OR really switches it up.

    AND/OR means mint state can include:
    1. Coins with wear that have not circulated
    2. Coins that have circulated that do not have wear
    3. Coins that have not circulated and do not have wear
    Coins that fall into category 2 are impossible to conclusively tell from coins in category 3 (some exceptions of course). So we can condense those two into simply: Coins that do not have wear, and it is functionally equivalent. Coins that fall into category 1 are the tough ones, as it is highly subjective and of course we haven't been able to reach a consensus on this issue.

    To me it doesn't really matter. For the most part I am comfortable calling all technical AU58 coins uncirculated at whatever MS grade is commensurate with their general appearance. After all, AU55 is for coins that have visible wear to the naked eye. If the wear is there but not visible to the naked eye, I'm comfortable with a minor deduction.
  9. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    No time to read everything and comment but for now:

    Lehigh96, posted: "You can parrot Doug’s line that the TPGs have changed their grading standards all you want. Here is what I’m telling you. In my chosen series, Jefferson Nickels, I see no discernible change in standards over the last 25 years. I routinely buy Jefferson Nickels in old slabs and they look identical to the coins graded in the last few years. In all my years of buying and selling Jeff’s, I’ve had only one coin that upgraded two grades."

    No offense but Jefferson nickels are a crap series :jawdrop: (little overall interest in the big world) that percolate along over the years. That's why the grading has not changed! When we ignore the hole-fillers, the only coins of interest are FS, extremely high grades, lowballs, and the varieties. Knowledgeable collectors such as yourself should be thankful you are collecting a coin in the shadows of numismatics. Of course, this is just MHO.

    I like this: BUT

    "Furthermore, the topic of this thread isn’t about overall grading standards, it is about the implementation of a market grading exception, the allowance of high point friction for coins with Cabinet/Roll friction, to right a wrong in the grading system. I have always contended that it is these type of advancements in market grading along with the inherent subjectivity in grading that is responsible for gradeflation, not a deliberate loosening in overall grading standards. I stand by that.["

    Actually, gradeflation has loosened the standards all down the circulated grade too. Just compare the 7th Edition of the ANA Grading Guide to early editions.

    I cannot wait to pick apart the PCGS quotes. :D
  10. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random nobody...

    But PCGS never uses and/or. I did. PCGS gives clear definitions of MS coins as “no wear” in some places and “never been in circulation” elsewhere, but never both in the same sentence.
    Razz likes this.
  11. Mainebill

    Mainebill Wild Bill

    Back to the ms 67 saint. Gold is a soft metal. Even the slightest against another coin in a bank or mint bag with that design would likely cause that rub. Technically could it be called au. Yes. But would anyone who did be leaving out 99% of the value as it wouldn’t even compare to others that would truly grade au 58. Example the first coin. When I said 65 I’m going only with the obverse and from a pic. If I was going to professionally evaluate this coin and attempt to grade it. Say if it was raw. I would need to see in hand and study it with my loupe. Why grading is so hard from pics. If I did this I would likely say 66 and send it immediately off to pcgs my next order and see what they said. If they agreed with me at 66 I’d be happy. If they went better at 67 I’d be elated. If they went 65 I’d re-examine the coin and see if it was me or them and decide if I wanted to crack it out and try again or leave it as is. This is how it was done before we had the tpgs to grade for us. And how any dealer or collector that buys raw does it. Too many people today rely on the grade on the label not the coin
  12. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random nobody...

    Not a single person, not even @GDJMSP , has said that coin should be worth AU money, despite whatever the technical grade is. It seems like no one can grasp the concept that superb coins graded AU-58 are allowed to (AND SHOULD!!!!!) sell for more than an average AU-58. But whatever. Buy the holder and not the coin.
  13. Jaelus

    Jaelus The Hungarian Antiquarian Supporter

    No, they shouldn't. Those coins should not be 58s. A grading scale that isn't a linear representation of quality is a broken grading scale.
  14. ddddd

    ddddd Member

    This coin is an AU 58 and it sold for multiples of guide at $160 (around MS 65+/66 pricing for untoned). I was fine with it being the assigned grade and buying/selling it well above AU 58 levels.
    Should it have been in a 64 or 65 holder instead?

    Paul M. likes this.
  15. thomas mozzillo

    thomas mozzillo Well-Known Member

    Very beautiful toning. I've read many articles by Q. David Bowers and others stating that many times an AU 58 coin can be much more attractive than mid-range MS coins and your 1885 Morgan dollar proves their point.
    Paul M., Insider and ddddd like this.
  16. ddddd

    ddddd Member

    And that is very true. AU 58s can be very attractive and sell for premiums well above MS pieces. Another development is adding the "AU 58+" for exceptional AU 58 coins. I'm just not fully sold that we need to switch over to a system that gives AU 58s a higher grade than less attractive MS coins (if there is a defined and broadly published standard that is adhered to when such a change is made, I could be more open to the idea).
  17. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random nobody...

    So coins should be worth exactly what the holders say they should be worth?

    @ddddd I got some bad news for you
    Last edited: May 4, 2019
  18. ddddd

    ddddd Member

    It's a good thing that I already sold that coin then. :D
  19. Jaelus

    Jaelus The Hungarian Antiquarian Supporter

    I'm saying we should drop the prefixes and simply use 1-70 numerically where a higher number denotes an increase in quality. Also accounting for whether or not the coin is circulated breaks the linear scale, because AU58s may be commensurate with the quality of a high 60s coin, and MS60s may be commensurate with a low 50s coin. Those coins have pricing that is completely divorced from their grades because the grading system at present is broken and has no way of accounting for them. By eliminating the "need" to keep MS coins at 60 or greater and AU coins at 58 or lower, you can correct this.

    What I'm saying is that I don't care about a slab differentiating between AU and MS. If the coin has wear that I care about, I can see it myself. What I care about is a numerical grade denoting the quality of the coin for purposes of online commerce, etc.

    I have no problem keeping the prefixes though if it means we see grades like AU64 (a near gem with the slightest high point rub) and MS53 (unc but a real dog). We really should! These coins exist and at present they are in a grading scale black hole that does not describe them well.
    Last edited: May 4, 2019
    RonSanderson and TypeCoin971793 like this.
  20. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random nobody...

    I could get on board with this system.

    Then the Third-Party Graders would become Third-Party Appraisers.
  21. RonSanderson

    RonSanderson Supporter! Supporter

    And isn’t that what the market is all about anyway? Both buyers and sellers would have a basis to start from.

    The current grading is a parallel but imperfect approximation of value that still requires a lot of effort to map to an equitable price.

    Let’s eliminate that confusion - just tell me how good it is, already! Appraise the darn coin and let me decide if I like it more or less than other coins. Maybe I like strike more than luster, or don’t care about wear or scratches if I like the color.

    I can easily make that trade off based on how much I have available to spend.
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