"UNC Details" Saint-Gaudens; scratched. How does this affect value?

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by TIF, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Hello US collectors,

    What is your opinion on the effect of a scratch on the value of a 1907 Saint-Gaudens high relief wire rim $20? The coin is in an NGC holder and was deemed a UNC details due to a small patch of scratches on the reverse between the sun and eagle.

    It's easy enough to estimate the value of a straight-graded coin but sifting through sales archives for Details-grade coins is challenging. From what I see, not all Details-grade coins are equal. From what I glean after searching archives, some problems are worse than others. Improper cleaning seems to detract less from the value than do scratches, or at least that's what I found based on limited research.

    I realize there is not going to be a one-size-fits-all answer, but what are your opinions about scratches on an otherwise desirable high grade Saint-Gaudens? All opinions are appreciated :).
    LA_Geezer likes this.
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  3. Dougmeister

    Dougmeister The Coin Scavenger © ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Have any pics?
  4. QuintupleSovereign

    QuintupleSovereign Active Member

    I think it really depends on the prominence of the scratches. If they're really only noticeable under magnification or at a certain angle of the light, then perhaps not too much; by contrast, if they were right across the middle of the coin and highly visible with the naked eye, then a significant reduction in value could be expected.
    Paul M., ddddd and Penna_Boy like this.
  5. Penna_Boy

    Penna_Boy Just a nobody from the past

    The "UNC Details" is going to hurt. Sorry about that.
  6. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    They are certainly prominent. Perhaps the only saving grace is that they don't mar an important device. There's no pretending they aren't detractive though.

    Bad pics:

    Does this knock it all the way down to melt? It's still a beautiful and notable coin but just how big of a value hit should I expect?
  7. wxcoin

    wxcoin Getting no respect for 63 years

    Even with the scratches a nice looking coin.
    LA_Geezer and TIF like this.

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    I'd agree with all of that. However, because of what TIF has already told us - the coin is in a details slab. And that alone means that what you're describing in the 1st half of your comment is not the case.

    Ya see, given what the particular coin is (it's fairly scarce), the TPGs are going to be overly lenient when grading them, much more so than they would be with a common coin. And since they've already designated it a problem coin - that means the problem is pretty dramatic.
    micbraun, Penna_Boy and TIF like this.

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    I started writing the post above before TIF posted pics. Now that she has, I can offer my opinion of what I'd do - if I was buying it. And if I was, I'd just walk away.

    Ya see, if I'm going spend that much money on a coin, meaning even 50% of what a problem free example would be I just aint gonna spend it. I'm gonna save that money and wait and buy a problem free example. But then that's basically my outlook on all problem coins.

    Have I ever made an exception ? Yeah, I have, but only a couple of times. But even then 50% was my max.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  10. wxcoin

    wxcoin Getting no respect for 63 years

    Earlier this year an unc details coin sold at Great Collections for $8775.
    TIF and ddddd like this.
  11. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    No high reliefs gets knocked down to melt. It will hurt, since these coins sell based upon their beauty for a large part, but I do not know how much ma'am.
    Paul M., -jeffB, TIF and 1 other person like this.
  12. Michael K

    Michael K Well-Known Member

    Since this is a special case you still may be able to get about
    70% of the UNC value.
    For other coins I agree with 50% but not this highly demanded coin.
    LA_Geezer, Paul M., TIF and 1 other person like this.
  13. imrich

    imrich Supporter! Supporter

    I've made money betting with people who argue that those scratches reduce the coin to bullion. The sales value depends on who, when, and how the coin is advertised.

    If that coin were sold by Heritage with "creative verbage", I would expect the coin to sell at a value of ~$5000-$8000.

    I'd purchase that coin anytime at 120% spot, and be certain of a profit. I have, and can show many prominently straight graded coins that are visually more offensive than that coin.

    LA_Geezer, Paul M., -jeffB and 4 others like this.
  14. ddddd

    ddddd Member

    As mentioned by some already, details coins tend to trade for a discount but that discount really depends on the severity of the problem. Some details coins still have decent eye appeal and do have a market (I’m in the process of filling a type set with mainly details coins since I can put them in an album and not have to pay as much as for problem-free examples).

    This gold coin still looks nice based on the photo and will sell for quite a bit above melt. I’d compare it to other details examples and expect the price to be at least in the middle of those if not closer to the top. A local coin store might not offer much, but that is not the best venue to sell a coin like this (specialized dealer, another collector, or an auction is best).
    LA_Geezer, wxcoin and TIF like this.
  15. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I looked at that (and others) but most of those UNC DETAILS were from cleaning. I suspect in-your-face scratches will have a more profound effect.
  16. ddddd

    ddddd Member

    It can be a toss-up. Some say cleaning is worse while others say scratches are worse. Cleaning can be just as obvious and can make the surfaces look unattractive.

    Based on your picture, I would say this coin is on par with some of the cleaned ones (to me at least) and using those to help price is ok.

    And as mentioned by @imrich we have seen some examples where prominent scratches (or damage) were deemed acceptable and the coin received a straight grade.
    TIF likes this.
  17. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    There are many details coins in Heritage's archives. If you don't have an account created with Heritage (it sounds like you do), create one, even if you only ever use it to research past auction prices. Anyway, most problems on these are cleanings or rim damage, and have sold for $7000-$10000. The big swing in price will depend on how egregious the problem is in hand. I would expect scratches to have a bigger impact than a light cleaning, but their location isn't the worst. I'd estimate it at $8000, but that's just my guess. The obverse being attractive and problem free is going to redeem it a bit.
    LA_Geezer, ddddd and TIF like this.
  18. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    I wonder which would have more value: an attractive coin like this with unattractive, bold, obtrusive scratches -- or the same coin, repaired, and advertised as repaired?
    TIF and Paul M. like this.
  19. wxcoin

    wxcoin Getting no respect for 63 years

    This coin hands down. Take away the scratches and this would be a high grade coin.
    TIF, ddddd and Randy Abercrombie like this.
  20. Paul M.

    Paul M. Well-Known Member

    Definitely not. On a lesser coin (say, a common date Saint that otherwise would have graded MS65), maybe we'd be down close to melt value, but not on a wire rim high relief 1907. I'd probably net it out to XF45 in my mind and be willing to pay about that much for it as a collector, maybe a little less as a dealer.
    TIF likes this.
  21. Mainebill

    Mainebill Wild Bill

    I like the original surfaces of this one. The scratches are bothersome but personally I’d take this over a cleaned one. You have a beautiful unmarred obverse too I’d rather have a coin with a small problem area than one who’s skin has been removed. For the price conscious who couldn’t afford a straight graded example this is a good choice.
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