When is a Deep Cameo finish NOT a Deep Cameo finish?

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by Insider, Dec 9, 2016.

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Should a coin receive a "Cameo" designation if its contrast is diminished by toning?

  1. Yes

    4 vote(s)
    26.7%
  2. No

    11 vote(s)
    73.3%
  1. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    I am looking for comments on this concept. We do not need to see a specific coin to discuss this.

    Many coins with a very reflective mirror finish on their field (Proofs, PL's and DMPL's) have a contrasting "frost" on their devices. This gives the piece a "Cameo" look. When the frosting is very thick, many call this look "Deep Cameo." IF THE CONTRAST IS NOT THERE, THE COIN IS NOT A CAMEO OR DEEP CAMEO! This should be common knowledge.

    Set Up: I have a gem Proof Ike dollar with beautiful iridescent deep blue toning covering the entire coin. Its fields are bright PL blue. The relief is darker and DEEPLY FROSTED.
    Here is my dilemma.

    Problem: I have been told by a well-known, well-respected, and long-time TPGS Finalizer that this coin does not qualify to be graded with the "Cameo" designation. His reason is there is no "Cameo" contrast due to the toning. IMHO, this is wacko :wacky: and can be very confusing to an "unwashed and :bucktooth: ignorant" collector such as myself! So I asked him, "What if I dip off the toning to expose the mirror field and deeply frosted devices. Would it qualify as a "Cameo" then. His answer was yes because NOW there is a contrast between the mirror and the frost!

    Question: Do you believe a 100% Deep Cameo Proof with toning covering the entire coin should still rate a "Cameo" designation?

     
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  3. ToughCOINS

    ToughCOINS Dealer Member Moderator

    Best Answer

    I have long collected and dealt in cameo proofs between 1950 and 1970. I have also had differences with the grades / attributions sometimes assigned by the TPG's. I've had many discussions with other dealers / collectors / customers regarding this same topic.

    Almost without exception, I can divide into 2 groups the sentiments uncovered in those discussions, as follow:
    • The fields must be un-toned black, and the devices un-toned white.
    • Toning is acceptable over all or part of the coin, as long as the mirrors are uniformly deep and the frost uniformly thick, leaving an obvious difference in reflective character between fields and devices, especially through the toning.
    More importantly, there was a pretty consistent correlation between those making the first claim, and their relative inexperience compared to that of those supporting the second position.

    Looking back, I started as an adherent to the first, only later learning that the second was necessarily true. If all cameo coins of a date, say the 1957 nickel for a rare example, are toned, then there can be no cameos of that date according the adherents of the first argument. However, if after dipping a number of them out, a few cameos are evident, were they never cameos at all? Of course not.

    Cameo contrast is just as permanent a trait as the details struck into the coin, unless and until it is worn, altered or defaced. The contrast is a product of two different types of luster on the coin. Whether the coin has toned over the cameo contrast or not is truly immaterial. The right types of luster to produce the effect were imparted by the dies at the mint, and remain in place, regardless of what the holder says.

    I think you just ran up against the TPG's willingness to cater to those less experienced in the marketplace. I can't argue with that . . . their existence hinges on protecting the uneducated from themselves. I just wish the uneducated would put more energy into getting educated so that the TPG's weren't such a dominant influence.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
  4. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    I'd have to agree, no contrast no cameo. If you can't see the contrast, how do you know it is really there? Also you need to be able to see if there are breaks in the frost. If there is no visible contrast you can't see frost breaks either.
     
  5. Paul M.

    Paul M. Well-Known Member

    I'm not good enough to grade a coin based on what it would look like after a dip or treatment.
     
  6. longshot

    longshot Enthusiast Supporter

    "Concealed Cameo" sounds kind of catchy.........:bored:
     
    Coinchemistry 2012 and Insider like this.
  7. ToughCOINS

    ToughCOINS Dealer Member Moderator

    Best Answer

    I have long collected and dealt in cameo proofs between 1950 and 1970. I have also had differences with the grades / attributions sometimes assigned by the TPG's. I've had many discussions with other dealers / collectors / customers regarding this same topic.

    Almost without exception, I can divide into 2 groups the sentiments uncovered in those discussions, as follow:
    • The fields must be un-toned black, and the devices un-toned white.
    • Toning is acceptable over all or part of the coin, as long as the mirrors are uniformly deep and the frost uniformly thick, leaving an obvious difference in reflective character between fields and devices, especially through the toning.
    More importantly, there was a pretty consistent correlation between those making the first claim, and their relative inexperience compared to that of those supporting the second position.

    Looking back, I started as an adherent to the first, only later learning that the second was necessarily true. If all cameo coins of a date, say the 1957 nickel for a rare example, are toned, then there can be no cameos of that date according the adherents of the first argument. However, if after dipping a number of them out, a few cameos are evident, were they never cameos at all? Of course not.

    Cameo contrast is just as permanent a trait as the details struck into the coin, unless and until it is worn, altered or defaced. The contrast is a product of two different types of luster on the coin. Whether the coin has toned over the cameo contrast or not is truly immaterial. The right types of luster to produce the effect were imparted by the dies at the mint, and remain in place, regardless of what the holder says.

    I think you just ran up against the TPG's willingness to cater to those less experienced in the marketplace. I can't argue with that . . . their existence hinges on protecting the uneducated from themselves. I just wish the uneducated would put more energy into getting educated so that the TPG's weren't such a dominant influence.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
  8. Blissskr

    Blissskr Well-Known Member

    I can see why they'd not give it the designation. I mean if by looking at a coin you can't tell if it is because of toning then the graders perception is what's going to matter and they aren't going to give a coin a cameo designation when it's not readily apparent. It does seem kind of silly if that coin actually is cameo underneath the toning but it is what it is.
     
  9. CamaroDMD

    CamaroDMD [Insert Clever Title]

    I have always felt that for a coin to qualify as cameo it needs to have that "cameo" look (like a cameo carved gem). If that appearance is lost (hidden) due to toning...in that state the coin would not longer qualify while the toning is present.
     
  10. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    I have a cameo Franklin which is not cameo due to extremely ugly, splotchy, black toning on the reverse. If you really study it you can see the cameo features, but it's not immediately evident due to distracting toning
     
    Paul M. likes this.
  11. heavycam.monstervam

    heavycam.monstervam Outlaw Trucker & Coin Hillbilly

    Interesting thread, but what is REALLY lacking here are some images!!! I (and I'm sure other members) would love to see some examples of cameo not designated as such due to toning. I don't collect proof coinage, but I do know that PL and DMPL Morgans will still qualify for the designation despite having toned surfaces .....

    OP- what a great idea for a thread, I hope we can all learn something in the process
     
    Blissskr likes this.
  12. CamaroDMD

    CamaroDMD [Insert Clever Title]

    But will they in the toning completely hides the cameo effect?
     
  13. heavycam.monstervam

    heavycam.monstervam Outlaw Trucker & Coin Hillbilly

    I dunno, mainly becAuse I probably wouldn't find this sort of thing attractive , hence wouldn't purchase such a specimen. I definitely want to see photos of one though
     
  14. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    This is a partial photo of a coin like the one I described. NO FULL PHOTO AVAILABLE :( but not needed.

    Deep frost on relief, dark blue toning covering relief and Proof field. If that is not enough contrast to tell the relief is fully deep frosted and since it is a 70's era Proof Ike, the field is deep mirror I don't know what else is needed to see this is a DCAM Ike Proof!
     

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  15. CamaroDMD

    CamaroDMD [Insert Clever Title]

    It looks like the toning adds a ton of eye appeal to the coin...it's probably quite lovely. But, I would agree with TPG person you spoke with...unless it has that "cameo look" it's not going to qualify. It needs to have the contrast.
     
    Insider likes this.
  16. green18

    green18 Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    Simply put (I'm a simpleton) the tpg's 'calls them as they sees them'......If the cameo effect is obstructed by toning, no soup for you......

    Just an observation. :)
     
    Paul M. likes this.
  17. gronnh20

    gronnh20 Well-Known Member

    Does a coin that is graded "DC" still retain that designation if it tones in the holder after grading? Really a unlikely scenario, but, not much different than the dipping scenario.

    Or what if the coin has rim toning and the rest of the coin is "DC"? Should that preclude a "DC" designation?

    For me I want "DC" from rim to rim and obverse to reverse. No inbetweens.

    Good question @Insider
     
    Paul M. likes this.
  18. CamaroDMD

    CamaroDMD [Insert Clever Title]

    If it was re-graded and the cameo effect was now hidden I would say no. Of course if not the label isn't gonna change. That's why slabbed coins need to be evaluated before purchase.

    It would be like buying a copper coin graded with a RD description that has turned.

    In both cases the label is no longer accurate.
     
  19. Coinchemistry 2012

    Coinchemistry 2012 Well-Known Member


    I fall into and agree with the second group.
     
    Insider and ToughCOINS like this.
  20. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    Finally got my answer from two of the TPGS. PCGS and NGC will CAM a toned coin as long as the frost is complete on the devices. In some cases, a coin that was DCAM as made MAY be lowered to a CAM if the toning is too dark. So far, AFAIK, ICG and ANACS do the same.
     
  21. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random nobody who doesn’t know anything...

    But that sounds like thinking and work. You can't have any of that...
     
  22. CamaroDMD

    CamaroDMD [Insert Clever Title]

    I don't think that's totally true...the TPG's are simply there to protect the uneducated. They have other uses as well. Although we might not always agree with their methods...they do provide a certain liquidity to coins that they otherwise wouldn't have. They also allow buyers online to have more faith in their purchase. As we have seen many times here on CT...it's hard to grade a coin from a photo even when someone is trying to photograph it as accurately as possible. Sometimes sellers photograph coins in ways that hide blemishes or other issues. That can still happen (and does) with a slabbed coin but there is less risk on the buyer.

    Personally, I prefer to buy coins online in slabs. I feel that it gives me more protection. Of course, I still closely examine the coin and decide that it's the right coin for me...but I get nervous spending much money on raw coins I can't view in hand.
     
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