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Nothing Less Than Perfection
January 24, 2011

Collectors have always wanted to own the best quality coins that they can afford. This preference has been felt strongly in prices of top-grade coins, especially for coins that were not saved in any large numbers.

Naturally, collectors want to get the best money can buy with new issues, but an e-mail comment to me on this topic makes me wonder how the reader ever arrived at his conclusion.

See what you think below:

“My understanding of proof coins struck at the Mint are of the highest grade possible. Looking at them with a high-powered magnifier I would agree. However, when I sent 10 of these proofs (American Eagles) to the grading company, in their original casing, never opened or touched by any hands, they all came back graded lower than a perfect 70.

“I appreciate that a percentage may escape the eyes of (the Mint’s) proofers and have minor marks that would reduce their grade, but 10 out of 10 does not speak well for the Mint. If this is what the Mint accepts as perfect, then I will have to reconsider whether I will continue to purchase imperfect coins from them.

“I am a regular buyer of coins from the U.S. Mint.”

How did a regular buyer of proof coins from the Mint ever arrive at the conclusion that all or most of the coins struck would grade Proof-70? Also, he didn’t mention whether any were graded -68 or -69.

His is such an unexpected statement that it almost seems cruel to want to remind the writer that proof grades range from 60 to 70 precisely because there is variation in the manufacturing process and, of course, over the years, bad things can happen to good coins.

I can even remember those apparently more innocent times when hobbyists debated among themselves whether the 70 grade would ever be used, because what coin could possibly be perfect?

Ah, but I guess I am giving away my age with that statement.

 

 

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News, Bank Note Reporter and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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