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The Flipside with Robert R. Van Ryzin

Worn to Perfection
November 15, 2007

Today everyone wants ultra-grade coins. Many of those who buy directly from the U.S. Mint quickly send off these coins to one of the third-party grading services to see if they can score a coin in a high mint state or high proof grade and then sell it for a fortune.

What ever happened to the good old days of collecting, when a coin's grade wasn't always the most important factor in whether or not it was collectible?

I remember when I started collecting, I liked to carry around an Eisenhower dollar with just one goal - to see how worn down I could get it. I eventually had it well worn, but then misplaced it.

It was, however, not as worn as the Eisenhower dollar in this photo. It's obvious this collector was going for the worst of the worst. His hang-up on grade was in finding the worst specimen of various types of large U.S. dollar coins. And it looks to me like he did an admirable job.

In the top row is an 1803 Draped Bust dollar, next to it is broken apart 1850 Seated Liberty dollar, followed by an 1877 Trade dollar. In the bottom row are a Morgan dollar, Peace dollar and an Eisenhower dollar. The dates on these are all too worn to read.

No need to rush these bad boys in for slabbing. Borrowing a grading term from the 1800s I used in an earlier posting, these start out at "wretchedly poor" at best.

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About the Author
Robert R. Van Ryzin has been a coin collector for 30 years. He has served as editor of Krause Publications Coins and Coin Prices magazines since 1994. He joined the firm in 1986 after obtaining a master of fine arts degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Prior to becoming a magazine editor, he worked on World Coin News as a staff member and later served as managing editor of Numismatic News. Van Ryzin, whose specialty is U.S. coinage history, is also the award-winning author of the book Crime of 1873: The Comstock Connection (Krause Publications, 2001), as well as two earlier titles, Twisted Tails: Sifted Fact, Fantasy and Fiction from U.S. Coin History (Krause Publications, 1995) and Striking Impressions: A Visual Guide to Collecting U.S. Coins (Krause Publications, 1992).

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