CONA April 2013 Newsletter

April Meeting

When: 7 p.m., April 17,2013
Where: Oakstone Academy
900 Club Dr., Westerville, Ohio 43081

Topic: Error Coins
Speaker: Russ

April Presentation

My talk on error coins will focus on the production of coins at the U S Mint and address each step of production and the errors that may be produced during that step. Understanding how coins are made will help the collector understand what can or can not occur during the process. I will explain the PDS (Planchet, Die, & Striking) system of classifying errors and discuss rarity and value of the errors. There will be handouts to help explain the process as well as examples of the error coins produced and even a blank planchet for those in attendance! – Russ

March Presentation Recap

John Roberts reprised his talk on coins, medals and paper money depicting coining presses.

Early American Coppers

EAC, the club for collectors of Colonial coins, large cents and half cents, is holding its annual convention, at Cherry Valley Lodge in Newark, Ohio, May 3, 4 and 5. The club is looking for volunteers to help with registration and keeping an eye on the coins during auction-lot viewing. See Charles if you’re interested.

Dallas Meeting

Herman Blanton of the Mount Vernon Numismatic Society and editor of the Numismatics International Bulletin, says Numismatics International will hold a three-day seminar June 7-9 at Irving, Texas, on foreign coins, counterfeits and grading. For more information and a registration form go to

CONA seminar – BIG success

First impressions critical, grading experts say

Professional graders typically spend less than 30 seconds on a coin and rarely use a magnifying glass, a panel of experts told about 30 Central Ohio Numismatic Association members during a grading seminar April 6.

Grading is more of an art than a science, the panel told participants in the two two-hour sessions that were funded in part with a speakers grant from Central States Numismatic Society.

CONA Vice President Steve Petty, who helped arrange the seminar, introduced the panel. “We
are fortunate to have three folks who really know their stuff,” he said. Steve Roach, editor of Coin World and a former ANACS grader, was assisted by CONA members Tony Cass, a former ANACS grader, and John Roberts, VAM expert and ANACS director of attribution services.

Roach said professional graders use a magnifying glass only to do such things as check a coin’s authenticity or determine variety, “not for grading.” Roberts said, “Most grading is done naked eye.” He noted most coins are checked by three graders, with the final grade being a consensus grade.

Grading is based primarily on the totality of the coin, with the first impression being key. Roberts
said, “It’s the overall impression of an entire coin.” Roach said using a magnifying glass focuses the grader’s attention on a small area and stops him from looking at the whole coin.

The first thing to do when grading a coin, Roach said, is determine whether it is circulated or uncirculated. “It’s not always a clean line,” he said. Check a coin’s high points for signs of wear. Grading guides, such as Coin World’s Making the Grade show where coins are likely to wear first.

However, even experts can disagree on whether a coin is a high-end circulated coin or an uncirculated one. Roach said two 1804 silver dollars now in Proof 62 holders were once graded About Uncirculated.

He said the difference between AU58 and MS62 is “a slippery sliding scale that people make a lot of money on.” Roberts said, “Most 58s look like a 63.” Roach noted, “The market almost always rewards a pretty 58 over an ugly 61.”

Robert said the best way to learn the difference between circulated and uncirculated coins is, to “look at as many coins as you can.”

The amount of wear is the chief determinant of grade for circulated coins. “For uncirculated coins,” Roach said, “you’re looking at a whole different standard.” Strength of strike, color, and the number and placement of bag marks all come into play.

The question becomes, Roach said, “How pretty is the coin.”

He said, “A coin lives and dies based on the strength of the obverse.” A good reverse never helps, but a bad one always hurts. He said a coin with an MS62 obverse and an MS65 reverse will grade MS 62.

Before the seminar, Cass covered over the grades on 16 slabbed coins, ranging from a holed 1793 Chain cent to an MS66 1886-S Morgan dollar, and set them out for seminar participants to grade.

Participants looked at each coin for two minutes before a quack from Roach’s phone alerted them to pass it along to the next person.

The Chain sent, a plugged AG details piece, drew considerable interest. Roach said, “This is the kind of coin you should never buy raw.” Counterfeiters batter fake Chain cents to make them appear more realistic, he said.

A 1936 Long Island commemorative half dollar in MS 64 proved difficult for some to grade, too. Classic commems come in a variety of finishes and reliefs. Some were packaged in high-sulfur holders. Cass advised collectors to seek out every book they can find on the series to learn more about the coins. “It (grading classic commemoratives) is a nightmare in terms of knowing every coin,” he said.

Roach noted that gunk on a circulated coin often turns to corrosion and spots can grow over time. It’s not always about what the coin looks like today, Roberts said, but what it might turn into tomorrow.

By: Gerry Tebben

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