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The Gold and Silver Mine: Condition Matters

All collectibles have one thing in common that determine their value and that is condition of the item. It is obvious that a given collectible will be more valuable in better condition. Take Star Wars action figures where a loose, played with figure is virtually valueless, but an original figure in its’ original blister pack can be worth hundreds of dollars.

This is especially true with coins where their condition (grade) has in some cases a dramatic impact on their value. The method of determining the grade of a coin is a structured approach, with illustrated guides published to aid the collector. Because once a coin is entered into circulation and is handled by many individuals, some of the original metal wears off and reduces the appearance of the detail of the coins’ design. The more detail lost, the lower the grade of the coin. Other things that have an impact on the grade of a coin, negatively, are such things as physical damage and harsh cleaning. Ignoring those last 2 occurrences, one would think grading would be straightforward, but unfortunately buyers and sellers would traditionally grade a coin that would most likely benefit them, the seller grading a coin higher than the buyer though it should be. It has been stated that to be a good grader, all you need is good light, good magnification and 20 years’ experience.

Enter third party grading services where a coins’ value could be determined by someone who has no financial ties to the coin. I have recommended in past articles using these services or buying coins already graded to be sure one is getting what they are paying for. One caveat, not all grading services are recognized for their work, so be sure to utilize one that is tops in their field.

But what about coins that are of a low value that don’t merit spending the money to get them graded? Although the books about grading coins have pictures and illustrations for every coin, they typically are not of a size to provide adequate detail. Well, I received an email from the American Numismatic Association (ANA), which I have been a member of for many years. (probably would have) All collectibles have one thing in common that determine their value and that is condition of the item. It is obvious that a given collectible will be more valuable in better condition. Take Star Wars action figures where a loose, played with figure is virtually valueless, but an original figure in its’ original blister pack can be worth hundreds of dollars.

This is especially true with coins where their condition (grade) has in some cases a dramatic impact on their value. The method of determining the grade of a coin is a structured approach, with illustrated guides published to aid the collector. Because once a coin is entered into circulation and is handled by many individuals, some of the original metal wears off and reduces the appearance of the detail of the coins’ design. The more detail lost, the lower the grade of the coin. Other things that have an impact on the grade of a coin, negatively, are such things as physical damage and harsh cleaning. Ignoring those last 2 occurrences, one would think grading would be straightforward, but unfortunately buyers and sellers would traditionally grade a coin that would most likely benefit them, the seller grading a coin higher than the buyer though it should be. It has been stated that to be a good grader, all you need is good light, good magnification and 20 years’ experience.

Enter third party grading services where a coins’ value could be determined by someone who has no financial ties to the coin. I have recommended in past articles using these services or buying coins already graded to be sure one is getting what they are paying for. One caveat, not all grading services are recognized for their work, so be sure to utilize one that is tops in their field.

But what about coins that are of a low value that don’t merit spending the money to get them graded? Although the books about grading coins have pictures and illustrations for every coin, they typically are not of a size to provide adequate detail. Well, I received an email from the American Numismatic Association (ANA), which I have been a member of for many years.

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