EAC Grading Guidelines
Can EAC as a group come up with standards for each grading level by copper denomination/type? I know there are ANS, Photograde, and PCGS guides to grade/detail/wear areas, but each one is different. Why can't we take ownership of this and come up with the industry standard. We can divide it up into types with a few members for each to coordinate, put it all together and send it out to the membership to finalize and vote on.
There was an EAC grading committee set up a number of years ago in which a group of respected members would render an opinion on a coin. As I recall, there was next to no interest.
For sharpness grades, I don't think you can beat the PCGS grading guide that is available for free on the Internet and as apps for the iPhone and iPad. The photos are generally excellent, and I don't think EACers would dispute the grades assigned to the coins. Now, if PCGS would always grade according to its published standards, we'd probably all be happy...
The difficulty comes with coins that aren't necessarily nice for the grade. Experienced members will often disagree on net grades. The net grading of problem coins is essentially a price negotiation. Different problems bother different people to different extents. The same nick may look inconsequential to one person and like Grand Canyon to another. Ugliness - like beauty - is in the eye of the beholder.
For late date coins Gary Hahn has a whole section dedicated to EAC grading:
Why not put together your own grading set and have it validated by respected authorities in the copper community.
What I've done (with the assistance of Shawn Yancy and Chris McCawley) is to put together a grading set of classic head half cents. So far, my set includes grades of G-5, F-12, F-15, VF-20, VF-25, VF-20, VF-30, VF-35, EF-40, EF-45, AU-50, AU-55 & AU-58. To date, it has cost me $2,587. I've had other half cent experts look at the set and they have agreed with the grades. What is nice is that it is much easier to compare to actually coins than photographs or short (2 -3 sentence) descriptions (usually of just the obverse).
I asked Shawn and Chris to put the (F-12 to AU-50) set together to teach me how to grade half cents (my area of interest). I've subsequently added G-5, AU-55 & AU-58 coins from other sources. I eventually would like to extend the grading sets to include braided hair, draped bust (and if I can afford it) liberty cap half cents. Using CQR pricing, I estimate it should cost about $2,520 to put together a Braided Hair grading set ranging from AG-3 to AU-55. A Classic Head set (AG-3 to AU-55) should cost $2,855; a Draped Bust set should be $3,310 and the Liberty Cap set an astounding $42,100!
Oddly enough, the hardest coins to find are actually clean no-problem low grade Braided Hair and Classic Head half cents. Doug Bird (who found the G-5 Classic Head for me) has suggested that I find some F-12 examples and used them as pocket pieces for a few years to lower their conditions to VG, G and eventually, AG.
While I'm not suggesting that everyone go out and put together their own large cent grading sets (very pricey for 18th century types), you might consider it for some of the later date types. You'll find it very instructive and it does make it hard for others to say you're way off base, especially if you've had someone like Bob Grellman verify your assumed grades.
Absent that, I would like to see a set of high grade color photographs for each copper type using EAC standards eventually appear in Penny-Wise.
Last edited by fagaly; 03-02-2012 at 01:16 AM.
A brilliant approach and reminds me of the idea of a "spin" I had on it for ages, but never mentioned.
Although it may be impossible to improbable. What about approaching some place like the Gallery Mint (are they out of business? - I'm SO out of the loop on somethings that I shouldn't be) to query them about producing affordable grading/color sets? I would imagine that decent replicators would have the knowledge easily on color, and seems to my mind that sending a sharp strike through a vibratory tumbler with the proper media for X hours could reduce sharp detail to approximate a number grade given the time in the unit.
Opining? Let's just make sure not to outsource this sort of work. Could be a great way to be able to salvage the production costs of 2nds.
In one sense, that is a great idea. I would want to have COPY and perhaps the numerical grade stamped in both obverse and reverse fields. I would also leave off the date or put the date as 1700 for Liberty Caps, Chain and Wreaths and 1899 for the other types.
On the other hand, there will be those who object to any copies/counterfeits/etc. that could get into circulation.
Another way to do it (but twice as expensive) is to do uniface samples which would ensure that no sane collector would think that the coin was real (my preference). I would also make sure that EAC retains the dies.
I believe Gallery Mint is no longer in business. Royal Oak Mint might be another source, but I'me really not up on things like this.
I like the idea of the grading sets appearing in pennywise and then some pocket ref. book. Could we each submit pictures of what we think are coin standards for the type/grade, circulate these around and then group them as a set. This would save the cost of one person buying the whole shabang. I wouldn't be adverse to sending any of my coins that were chosen, to a person who will do the photography, keeping the variables the same.
I'm not in favor of the copy scenario, and yes to my knowledge the gallery mint is OOB.
Fagaly, if I might take off with some of your refinements to my idea...
I love your ideas of the mis-dates and the uniface concept. A sub weight (or size also?) uniface grading set with the detail # stamped into the reverse would be brilliant. To add to that, they could even be out of a different metal, so as to make sure that they were not kludged together to deceive, After all, in this realm we are looking at details. I see no harm in this, as the counterfeiters are already doing far too good a job at making copies. WE only need relative details vs. wear to come through.
Your wise insights also provided me a differing idea for the color set. Sub LC size copper blanks that could never be dimensionally confused with a real coin of any sort, but in differing states of color and patination to serve the cause.
KK - understand your issues as well and I thank you for the commentary and the OOB confirmation. One reason that I 'd love to have a physical "set" is for in hand comparison. Photos are great, but I can't tell you how many times I've dragged out an "in hand" example that was vetted by a major player to compare my own grading to before making an assessment. I think that properly thought through and managed, there would be a way to do it w/o worry.
It might end up being costly, but we all know the slings and arrows of cost to having good research and ref materials. On the other hand, if many were interested, it might be cheaper than anyone could imagine.
My next most desired "research tool" is going to be the $3K DVD/overlay thingy that I'm too sleepy to actually recall the name of at the moment, but you all know of what I speak. Now to just convince those interested parties in that product to either lower the price and sell more units or arrange a time payment option, but that is fodder for another thread.
Is the idea to make the dies properly worn to the grade or to wear the coins down to make the grade. To get a master engraver to do this might become expensive. I do understand your wanting the physical coins in hand. Can't beat the one on one comparison.
I still think photos with detailed descriptions would be very helpful and way cheaper. That's what I'll shoot for over this summer. I may ask members to submit photos of those coins they believe are grade examples.
Hey Ken -
My idea was to have perfect dies, but then to wear the detail off my means of perhaps vibratory tumbling with a proper abrasive and/or steel shot for finishing. It would take some trial and error, but I would imagine that one could come up with a fairly reliable production scheme of X days in X media = X numeric grade. Engraving each level would just be a cost and artistic nightmare.