Early American Copper Circulation Problems and Grade Advise
Being a novice large cent collector, is there any opinions or suggestions on post mint circulation problems that could be ranked as the least to most desirable when looking to acquire a circulated copper into your collection. I know everyone's eye appeal in a coin is different but am interested in other collector opinions. Some problem coins are obvious like holed or bent. It has been my collecting belief to purchase the best possible coin that you can afford at the time. Then, improve the grade when the opportunity arises.
Speaking for myself, I avoid coins with scratches or other damage on primary focal points and I can't stand rim dings. Those are my two big deductions.
As a low grade collector who puts up with a lot of imperfections -
I dislike holes (only have 1 - R5+ )
I dislike counterstamps (have only 1 - 1793)
I don't like recolored coins - I'd rather have a little darkening from corrosion than a recolored one
On a rarer coin, I will put up with a slight bend not really noticable except on flat surface (have 1 noticable bent - R5+)
Corrosion doesn't bother me if coin has nice detail, rim dings, little scratches are OK
slight dents (on R5 or tougher) I put up with - my key is I want to be able to tell the shelton number of the coin with my naked eye
I also collect on a bit tighter budget, so I will accept some types of damage.
Ranked what I avoid (1 being least desirable)
1 - Holed
2 - Bent
3 - Coins that have the word CUNT scratched into the back where it should say CENT.
4 - Corrosion/Porous (this could move up or down depending on severity)
5 - Scratches on obverse around Lady Liberty, like on her nose or cheeck for example
6 - Scratches on reverse
7 - Cleaned/recolored (if nicely done and the price is right...I think there are some bargains to be had)
8 - Rim dents
I would be willing to accept any of the above on one very important condition...that I pay what it is worth or less considering the condition. I will gladly buy a gorgeous XF coin with original patina and a rim bump for VF money. I will buy a holed or bent coin if it is interesting or rare at a HUGE discount, we talking $5 - $10 bin. I really do dislike porosity and would gladly take a lower grade coin with smooth surfaces.
Counterstamps? Love 'em, sign me up! I do refuse to pay a premium for them though, the max I will pay is what the coin would be worth w/o the stamp and usually less. I do prefer stamps on nice looking coins!
Last edited by Copper Frog; 04-09-2013 at 10:26 PM.
I would never buy a copper, for my die variety or year set, that has a problem that is the first thing that I see when I first look at it.
Examples include rim damage, that is something that bugs me, as does a hole or nasty graffitty. I avoid coppers that have been bent and then worn, I'd prefer bent without wear. Rough or dark surfaces are OK but only within reason and priced accordingly (R4 or better or a tough die state) Mint made problems are OK, they make the copper coin interesting in thier own way. It is true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Counterstamps are a totally different subject - as are pie wheels, masonic pennies, hum dingers, tags, pocket pieces, cut downs, fobs and baby rattles, ect,ect. There is a place in my heart for those as a collectable but they are not "mainstream numismatic" they belong to other catagories that some folks would consider junk.
Last edited by copperhobbie; 04-10-2013 at 03:56 AM.
Thank you for your responses. I can see that there is a variation in least desirable problem copper coins and tokens. What it comes down to is collect what you like. In other words, do not purchase a copper coin or token and afterwards say to yourself, "why did I buy that, I really do not like it!"
Anyone else have opinions or advice?
Over the years, I've found that my collecting tastes have changed, narrowed and branched out, like a tree grows. I look for a variety of coins, most of which are coppers. I've concentrated on a wide variety of counterstamps, sought colonials, tokens, errors, die varieties, you name it. Condition matters sometimes or not at all, depending on the category. There are some counterstamps that I seek, wherein the condition of the host coin matters little. That said, as I piece together a mini-set of overdate large cents, I tend to look for decent planchets. Type coins ... gotta be nice!
What is re-engraving on a large cent and why was this done? Seems like a good way to destroy a copper! Should one say away from this type of large cent?
It seems that nobody has replied to the query about re-engraving. That usually involves someone taking an engraving tool and cutting into the coin to make the hair or some other detail look stronger than it really is. Usually, someone will cut into a VF coin and try to make it look like an XF or AU, and then recolor it. Nearly always the newly-engraved area isn't exactly like the coin would have looked when new, as the hairlines will be slightly off. Also, engraved lines made directly into the coin will look quite different to an experienced eye from engraving that went into a die that was then used to strike the coin.
I recommend the Bird/Carr grading seminar at EAC. You will see re-engraved coins and get a good idea of what they look like. The opportunity to attend that workshop is one of the great benefits of EAC membership. I've taken it twice. It is incredibly useful.
As to collecting re-engraved coins, anything is collectible at some price, but re-engraving is considered damage and such coins are priced as such.
Some times re-engraving can be mild and even fool some collectors but, causeing a deduction in grade when noticed. other times it can be rather obvious that the coin has been reworked or even destroyed.
Let's See Some Engraved Copper.
For an example of a destroyed cent.