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All Posts Tagged With: "Coin Surfaces"

Coin Collecting: Thoughts on Originality?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

“Originality.” It’s one of the most overused terms in all of numismatics. And it’s one of the most misunderstood as well. Given the choice, I believe that most people would rather own an “original” coin instead of one that has clearly had its appearance changed in recent years. With the help of some good quality images, I’d like to show some of the characteristics that I equate with “originality” and offer some suggestions on how to judge if a coin is original or not.

1844-D Quarter eagleThe first coin that we are going to look at is an 1844-D quarter eagle graded AU55 by NGC. (Disclosure: this coin is currently in my inventory and it is currently for sale. I am not using this coin as an example in the hope that someone will buy it as I am certain someone will and I don’t need to go to this much trouble to sell it. I am using it to illustrate this report because I believe it represents what I believe is complete originality.)

One other quick topic before we review this 1844-D quarter eagle. My definition of an “original” coin is one that appears to have never been cleaned, lightened or in any way altered. I would be quick to point out that the flaw in this definition is that, of course, there is no way to make such a comment without having had access to this particular coin at all times since 1844.

There is always the possibility that, in the 1850’s or the 1860’s (or even the 1960’s), it may have been lightly cleaned. But there are some things to look for on a coin that I think gives a reasonably good assurance that it hasn’t been messed with. The most obvious is hairlines. If a coin has been improperly cleaned at one time, it is going to show hairlines. These may range from subtle to very obvious. If a coin has nice seemingly “original” color but it shows noticeable hairlines, this probably means that it was cleaned years ago and has subsequently retoned. Such a coin may have a natural appearance but, from the standpoint of semantics, it can’t truly be called “original.” You can also look for areas of cloudiness or haze. If a coin has these, the chances are good that something has been applied to the surfaces at one time.

In looking at this coin, there are a few points to note. The first is its depth of coloration. Take a look at the color on the obverse and the reverse and note how the hues in the fields are richer than in the protected areas. On coins with natural color this is generally going to be the case. On a coin that may have been dipped at one time, you are going to see the opposite; the color tends to be lighter at the centers and deeper at the peripheries. Also, note how on this 1844-D quarter eagle there is color present even on the high spots and relief detail. A coin that has been cleaned or dipped typically lacks color on these areas as they are the first places that the original color is lost. Finally, note the depth and intensity of the color. On natural coins, the color is “sharp” in hue and depth. On dipped or cleaned coins, the color tends to be “fuzzier” and less intense. (more…)

Stacks to offer Amazingly Original 1860-D Half Eagle Gold Coin.

Recently CoinLink has been running a number of articles centered around both the concept and desirability of “Origianl Surfaces” on coins.

In the upcoming Stacks Americana Sale this week, there is a perfect example of the type of coin we have been talking about, Lot 3534 : an 1860-D Half Eagle PCGS MS-63. Below is the Lot description and history of the coin from The Stacks Catelog.

A sparkling condition rarity, and a beautiful coin, one of 10 pieces obtained at the Dahlonega Mint in 1860 in exchange for gold bullion and scrap and retained in the family ever since. Deep honey gold glistens with rich lustre, and the somewhat reflective fields glow with lively olive iridescence.

New to the numismatic marketplace after 150 years with fresh “skin” and natural color as yet untouched by today’s coin doctors!

No serious marks are present, though we note a few tiny disturbances; this piece was kept over the decades in a sock, of all places, along with several other coins—frankly, we’re surprised and pleased to report that this coin weathered its mixed company and awkward storage method admirably.

The strike is somewhat typical for the date, with some lightness of design at Liberty’s hair and the eagle’s neck feathers on the reverse. Douglas Winter’s reference on Dahlonega gold notes the following regarding this date: “The 1860-D half eagle is a relatively obtainable coin which is most often seen in Extremely Fine grades. It is more available in the lower About Uncirculated grades than its small mintage figure would suggest. It becomes rare in the higher AU grades and it is extremely rare in full Mint State.”

According to the current (11-’09) PCGS online Population Report, the present piece is the only MS-63 example of the date certified thus far, with but a solitary MS-64 piece the only finer example of the date recognized by that firm.

We note that NGC has not certified an MS-63 1860-D half eagle, though they do note a single MS-64 example of the date in their online Census. If you are one to put stock in individual population reports, this equates to the present piece being the third finest certified example of the date in a third-party grading service holder.

It is worth noting here that the finest of the four Harry W. Bass, Jr. specimens of the date offered in B&M’s sale of October 1999 was graded MS-62 (PCGS) and was the Farouk-Norweb specimen; the present coin outshines that piece in all regards. Not only is the present 1860-D half eagle one of the finest survivors from its mintage of 14,635 pieces, but it is a coin with a uniquely American story to tell: (more…)