One of the best exercises you can do to learn how to grade for fun and profit is to secure bank-rolled brilliant and uncirculated Lincoln cents, find strong strikes and take a chance on slabbing them with a leading holdering company.
I submit to PCGS and NGC. When it comes to Lincoln cents, PCGS grades a tad harsher so that MS66 or MS67 in a Memorial cent can bring high prices, with a steep drop-off at the MS65 Gem Level.
Here are some PCGS cent values at the MS65 through MS67 levels:
- 1959 Red: MS65, $1; MS66, $40; MS66+, $600; MS67, $4500
- 1960-D Red (Large Date): MS65, $1; MS66, $45; MS66+, $285; MS67, $6000
- 1969-S Red: MS65, $15; MS66, $165; MS66+, $400; MS67, $4150
- 1973-D Red: Ms65, $4; MS66, $45; MS66+, $285; MS67, $3000
I wrote about how to select, grade and submit modern cents with strong strikes in this post, recommending viewers hone their grading skills by comparing their cents to counterparts on PCGS Photograde Online. Following my own recommendations, I then submitted the best eight 1973-D cents in my rolls to PCGS, hoping to get MS66 or higher for the coins.
Here’s how they came back:
As you can see, only one coin lapsed into the $4 MS65 category. On the positive side, seven of eight 1973-D submissions came back at MS66.
Each of those was worth $45 retail.
I’ll be submitting these coins to auction and using revenues to pay for holdering fees of $136. These coins are “red” but have pastel rainbow hues, so they are exceptionally pretty. I think I’ll keep one for myself!
After all, this is what coin collecting is all about, the ability to enhance grading skills, know varieties and devices, and spot bargains that most other collectors with lesser skills miss.
You can also hone your skills with Jefferson Nickels, which folks usually overlook. Ones with full steps on the reverse can bring even higher prices than cents, often in the hundreds of dollars at Gem for certain years and in the thousands of dollars at MS66 or MS67. Also look for full bands on the reverse of silver and clad Roosevelt dimes. You’ll be surprised at the values as hobbyists focus increasingly on condition rarity for their set registries.