One of the beauties of grading is the ability to find rolls of modern uncirculated coins that others overlook, believing them to be common and not worth slabbing. I have had luck in the past, holdering rainbow cents from double mint sets and individual cents from shotgun rolls.
As usual with Coingrader Capsule, we not only will share our methods but also test them in this and in forthcoming articles over the next few months.
Last year I acquired a shotgun roll of 1973-D Lincoln Cents that had evidence of toning and sharp strikes. I compared their condition with ones on PCGS Photograde Online and believed them to be in the MS66-67 range. They are fully red with faint rainbow tone and hence may grade red-brown at PCGS, but they are lovely.
PCGS posts values for these coins at $47 for MS66, $275 for MS66+, and $3000 for MS67.
The 1973-D Lincoln Cent does not normally have a strong strike, so I might have a chance at MS66, allowing me to keep the best of the batch and use the rest to pay for the rolls, which I acquired for $25. That’s a tidy profit, even when paying $136 for holdering and mailing. The downside, and it is steep, is what may occur if the coins grade MS65, which lists retail at $4 apiece.
As with any gamble, the odds are in the favor of those who know how to grade. So this is a test of my skills with modern cents (not my usual collectible, by the way). So indeed, I may fail the test.
Coin Update News attests that this post was sent in on May 22, 2013. See the screenshot from my PCGS order page with the red circle around the submission. Those are the 1973-D cents. When they grade, we’ll report again on this test and tally winnings or loses.
In the meantime, here’s a numismatic exercise that you can do.
- Study the values page of your favorite holdering company to determine what years of modern Lincoln Cents at MS66 or MS67 bring the best prices. Most 1959-1980 cents in MS66-67 red can bring hundreds if not thousands of dollars, with a very steep drop at the Gem MS65 level.
- Search at your local coin shop or online for a brilliant uncirculated roll of modern cents, usually costing about $5 per roll. (Don’t balk at buying a shotgun bank roll as long as the coins on the ends are strong, indicating that those inside will be comparable.)
- Compare the condition of your coins with the grades as found on PCGS Photograde Online to determine if they are worth submitting.
Keep in mind that you’re making the decision to submit (not Coin Update News) and that your skills may vary with PCGS, NGC, ANACS or ICG typically grading harsher than collectors. But if you can master this exercise, you stand to make a profit. And if you cannot master the exercise, you’ll be enhancing your grading skills nonetheless.