Grand Canyon 2010-P America the Beautiful Coins: Errors and Varieties

Last week I learned that several collectors reported discovering 2010-P Grand Canyon five-ounce silver America the Beautiful (ATB) coins with unusual finishes, and that NGC had decided to certify some coins as having a “light finish” variety. I became intrigued by this issue and decided it was something collectors would want to know more about. In the days since my initial story was published [], some more information has emerged, so I decided to find out as much as I could about this matter, and to do a follow-up.

Although last week virtually everyone assumed that there were just two varieties of the coin, the normal one and the light finish, I have since learned that a couple of collectors have what they believe is a “no finish” coin that also has unusual brush marks on the obverse.

On July 25, NGC announced that it had graded the first Yellowstone 2010-P error coin, which it calls “with unfinished reverse.” It said that the coin grades SP69 and appears to be unique at the moment, but that others may exist. I contacted NGC on July 22 to ask if they had any plans to designate coins that totally lack the vapor-blasted finish, and I was told they did not.

From what I have been able to determine, PCGS has not yet decided how to handle these coins, but this is a rapidly evolving situation.

I also contacted the U.S. Mint for comment on the issue of different or no finish coins. Its spokesman, Michael White, told me he is checking into the issue. I will update this story if I receive any information.

My own research leads me to believe that at least two collectors have received coins with no finish on one or both sides, and I would not be surprised if more such coins exist.

Steve from Missouri, who is a collector who buys gold and silver mint products and also collects classic series like Buffalo nickels and silver dollars, purchased one such coin. He said in a comment to my previous article that “I have a 2010 P Grand Canyon purchased from the Mint with what looks to have no VB [vapor blasted] finish. It does appear to have light horizontal brush marks on the obverse side like it was processed without going though the final finish.”

Photographs of his coin appear with this story. The coin on the left is the normal, vapor blasted coin, and the one on the right is the error coin with no finish. The coins are placed in the same order in the first photographs above that show the reverses of Steve’s coin. He said that he is “very excited about the ATB series, and this Grand Canyon coin makes the sacrifices of purchasing seem to be worthwhile.”

Another collector, Aaron J. Gelner, reported on July 12 on the PCGS Collectors Universe message board that his barber, Tom Schneider, received two coins from the Mint and that one of them totally lacked the post-strike, vapor-blasted finish that is normally applied to the collector versions of these coins.

That led to a discussion on the PCGS board about the different degrees of vapor blasted finish on the coins. Some collectors seem to be very excited about the different finish, while others think the whole issue is overblown. But Mr. Gelner stressed that his barber’s coin was different than coins that have a lighter finish than others because it has no special finish. Such coins would appear to be errors rather than varieties.

On July 19 John Maben, a longtime leading dealer and owner of Modern Coin Mart, said in the same online forum that he submitted over 100 Grand Canyon coins to NGC and 100 to PCGS and that NGC gave six of his coins a “light finish” attribution. Presumably this is what led to the July 20 NGC press release about the light finish variety.

Mr. Maben added that although PCGS did not give special attribution to any of his coins, they are aware of the partial finish and are trying to decide “what if anything to do about it.”

Mr. Maben and another dealer who received coins that have been attributed by NGC with the “light finish” designation have listed their coins for sale on e-Bay for prices ranging from $800 to $5000 depending on the grade. So far the highest grade I know of for the light finish coins is SP68, which is the coin listed for $5000. Another seller has an ungraded coin, which they describe as having a light finish, listed for sale at $625. None of the e-bay coins has sold, as far as I know.

Some of the PCGS posters said they were concerned that John Maben was receiving preferential treatment by NGC and that he asked them to give special attribution to the coins with different finishes. But Mr. Maben strongly denied those accusations and said that he did not ask for the special attribution but that he did make NGC aware of the discussion in the PCGS thread. He also defended his decision to use a buy it now price of $999 for the highest graded coin of his that came back as light finish, an SP67. He noted that doing so would help to establish the coin’s value.

In the PCGS discussion thread, one poster noted that if you look at the Hot Springs ATB shown in the MintTV video which was on YouTube, and which Michael posted [], the coin has a P mintmark but has a shinny, not a matte finish, as the 2010 P’s normally have.

Mr. Gelner also said that the no finish coin he has seen has lots of hairlines on the obverse (which are probably not evident on most coins with the post-strike finish that covers up such imperfections) which he believes are due to wiping across the surface. Several people have noted that these marks seem as if they were made by a machine, not by someone wiping the surface by hand. Mr. Gelner said that Mr. Schneider was originally going to send his coin to PCGS but has decided to wait and see first how they decide to handle such coins.

At this point if you are looking to buy coins with the light finish attribution, I would avoid ungraded examples and would be cautious about paying high premiums for graded ones. On the other hand if you received such a coin from the Mint, and especially if you received an error coin with no finish, you would be well advised to submit it for grading, as your coin could be very valuable.

If any readers believe they have light finish or no finish coins, I encourage them to post comments to this article so that we can get a better idea of how many of these coins exist and whether there are other errors and varieties out there.

Update: The US Mint has released a statement regarding the inconsistent finishes that have been encountered.

Louis Golino is a long-time collector, numismatist, and numismatic writer. His articles have been published in Coin World, Numismatic News, and other publications. He also writes a regular column for and has written widely about international politics for newspapers and web sites.


  1. Tim says

    Very interesting indeed but, alas, I never am that lucky to get what will turn out to be a rarity. Just my opinion.

  2. Louis Golino says

    Tom, I know what you mean as I have never received an error either.

    FYI re: the 1933 Double Eagles: The Smithsonian Channel (565 and 1565 on Direct TV) is broadcasting a special on the 1933 Double Eagle coins tonight at 8:00 pm. Although not related to the article, I thought people would be interested and wanted to get the word out.

  3. GP says

    I have received one of the light finish variety. Not sure if the timing matters but I had ordered it within the first few minutes of it becoming available on the US Mint site.

  4. CaptainOverkill says


    Thank you for doing the legwork on this. I unfortunately do not have one and am unlikely to ever find one, but this is immensely interesting to read about.

  5. Louis Golino says

    Thanks, Captain. At least the prospect of possibly finding one makes things more interesting.

  6. Simon says

    This is exactly the hype that is ruining the hobby. A valuable error would be : bullion coin sold as bullion with a faint “P” mint mark, or a VB coin with no mint mark. 5K for a partially finished coin – wow! I have a variety of Lincoln cents with various degrees of shine and polish – does this make them rarities, and by extension if I grade a few of them, do I have ultra valuables just because the population stats are low? ! Incredible…

  7. Richard Ellis says

    I have two 5 oz. Grand Canyon coins, one with normal finish and one with NO Vapor Blasting. My NO Blasting is on both sides and there are no marks on Washington’s cheek. I have sent pictures to Coin World & NGC. I used a 10X glass to view the coins.

  8. Tim says

    I have a couple of these “no finish” coins, as well. I actually saw the coins on eBay first and was surprised to come up with a couple. I did note the remark about the SP67 being the highest grade at the time of the eBay post. I’ll have to wait on NGC but I will disappointed if both of these aren’t 69s. I didn’t buy them to sell, but I suppose it would be nice to get “lucky”….

  9. Glenn S says

    Has anyone else received what they believe is a double die on any of these? I have one coin i think of NP3 that seems to be double die because on the lettering at the top and also of i think the picture you can see doubling like an extra edge that seems to be clear with a 3x magnifier..Just wondering! I have only opened 1 of the 3 Np4 that i have received and alas mine seems normal.well i did send one back because of the flat spots along the top rim that even shows in the pictured product on this article above washingtons head.Are a lot of people getting those flat spots on the raised rim band above washingtons head or on the other side? I think at least half of mine have come like this and i wonder how much that would drop their grade if that was the only problem you could notice??? Any help would be appreciated!

  10. Jim says

    I just read my post from ngc concerning the grand canyon p and one of five coins has been given the petagree light finish. No grade yet…

  11. RPW says

    “Another collector, Aaron J. Gelner, reported on July 12 on the PCGS Collectors Universe message board that his barber, Tom Schneider, received two coins from the Mint and that one of them totally lacked the post-strike, vapor-blasted finish that is normally applied to the collector versions of these coins.”

    Assuming we are talking about the ATB Grand Canon Coin as it relates to this article, I’m just wondering how Mr Schneider received “2” coins if the Limit per household is One Coin.
    As always – I guess there is no consistency when it comes to the US Mint.

    FYI…The First ATB Grand Canyon Coin I received was flawed (had what appeared to be scuff marks on the Face of Washington) so I sent it back for replacement. I hope that was not an “Error Coin”. The replacement coin I received seems to have a very light vapor finish – Lighter than the 3 previous ATB’s I have. Just received the replacement today – after a LONG wait. If you ever return a coin to the mint – don’t expect a replacement for at least 6 weeks!

  12. RPW says

    One other question:

    It is my understanding that dealers are under the same restrictions as the general public with regard to purchasing coins from the Mint so they can only purchase 1 ATB coin at a time.
    So how does Mr Maben submit 100 coins to NGC or PCGS? You can’t tell me he has that many people buying coins for him.

    Something looks really fishy and is starting to stink with this coin collecting business! As a new collector – it’s starting to look like Wall Street and the US Government. No wonder the world is such a mess!

    PS …I agree with Simon’s post above. Seems everyone has an angle now days and it’s taking the fun out of having a genuine Error coin. Think I’ll just invest in bullion rather than deal with this. It seems like there are scam artist on every corner!

  13. SB says

    In defense of Modern Coin Mart–there is nothing they are doing wrong. They buy coins on the secondary market, usually at a premium. I would not be surprised if they get 100 folks reselling to them because they often offer good prices. That’s business. Their customer service, prices, and contribution to the community make them one of the best in the business. My two cents —SB

  14. JTL says

    WOO HOO!!! I just checked my Yosemite vs my Grand Canyon and yup, definitely a different finish on the GC. Now what to do with it? The only coin dealer in my area sends his coins to PCGS. If NGC is the only company giving the special designation I’m kinda stuck. Guess I’ll just have to pony up the membership fee so I can send it in.

  15. Louis Golino says


    Congrats on the coin. After my article was published PCGS decided to issue special designations for these coins as well. Check the PCGS web site for more info.

  16. Kevin Fogarty says

    1 of 2 GC ATB were graded a Light Finish by NGC although the grade was SP63! The other was normal finish SP70 so that seems like I am breaking even. Thinking of cracking and returning the SP63 to the mint, it is truly a poor strike.

  17. Louis Golino says

    You may want to keep the light finish in the NGC holder. Although the grade is low, something like 5% or fewer are light finish. It’s hard to predict future value for these, but I suspect they will continue to carry a substantial premium. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Kevin Fogarty says

    Interesting point. Thanks! Maybe this is a new ‘Light Strike’ Variety. I just looked at it again compared to the SP70 and I am surprised the mint let it out as soft as it is not being a bullion issue. Also with the restriction removed, I picked up 2 more so we’ll see if I am..lucky? again.

  19. Glenn S says

    RPW i too returned a low quality coin NP4 that had a lot of flat marks along the top rim above Washington..Quite common fro what i have received =( Should have sent some back before and like you it took forever to receive my replacement.I got it like 4 days ago and IT too seems to have a light finish on it..It is not Prooflike like some of the Bullion ones i received but Washington is shiny looking and the reverse is much morereflective to light then any others.Seems to be the later ones are the light finish rather then the earlier ones =) I’m keeping mine and luckily it is a clean coin very nice condition!! Still no one else has commented on a double die on any of these?

  20. Ikaika says

    Hi Louis,
    Have there been any reports of ATBs P being shipped with the coin missing? I purchased the Hot Springs and waited until the arrival of Mount Hood to open the boxes. For my surprise, no coin inside the Hot Spring Box. Will contact the mint.

  21. Philomena says

    Hi Louis,
    Are you aware of any ATB’s P being shipped without the coin. I purchased the Hot Springs an waited until the Mount Hood to open the boxes. For my surprise, there was no coin in the Hot Springs mint box. Will contact the mint. THX

  22. Louis Golino says

    I have not heard of boxes being shipped without the coins. Definitely contact the Mint. It seems like you would have been able to tell from the weight that no coin was inside. I would suggest opening and checking everything after receipt so that you don’t have any problems unless you plan on sending for first strike grading, in which case it would be advisable to see if the weight of the box seems about right. Good luck getting you coin or a refund. I’m not sure what will happen since Hot Springs is no longer available.

  23. Joe says

    I ordered one of each P coins from the mint, just checked and found the surface smooth and shiny on my Grand Canyon and Hot Springs.
    Compared both to the SP70 graded by NGC I own and the two bought from the mint are definitely different from all others.
    Now the Question is should I send them to NGC or PCGS, I am member in both.

  24. Robert says

    Have there been any reports of edge incription being missing? I just received a glacier pcgs ms69dmpl that does not have the .999 fine silver 5.0 ounce leterring on its edge.

  25. Louis says

    I have not heard any other reports about missing edge lettering. Thanks for reporting this. May I ask where you purchased the slabbed coin?

  26. Robert says

    It was a first time purchase from APMEX. I’ve bought bullion 5oz ATB’s from other suppliers so when I saw this slabbed Glacier for a better price I thought I’d give them a try. When I received my order I was surprised that there was no edge inscription so I examined it closely with a magnifying glass to make sure. I contacted APMEX and they said to send it back but I told them I wanted to investigate it first. Hard to believe that a slaabed coin could make it out with this type of error.
    One of the other coins I ordered (a 2004 silver eagle BU) also arrived in a very tarnished condition, I’m sending that one back for sure.

  27. Louis says

    Thanks, Robert. Definitely don’t send the error ATB back to APMEX! It is probably worth substantially more than a regular coin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *