In the past some of the most popular Coingrader Capsules have dealt with Morgan Silver Dollar deep mirrors and numismatic photography. The reason for their popularity, I believe, is that far too many of us have made mistakes based on overzealous lot descriptions and/or poor digital imagery.
Here’s a short list of those popular topics:
The ability to discern a deep mirror prooflike coin (DMPL) that will grade at NGC or PCGS is difficult enough when inspecting the coin in person at a show or shop, for instance. A Morgan Dollar has a chance to be DMPL reflecting text 4-6 inches away from the source; however, 6 or more inches is better.
Factor this, too: When you’re buying online, crisp expandable photos are a necessity. You also must deal with a reputable seller who knows how to grade. But the worst combination involves poor photography and overzealous sellers who, alas, do not know how to grade mint state and condition.
Recently I purchased a coin online from a previously trusted seller who believes he is a numismatist. I’ve been collecting for more than a half century and devote hours of personal time each week to learn more about coins, grading, condition, value and design. Some sellers just haven’t invested enough time to learn the art of grading.
Click to expand the image below and read how this 1921 Morgan Dollar was photographed and then described as deep mirror, with reflectivity from 6+ inches away, MS64-65, “a gorgeous coin” full of mint luster and cartwheels.
I had purchased from this seller before and was reasonably happy with my won lots, and so I made the mistake of half-believing the lot description. I paid $80 for the coin, taking a risk, because a prooflike (let along DMPL) 1921 Morgan can be worth several hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Click here to view an NGC 1921 MS63 DMPL that sold for $1,116 in 2013. This 1921 PCGS MS65 DMPL sold in 2006 for almost $15,000.
So of course I knew that my $80 bid would not bring a DMPL at MS64 or 65; but even at MS63PL, we’re still talking about a $250 coin.
This is the coin that I won, properly photographed.
As you can see, this Morgan has little reflectivity, is harshly cleaned and then buffed, and is destroyed–a true silver melt coin worth no more than $25 or so.
Although I won the coin on Proxibid, you can find the same over-enthusiastic sellers using the word “DMPL” on eBay. Put “DMPL Morgan” in a search on eBay and see what you find–a range of true DMPLs to cleaned and polished ones.
Below is a screen shot of a true DMPL on eBay. The mirror is so reflective that the line of the printed color page leading up to the coin is mirrored with high-definition precision.
I could have returned the coin, but I hold myself responsible for believing the hype. So I will take the loss of close to $60 and give the silver dollar to my granddaughter rather than consign to an auction, just to keep it out of hobbyist circulation. I also accept the reality that buying online is like gambling in a casino at times, and this purchase proves it.
The consequence for the seller, however, is my lack of future patronage.
When buying DMPLs online, check out other items by a seller. The more DMPLs being sold, the greater the probability of polishing or alteration. Also read previous Coin Update articles on DMPLs and how to determine whether you actually have one.
Finally, it’s okay to make the mistake that I did. It is not okay to make the same mistake twice … with the same seller.