If a grading company sends back your coin questioning its toning, is that the end of the matter? Or is your knowledge of toning so advanced that you can second-guess the grader and resubmit the same coin so that it comes back with a grade?
This is the topic of today’s column, and its intent is not to criticize coin graders at top companies but to make the point that toning on some coins is “questionable” (PCGS’s label) and really not 100% “artificial” (NGC’s label).
PCGS’s “questionable” label, technically, is more accurate on borderline coins, ones that truly tone spectacularly and others that coin doctors can re-create.
Perhaps that is why trustworthy sellers like APMEX®, a leading coin and bullion company, offer holdered coins like this “artificial” one (which, by the way, is not “artificial” but gradable in my view–a candidate for resubmission, if the toning was richer and the coin rarer).
As readers of Coingrader Capsule know, I submit mainly to PCGS because I have set registries there and appreciate the company’s acknowledgement that, indeed, some toning is a close call: it can go either way.
Disclaimer: We do not recommend resubmitting your artificially or questionably toned coins to a holdering company unless you are a skilled grader yourself. But you can submit through your local reliable coin dealer or get the opinion of a numismatist in your area who is expert in these matters.
I must have in my collection two dozen or more coins that initially were labeled questionable and later were resubmitted to be returned with a grade.
Here’s a recent example:
In the photo below, you can see the 1901-O Morgan has the same silver toning as the George Washington Carver commemorative (as I write being auctioned on Great Collections to see if my investment–a $50 eBay purchase–was worth my total expenses: $70). Because the Morgan below has the same toning as the Carver commemorative, I have resubmitted that Morgan coin, too (no report on that as yet).
I have had 100% good luck sending toned Eisenhower dollars to PCGS, perhaps because it has to crack out of proof Ikes from US mint plastic cases. Here’s an example of a breathtaking one:
However, it has been hit and miss at PCGS with coin sets that I know are authentic and that I have to crack out and submit as raw. I purchased two such sets in their US Mint cases, 1968-S and 1985-S, spectacularly toned. The 1985-S set came back as “questionable.” The 1968-S came back with grades.
Let’s compare the 1968-S half, quarter and dime with near exact toning, with the 1985-S counterparts.
So, you might ask, what is the benefit of knowing how to do this considering all the work and holdering fees that have to go into this practice? Answer: If you know your toning patterns from experience or education, you can cherry-pick NGC “Artificial Toning” and PCGS “Questionable Toning” coins at great discount on eBay, Proxibid, coin shows and other venues.
Most of us purchase toned coins raw and submit them, hoping for the best. Others pay top dollar for coins like mine on auction when they do not have to, provided that they master this particular skill.
Do you have toning stories that you might like to share with our viewers? I can learn from you just as you can from me in the comment section below.