Why Won't They Grade My Coin?

 A day ago, popular Blogger lunaticg put up the post about my coins and banknotes grading services :"Dickson Niew Currency Grading Services." My Dickson Niew Collection Corner at Subang Jaya received many enquiries about my grading services.

Among questions they frequently asked were:Why the grading company still charged me when they didn't grade my coins?

They claimed they had waited for two months to four months to get their coins back from the grading service.When they received their coins, some of their coins were not slabs. Sometimes all their coins have been returned to them and were not even graded at all. But they still need to pay the grading fees.

This doesn't mean that these coins are worthless . Far from it. It just means that the grading service has decided in the interest of preservation of the coin, protection of value, or sight-unseen trading that the coin should not be slabbed.

There are currently ten different categories of "nograde" classifications currently in use by PCGS. If a coin falls into one or more categories, it will be returned unslabbed. These categories are:

Questionable Toning/Color - This was formerly referred to as ARTIFICIAL toning or color, but since there is so much controversy and subjectivity about this, the designation was changed. In fact, there are some toned coins that are virtually impossible to determine whether they are toned naturally or artificially.

Furthermore, there is considerable disagreement over what is natural and what is artificial. Everyone agrees that a coin that is intentionally dipped in Clorox until it turn purple is artificially toned. And nearly all experts agree that a coin that was dipped 10 years ago, and left to tone naturally in a coin album or envelope is a naturally toned coin. But what about a coin that has been left out in the sun in an envelope for few weeks? How about in an oven for four minutes?! Now you see the problem.
The graders who work at the grading services see every type of chemically related numismatic horror.They constantly see coins that have been toned with cigar smoke, sulfur, shoe polish and just about everything else ever thought up by a coin dealer's devious mind. Dealers are constantly trying to tone coins is such a way as to cover up defects or otherwise cause their coins to receive higher grades. The attempts people use to trick the graders are diverse, numerous and relentless. Graders are only human, and humans make mistakes. All the major grading services have graded some artificially toned coins,and have had to repurchase those coins. Naturally the graders responsible have been called to the carpet for their mistakes so it is understandable that some graders have gotten "gun-shy" of all toned coins. A few have become downright paranoid, and question the toning on coins that are absolutely original.
Most of the time, the grading services can tell if the toning on a coin is natural or artificial. Still, it can be pretty maddening to buy a 1915 proof set from a family that has held the set since Great-Granddad purchased it in 1915, and have some of the coins come back "Questionable toning." But it happens.So you grit your teeth, spend another submission fee and send the coins back. Or send it to another grading service. It's just a cost of playing the game.
Cleaning - As recently as the early 1980's, a fully struck choice coin that had been lightly cleaned might sell for 20 to 30% less than the same coin if it were completely original. Today, since that coin will most likely never make it into a slab, it probably trades for 20 to 30% OF (i.e. 70 to 80% off) the price of an original coin in the same grade. Severity of cleaning is very important, as is eye-appeal. A coin that was lightly wiped and since attractively and naturally toned back will almost always be graded. A coin that has been polished or harshly cleaned stands little or no chance of being slabbed.

Source:James L.Halperin,How To Grade U.S. Coins

To be continued....


  1. Sifu ,

    what is the best way to " wipe " the coin since some dust on the surface ?

    thanks & Regards

  2. Hi Wong,
    If the coin got some dust on the surface,soak them in the distilled water for half an hour then use a clean cloth "press" against the surface, do not wipe!

  3. Hi Wong,if the dust still cannot be removed, repeat the process again.