Sarasota Rare Coin would like to that everyone who was able to attend our annual Holiday party. As usual the food and wine was great, Scott from the Butchers Block out did himself.

Sarasota Coin Club Dinner Meeting

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Current State of Generic Gold

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PCGS NEW HOLDERS            

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Great Wine, Food and Friends always makes the holiday party at huge success. Merry Christmas Everyone



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On March 25th PCGS announced their “Big One” after months of build up, creating a new service and technology called Secure Plus. The Big One is actually two announcements rolled into one service package. One Part is the secure part, while the second is naturally the plus component.  Here we will look at the new service and go over the likely effects of these changes to the industry and collectors.

The PCGS Secure part is a new proprietary technology designed to provide both consumer protection as well as consistency within the grading process. PCGS now has the technology to digitally capture the unique fingerprint of each coin and create a database that can be easily accessed by the finalizer. Using lasers to scan the previously entered coins, any change to the surfaces such as artificial toning, putty or any other surface altering techniques, will be automatically detected.  As a bonus the ability to recover stolen coins that have been previously scanned, is greatly increased due to the fingerprinting.  Because the finalizer can see the grade previously assigned it will assist in the struggle against gradeflation and improve consistency of the grading. Nothing short of destroying the coin can fool the software and not create a positive match with a previous scan.

The “Plus” component of the service is where the biggest changes to the market will be felt. Coins when submitted under the Secure Plus service are eligible to receive a plus grade. Only coins graded for XF45 to MS68 are eligible for plus’s at this time. Secure Plus service tiers at this time are Express and Walkthrough’s only. Regular submission tiers do not apply at this time. As the coin goes through the grading process, it is graded using a 70.0 point scale. Each grader assigns a grade with a decimal place and they are averaged and sent to the finalizer. Only the finalizer will see what the coin previously graded at and will use that information to help finalize the new grade. Prior submissions can both increase and decrease in grade. For example a coin with negative eye appeal could be dipped well and receive a higher grade, or a coin could have changed since its last scan such as artificial toning, putty or even a slide mark from being in an album. The prior information is just one more tool available to the finalizer to come to the appropriate grade. If the coin has a grade with a .7, .8, or .9 it is eligible for the plus grade as long as the eye appeal meets the requirements for that specific grade. Only the top 10-15% of each grade are likely to get this designation. The plus does not mean the coin is solid for the grade, it means it is exceptional for the grade. This is one of the differences between CAC and the Plus designation. Please remember that there will be plenty of nice quality coins that do not receive a plus grade, and should not be viewed as poor quality based solely on not receiving a plus.

Eye Appeal is one very important component of grade. For coins grading above MS/PR 60, eye appeal is one of the four components of grade. PCGS grading  guidelines are as follows.

For Mint State and Proof coins, the three factors comprising a coin's "technical grade" are:

Number and severity of marks and abrasions

Luster, or Reflectivity for Proofs

Strike, which is rarely a problem for proofs and strike is expected to be sharp, a weak strike being a deduction in the case of proofs.

For Circulated coins, there are:

The amount of wear. This is by far the most important factor in the grading of circulated coins.

 Marks and abrasions. Depending on the grade, a certain amount of marks and abrasions are expected with circulated coins. Severe or unusually serious marks "for the grade" can be a negative. The higher the circulated grade, the less severe marks can be before they would effect grade.

Luster. AU (Almost Uncirculated) coins should have some original luster. For lower grades color and originality have the same effect on grading as luster does for higher grades.

The "technical" grade of the coin is the grade of the coin based on the factors above without taking eye appeal into consideration. Eye appeal either adds or subtracts from the "technical" grade, or is neutral as a factor in determining the final grade. For toning, PCGS uses seven levels of eye appeal, from "Amazing" to "Ugly". For luster on mint state coins and depth of reflectivity on proofs, PCGS uses six levels of eye appeal, from "Amazing" to "Negative".

The following are the minimum standards for eye appeal on high grades: MS/PR68 – Must have positive eye appeal MS/PR67 – Must have above average eye appeal MS/PR66 – Cannot have below average eye appeal MS/PR65 – Cannot have negative eye appeal. A MS/PR65 coin can have below average luster or color (toning) if it is outstanding in every other way.

Plus Grades

High end coins for the grade, i.e. "plus" grades, cannot have negative or below average eye appeal for the grade.


Spots on gold coins, spots on copper coins, and "milk spots" on silver coins are not really part of eye appeal, but they are part of the grade and grade deductions are made similar to those made for marks or hairlines. In all three instances above we have minimum/maximum grade guidelines for spots.


This is a coin you look at and think "Wow!" This coin could have incredible luster and/or color, and/or mind boggling contrast if a proof or proof-like, and/or incredible mirror surfaces if a proof. Amazing eye appeal can add up to a full point to the "technical" grade.


This coin has outstanding eye appeal. This coin could have outstanding luster and/or color, and/or outstanding contrast for a proof or proof-like, and/or noticeably superior depth of mirror if a proof. Positive eye appeal can add up to a half-point to the "technical" grade. Note on toning: splotchy toning and/or deeply embedded toning is never positive no matter how "original."


This coin has above average eye appeal. It looks better than most examples you see of the particular "technical" grade. This coin could have above average luster and/or color, and/or above average contrast for a proof or proof-like, and/or somewhat above average depth of mirror if a proof. Above Average eye appeal can add up to a quarter point to the "technical" grade and/or can increase the grade of a "liner" coin. Note on toning: splotchy toning and/or deeply embedded toning is never above average no matter how "original."


The "neutral" eye appeal coin has a look that neither adds or subtracts from the technical grade of the coin. The luster, color, contrast (on proofs and proof-likes), and depth of mirror (on proofs) is what you'd expect of the grade. Note on toning: splotchy non-rainbow toning and/or deeply embedded toning is not "average," it is below average, negative, or ugly depending on the severity.


This coin has eye appeal that's somewhat below average for what you would expect of the grade. The luster could be a little dull. Perhaps the coin was dipped one too many times or the toning is a little dull and dampens the luster. The color could be a little splotchy or the toning a little embedded. The contrast on a proof or proof-like might be a little off. The depth of mirror on a proof might be below average. Below average eye appeal can subtract up to a quarter-point from the "technical" grade and should always preclude a "liner" from getting the higher grade.


This coin has eye appeal that is poor for the grade. The luster could be noticeably dull. Perhaps the coin was over-dipped or the toning is noticeably dull and dampens the luster. The color could be quite splotchy or the toning noticeably embedded. The contrast on a proof or proof-like might be substantially sub-par. The depth of mirror on a proof might be very poor. Negative eye appeal can subtract up to a whole point from the "technical" grade and should always preclude a "liner" from getting the higher grade.


This is a coin with toning that is downright ugly for the grade. The color could be very splotchy in a very unattractive way, or the toning very dark and very deeply embedded. Totally Ugly toning can subtract up to two points from the "technical" grade, or be so bad that the coin is a "no-grade' for "environmental damage."

Market Affect

The effect on the coin market will be interesting to say the least. The reality  of A quality coins is nothing new. Both collectors and dealers had regularly called these coins "premium quality" or "PQ". We have always known that premium coins bring better numbers on the bourse floor or in auction, but now we will be actually getting some pricing support in the form of price guides and auction records. The Greysheet will eventually show pricing for the plus grades and the certified coin exchange has already changed to support the plus structure. CCE is where publications such as the Greysheet get their pricing data based on the bids dealers have up to buy coins sight seen and unseen. The fact that the collector will be able to see a price for a plus should make a big difference. One of the limitations of CAC has been a simple way to know what a CAC coin is worth. They never produced a listed guide for coin values that they stickered, and even dealers didn’t know what things were valued at in many cases. Where the biggest differences will be seen are in the condition census coins (Pop Top) and in big spread coins such as dollars. Morgan dollars have huge spreads on certain dates from 64 to 65 and a PLUS coin will likely get a large premium. "The evolution of the rare coin marketplace has produced significant price gaps between some coins that are only one grade point apart. For example, the PCGS Price Guide lists 1880-O Morgan dollars as $2,000 graded PCGS MS64 and $25,000 in MS65. PCGS Secure Plus will more accurately reflect the quality and market value of coins designated as 'Plus' and meeting our strict requirements," said David Hall. As for type coins the highest grade coins could see big jumps as registry collectors fight for the cream of the crop. Remember the higher the grade the tougher it is going to be to get a star as the eye appeal requirements get very strict especially for things like spots.


-Better pricing for top quality within a grade increasing value.

-Better consistency in grading as well as detecting altered coins.

- More likely to be recovered if Secure Plus coin is stolen.

- More detailed pricing and better recognition of PQ coins.

- Consumer protection

- Registry bonus points


- Cost / Service fees start at $65 and up (Express service and up)

- Potentially negative effect on prices for non plus

- Confusion while new price guides take effect (Valuation questions)


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