> > I hate to burst your bubble, but those who specialize in ancient coins
> > professionally do not think that ANY grading company is really competent
> > attribute or authenticate ancient coins accurately.
> But surely there are standards of grading ancient coins.
Yes, you will find a reasonable introduction to the subject at
Unfortunately, grading ancient coins is so complex that it is very difficult
to reduce a well expressed grade to a Sheldon number. To give you an
example, some coins that grade VF for preservation are more desirable and
more valuable than some coins that grade EF for preservation.
The difference, of course, is that there are so many variations in flan
quality, engraving quality of the dies, and strike quality that large
differences in desirability existed at the time that these coins were
struck. To that we now have to add variations in surface quality,
patination, and toning.
> If so, there
> are people who have mastered those grading standards. If there are
> people that have mastered them, then a really competent grading company
> can be formed.
There is one. http://www.davidrsear.com/
But David Sear would be insulted to be described as a "grading company." He
authenticates coins and the grade assignment is just a part of that service.
> The real question is this: If such a grading company were to be formed,
> would ancient collectors use it?
No experienced ancient coin collector that I know likes slabbed coins. When
I buy a slabbed coin at auction I remove it from the slab. It is worth less
in the slab than out.
> Seems to me that the existing grading companies gained success from two
> market segments: newbies afraid of being taken because they didn't know
> how to tell cleaned or counterfeit American coins, plus coin investors.
The whole concept of slabbing coins was driven by the idea that grading
coins could be reduced to a formula and that coin values could be accurately
assigned according to the grade. Collectors being what they are, of course,
they have still found ways to differentiate between coins of the same grade.
It's humorous, really. Personally, I find coins that are so similar that
they can only be accurately graded using a microscope to be boring. Counting
how many steps are visible on the entrance stairway to Monticello, for
example, is a lot less significant to me than assessing the strike quality
and patina on a Roman sestertius.
I should mention that I was, for several years, employed by one of the
largest volume dealers in US coins, and have probably graded more US coins
than some of those who are now employed by grading services.
> But isn't such investing - particularly with an eye towards MS60-MS70
> coins - pretty much an American coin phenomenon?
I really can't comment on that because I got out of dealing in US coins
before slabbing was introduced. In those days investors focused on rarities,
and investment level coin trading of coins that were not rare (such as 1909
SVDBs) was by BU rolls or even by mint bags.
There are many collectors of ancient coins who acquire their coins as
investments. That is even more common in Europe than it is in the USA. Such
collectors tend to focus on coins in the finest condition and in the best