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Do You Know What You’re Buying?

5th National Silver Dollar Convention

St. Louis, Missouri

November 8 – 11, 1984



Do You Know What You’re Buying?

By Louis Moreno, Jr.



The most recognizable coin in the world is the United States silver dollar.  More people buy them accordingly even though the majority of these buyers aren’t fully aware of what the grading system is all about.  How can people spend so much money knowing so little?  The collector who comes to purchase silver dollars finds the packaged coin with the grading indicated.  But many times appearances can be deceiving or confusing.  Terms such as “Gem BU or “Prooflike” can be mysterious to some.

Anyone can read a book on the grading system as many are available and written by knowledgeable individuals with years of coin experience.  However, only years of experience actually comparing coin to coin can afford the knowledge necessary to truly know the grading system in its entirety.  Most would-be purchasers of MS-65 coins are misled by the piece being fully struck with minimum bag marks but lacking luster.  This same buyer may admire a rainbow-toned coin with noticeable marks or softer strike which is beautifully camouflaged by the toning.  Which coin is the true MS-65?  Or is grading only a matter of personal opinion?  Is beauty only in the eye of the beholder?

The present system of MS 60 – 63 – 65 doesn’t solve the problem anymore.  Too many factors are involved.  Coins purchased in the 1980 coin market as MS-65 may not hold up to today’s stricter grading rules.  Collectors should be aware that coins graded MS-65 with ANACS papers also many not meet today’s requirements.  This is not meant to be a reflection on the ANACS grading, but a statement of reality.

Several large companies are presently advertising MS-65 dollars with ANACS papers and selling them for 20% off bid.  Why?  Are these coins truly MS-65 and how can these companies afford these discounts?

We members of the Round Table are trying to find a solution to this problem that will be understood by all, novice and expert alike.  We are currently compiling a pricing guide based on actual trading prices in today’s market obtained from the dealers themselves.  This cross section of dealers is involved with every grade and variety of all dollars as well as most other denomination of coinage.  From the professional standpoint, these individuals know what they are doing.

Consideration of an MS-64 grade is underway and may be incorporated to help solve the problem.  Articles previously published here have explained this quite completely.  The best advice to the potential collector/investor is if you can’t really understand and know the grading system for the coin yourself, know the dealer you purchase it from.

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