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What would you rather have, a MS 1976 Lincoln penny or a MS LRB (late Roman bronze) ?


Al Kowsky
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For me the choice is easy, I'd prefer the mint state LRB over a mint state 1976 Lincoln penny ☺️. What triggered this silly question 🤔? Yesterday the COINWEEK website posted the article "United States 1976 Lincoln Memorial Cent". I always enjoy reading the articles from this website because they're usually well written & well researched.

https://coinweek.com/modern-coins/united-states-1976-lincoln-memorial-cent/

The article goes on to state that 4,674,292,426 of these coins were minted in 1976 😮! These coins are so common that very few of them have been slabbed by the 3rd party grading companies. I thought to myself, what types of Roman coins would be comparable to the 1976 penny, & Roman LRBs came to mind. LRBs were struck in the 100s of millions, & like 1976 pennies few have been slabbed because the cost of slabbing would exceed their value 😏. Duh. The article goes on to state that MS65 & 66 BR (bright red) 1976 pennies sell for $25/30, MS67 RDs can sell for $80/100, & MS68 RDs sell for $700 or more 😮! Heritage has even sold an example of a MS68 BR for $7,931.25 🙄!  Pictured below are 4 photos, courtesy of PCGS, of 1976 pennies graded MS68 BR, MS67+ BR, MS66 BR, & MS64 BR in descending order.

1073669099_4of4.jpg.51880218d678607c63bec460f4e30285.jpg

To my eyes the 3rd coin (MS66 BR) looks better than the first two coins 😲. What am I missing here? Modern coin grading has always confused me, what appears to be obvious "ain't necessarily so", as George Gershwin used to say 😏.

Getting on to late Roman bronze coins, LRBs can be had in mint state for $10/15, & examples with nice silvering might go as high as $25/35. So why would I pay $156.00 for the slabbed example pictured below 🤨? Admittedly most collectors would scoff at the price I paid for this LRB, & consider my purchase deranged 🤪. So be it. At the time I wanted an example from the Epfig Hoard, & this was the finest example I saw, & it slabbed to a high grade. Since I bought this coin prices on slabbed examples of this quality have dropped considerably because many examples have been slabbed. Do I now regret the purchase, no 😉. I'm happier with this coin instead of a slabbed 1976 Lincoln cent ☺️.

304400339_NGC5767882-158EpfigHoardAlKowskyCollection.jpg.2827e40acd2e896a3881d017a5e97479.jpg

 

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Very nice coin (LRB). Yes I don't know who is slabbing and selling the Epfig Hoard coins, but it seems to be Heritage themselves, since they have been dripping dozens into their auctions for months.

Slabbing coins like Lincoln cents and common LRBs is all about the grade. Authenticity is not in question. The coin is incidental. If I collect Lincoln cents, I just want a nice example of each year. If I collect grades, I want one with the highest out of 100 grades marked on it, since that's what I'm collecting. That's the only time it matters if it's MS68 BR, MS67+ BR, MS66 BR or MS64 BR. It doesn't matter I can get a raw coin for $20 because I want the grade.

You can't tell the difference between those grades unless you become an expert, which makes it meaningless for coin collectors, but crucial for grade collectors. It's like when you buy a diamond ring. No-one can tell the quality of a diamond from looking at it on your finger. But people pay thousands more to get the purest 'grade'. The assigning of a grade makes anything but the highest seem inferior. It's clever marketing by DeBeers and Heritage, but it's the Emperor's New Clothes.

Edited by John Conduitt
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1 hour ago, John Conduitt said:

Very nice coin (LRB). Yes I don't know who is slabbing and selling the Epfig Hoard coins, but it seems to be Heritage themselves, since they have been dripping dozens into their auctions for months.

Slabbing coins like Lincoln cents and common LRBs is all about the grade. Authenticity is not in question. The coin is incidental. If I collect Lincoln cents, I just want a nice example of each year. If I collect grades, I want one with the highest out of 100 grades marked on it, since that's what I'm collecting. That's the only time it matters if it's MS68 BR, MS67+ BR, MS66 BR or MS64 BR. It doesn't matter I can get a raw coin for $20 because I want the grade.

You can't tell the difference between those grades unless you become an expert, which makes it meaningless for coin collectors, but crucial for grade collectors. It's like when you buy a diamond ring. No-one can tell the quality of a diamond from looking at it on your finger. But people pay thousands more to get the purest 'grade'. The assigning of a grade makes anything but the highest seem inferior. It's clever marketing by DeBeers and Heritage, but it's the Emperor's New Clothes.

John, I think you're right, I've seen more on Heritage than any other auction house 😉. I lot of eBay vendors are hustling them too,  probably flipping them from Heritage auctions 😏. The volume of Efig hoard coins has decreased to a trickle, so maybe the market has digested most of them.

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