Not long ago I picked up the five coins shown in the above photos at a local coin show (close up shots are below).
They are Australian QEII florins from late in the series, not the hardest to come across by any means but they presented nicely and it would be great to have examples in really top quality. The price was right and it made sense just to grab them all so that I could then take the time to give them a good going over and separate any wheat from the chaff.
Optimism is part and parcel of the hobby, and, happily, not always unjustified (!).
Anyway, I don’t think there’s a lot to be gained by too much scrutinising at the dealer’s table for what is a common coin type. You really only run the risk of causing irritation and possibly offence, especially if you end up not purchasing and, even worse, attempting to explain by pointing out what you regard as issues that put you off… some things are better off left unsaid.
Also, great coins are rare for a reason – not everyone has them available for sale and it would be extremely counter-productive to jeopardise your chances of adding a hard-to-get beauty to your collection at a later date, just because of a simple misunderstanding over a much less desirable deal now.
In this instance no outrageous claims were being made and there was always the possibility that the group might contain an outstanding example…as a collector you live in hope but, as it turned out, hope was dashed once again!
No overlooked ‘Choice Unc’ here, only what looks to me like ‘Unc’ or MS60-62…solid stuff right enough, however not up to the level of the one in the box (MS64 according to PCGS) which was my reference coin and exactly what was required to do a reasonable job of assessing my purchases.
Having the right slabbed stuff on hand is helpful, still, coin grading is more art than science and includes a healthy dose of personal preference – for some, each of those five shiny florins only makes ‘almost Uncirculated’ on account of the evidence of rub and wear visible over the portrait.
For me that is either being a bit too harsh on these particular coins, or, dare I say it – a result of misinterpreting the grading system – as the descriptive category ‘Uncirculated’ does not mean that the coin has never been spent and is totally pristine…uh oh – see how easy it is to spark controversy over a high grade!
Far better to just acknowledge that none of the group of five is better than the one in the box which frankly is a useful result and really does help us all understand what it takes for a coin to hit the very top levels.
The problem of course is that it’s not uncommon for there to be significant jumps in estimated worth between grade levels, particularly at the higher end – you could be looking at double the ask or even more which definitely adds a certain spice to the question of ‘aUnc vs Unc’.
The best choice
No-one wants to miss out on a bargain, but rather than concentrating on convincing someone about the exact precise grade, it’s a much better option to be completely clear in your own mind about what quality of coin you are really after…before you go shopping – and, if it’s not there, then don’t worry about it – regardless of how it’s labelled or priced.
Easy to say…of course to be able to do that, we need close up experience with more than a few excellent examples of the piece we’re chasing…admittedly, it’s a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation but, hey, what’s life without a little risk now and then!
Worthwhile in the end
In this case I can honestly say that I’m not unhappy with what transpired. Okay, I didn’t score a super florin this time, however I did learn a bit more and possibly added to my skills.
Although it’s tough to beat having the coins in hand, hopefully the photos can at least help you out a bit, too!
Close up photos
Many thanks for reading!
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