Allan W. writes: How much does the value of a coin affect the grade it receives? I have several common date Morgan dollars graded MS66 and recently purchased an 1892CC dollar in MS64. The MS64 dollar has fewer marks and distracting features than any of the MS66 coins. Is it possible that this coin is simply undergraded or did it receive a lower grade because there is a big jump in price between an MS64 and an MS65? This question is raised after reading an editorial in Coin World about a 1944 copper cent that was graded AU55 after previously grading EF40 three times with the reason given by the grading service that the higher grade was justified based on what the value of the coin should be.
The Coin Doc’s philosophy has always been to buy coins that please you no matter what grade is stated on the holder. It is true that each date and mint mark of Morgan Dollars is different and it is difficult to compare grade between dates. For example, the best MS 65 1904-P will never look as good as its graded counterpart 1881-S. How well the dies were made, the skill level of the mint workers at that time, the state of repair of the machinery, the striking pressure ordered, all come in to play in the appearance of the finished coin.
It is also probably true that the major grading services grade by price. PCGS and NGC are fully aware of the wide price differentials that exist and apply very strict standards to coins with a large spread between grades. Very rarely will they grade an “almost there” better date coin at the higher grade. I noticed that it’s very difficult to get 1883-S and 1884-S Morgans graded mint state. Collectors and dealers often joke that these two dates were simply struck in AU. However, similar condition common date pieces are very often graded MS60-62.
You can play the re-grade game if you wish but you may just be giving the grading services yet another donation. See: Should I get my coins re-graded?