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OK, fans of coins from across the pond.

Or not.

Its time to




Lets see how everyone grades this in US and in British (which is different).

A winner gets all of the others to genuflect in his or her general direction.

Good luck.

1719 farthing.jpg

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OK, I'm game, AU-55. At times if a coin is weakly struck it is more difficult to differentiate between MS and AU. This coin however appears to be a decent strike. Thus what appears to be rub or wear on the highest relief due to the difference in luster, i.e. shiny spots, I give it AU.

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This 1719 farthing was made well before the advent of steam powered machinery to produce coins, which only got into high gear at the Soho Mint in the 1790s.

The first pieces made for circulation by steam power are dated 1797.

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There appears to be wear on some of the tips of the features of the obverse. That said minus a loop and some improved light I'd guess AU58. This assumes the die was not lacking in its detail at its high points. If the die was lacking the piece may range above MS60.

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OK, since there are no other estimates, here we go.

I honestly did not expect such a difference in opinion, as we have:


gherrman 55

Jeffrey Dickson, say 60

Welsh Dragon 65.


The winner, based on the certified NGC score, being the closest, IS

(the envelope please.......)

WELSH DRAGON, for being two points off the certified grade of 63. We can all genuflect in your direction.... if we knew where you live. But its not necessary unless you wish to.

But before you get so stoked you do a personal best in powerlifting or startling your girls with shouts of glee, consider this.

gherrman and Dickson in my opinion are ALSO both right in that they detect a bit of wear. And this shows the difference between British and US grading.

This piece was bought raw and submitted to NGC for slabbing. It was NOT bought as a mint state coin but as a "good EF". Many British pieces described as such are graded in the low 60s in the States.

Here is my take on this.

I dont believe this piece ever saw circulation as I dont see any marks on the coin that would indicate it. Leaving the probable wear out of it, the surfaces appear to be very choice.

But here is the tricky part. Coins made prior to the advent of steam power are notorious for weak and incomplete strikes. Copper coins in Britain, especially during this period, are notorious for poor strikes, as there was little or no quality control on their production. Dies were used until they wore down or broke entirely. 

A more typical example of this series is one which Ive attached pictures of here (not mine). When you look at it, if you are used to 19th or 20th century coinage using steam power, you might say the attached piece is say a good VF on the obverse. But hold on to your chair when I tell you the certified grade (PCGS).


The strike is incomplete because of the worn out dies used in its production, thereby losing quite a bit of detail.

Back to my piece, then, fields are excellent and strike is unusually complete for the series. While there is no red, understandable for a 298 year old coin, surfaces look fresh and original.

Where both gherrman and Dickson come in is that there appears to be a bit of wear, especially on the reverse, especially along the leg of Britannia, the shiny area, and possibly along the tips of the laurels on the obverse.

So how can an apparently uncirculated piece show a bit of wear? By how it was stored. Most likely for 12 generations or so, this piece was stored in an old fashioned wooden coin cabinet. The coin cabinet would have wooden shelves with holes in it with velvet on the bottom of the hole. the coin would be placed on the velvet. Over nearly three centuries, the process of opening and closing the shelve to the cabinet would result in a very small amount of wear and a shiny spot caused by the friction, as the coin moved to and fro in the hole (not cut to the size of the coin, but bigger, so the coin would move back and forth).

Despite the probable wear however, the strike on this piece is  superior to the attached picture of an Ms 65 farthing of the same type. So to my eye, my piece is superior to the 65 even though it is graded 63 and may have a tiny touch of wear (called cabinet friction in the UK). Anyone of course is entitled to disagree , if for example they like the bit of red on the other piece,but that is my take on it.

So, grading is more art than science. Different elements come into play, with surfaces being the primary one in the US. In the Us, this piece is graded in the Unc zone. In Britain, ANY wear for whatever reason is cause for knockdown to good EF.

So, for different reasons, all 3 participants have valid points to make.

Thanks for taking part. I hope everyone got something out of it, and of course feel free to discuss further if you want.



1723 farthing, Ms 65.jpg

1723 farthing, Ms 65, reverse.jpg

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I should have known better.  I guessed MS65 based on what I would have given it, but I should have known to knock off a couple marks to accommodate for the "NGC factor". :roflmao:


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Youll do better next time.^^

I mean, on the other piece, look at the knee area of Britannia on the reverse. Looks like chunks are taken out of it, yet graded as 65.  Also little hair detail on the kings portrait. But it looks like they saw zero wear, good fields, and the bit of red. No consideration of the strike although it is more typical of the type.

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I think it's safe to say that I'll never get this grading thing figured out.  

Your piece has amazing surfaces. And given that NGC grades on that the most, I was leaning towards a 66 at first. And then to see that this was made about 80 years before steam, I thought the strike was also amazing. But I did see the shinny spots that I considered as some wear. So I dropped my guess to a 65. The only thing left that I was thinking of was eye appeal. And when you compare it to many other pieces (including the piece you've added to this post), the eye appeal is also amazing. 


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I thought about the cabinet friction factor but then how do you differentiate between cabinet friction and legitimate wear? The key must be the other surfaces where there is no wear or break in the luster whatsoever. It is a very nice piece for a pre-steam strike. ...and yes I did get something out of this exercise, thanks for posting.

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Glad you like it. Some would be put off by the apparent wear and shiny stuff on the reverse. Others would like the red on the other piece, and the strike on its reverse is pretty good.

To each his/her own.

I may have posted this before but here is a PROOF George I farthing, 17`17 (the first type, not the type we were discussing). Mintage probably around 20, I think less.

The Mint Master at the time, many would say, was one of the 100 most important people who ever lived (Isaac Newton).

1717 proof farthing.jpg

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ghermann, for the Brits, wear is wear no matter the reason. Not necessarily so in the Us, if the friction/wear is very slight.And pre 1797 British coinage is even more difficult as we saw on the Ms 65 piece as poor die quality and incomplete strike, due to the semi- manual nature of the production process then (there had been a progression from hammered pieces from even earlier), can lead many to mistake it for wear. As I said on balance, for me, I knew that the strike on my piece was unusually good and complete and so more design elements are present, despite the wear/cabinet friction, than the MS 65 piece, especially on the obverse. So that was my preference. Others can disagree. I had a chance to buy the 65 piece, by the way.

I think modern pieces are far easier to grade as strike and die wear are usually not nearly as much of an issue, although quality in Britain deteriorated after Victorias reign (in my opinion), during the reigns of Edward VII and George V.

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Your coin for a lesser grade has far superior eye appeal than the copper farthing. To my own taste I'll always take eye appeal over grade. I whole-heartily agree with your assessment and choice. 

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Thanks. For me , it's another example of the saying,  " buy the coin, not the holder".

it took a LONG time to find a piece with this kind of strike . Since then, I'm aware of others of the same type, but different dates. 

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