Could coin dealers and show promoters agree on a common lighting standard?
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15 posts in this topic

11,793 posts

The Problem

Over the years I’ve examined thousands of coins including many that were accompanied by testimonials to their “beautiful rose-orange or tangerine-peach with a touch of watermelon” colors. While this kind of language is often associated with gold and especially sandblast proofs, it pervades other effusive descriptions. The plastic and related experimental pieces of WW-II are especially notorious for verbal color descriptions that are nowhere close to the actual color of the piece. (See Pattern and Experimental Pieces of WW-II, for more info.)

 

From my observations many of these descriptions – usually honestly made – are both inconsistent and largely inaccurate.

 

One Solution

When I examine a coin, I use an 18% gray card made by Kodak as the background and a halogen full spectrum light source. (A true flat-spectrum source can be made by combining several different types of light sources so they fill the spectral gaps of one another.) The viewing area is shielded as much as possible from stray light especially the cheap fluorescent and mercury-vapor lights found in large meeting rooms.

 

The most common result is that “greenish-highlight” gold loses the green and turns normal orange-gold or yellow; plastic experimental pieces described as “blue” turn out to be brown, etc. Silver coins become their original cream-white color and toning takes on its full range (or lack of range) of color.

A Thought or Two

If there were at least a spot where correct lighting and viewing backgrounds were available, it might improve the verbal descriptions of coins.

 

Readers’ thoughts?

 

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2,281 posts

I think most venues are florescent lighted and the operators could care less. Dealers showing their coins can provide the clip on shaded lights often seen, but the bulb being standard............I'd guess, unlikely.

 

Many Dealers would probably prefer you not see their coins in the best light.

 

 

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"Many Dealers would probably prefer you not see their coins in the best light."

 

Funny -- but true!

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3,299 posts

There should be top lighting and stereo microscopes with demos at the show manager's table. But certain dealers might complain.

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A Thought or Two

If there were at least a spot where correct lighting and viewing backgrounds were available, it might improve the verbal descriptions of coins.

 

There should be top lighting and stereo microscopes with demos at the show manager's table. But certain dealers might complain.

 

No, but they would (and probably SHOULD) complain about people wanting to leave the table with coins in order to go to such an area.

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"Many Dealers would probably prefer you not see their coins in the best light."

 

Funny -- but true!

i dont know why but i would agree with that one as well. just saying.

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Does NGC use a common lighting standard for grading coins? Is it a requirement that the lighting for each grader should be the same?

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I've never personally seen the interiors of TPG authentication vaults.

 

Of the many dealer and collector examination areas visited, most were entirely casual - clueless might be more accurate - about light color, intensity and contrast: there was no consistency.

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"Of the many dealer and collector examination areas visited, most were entirely casual - clueless might be more accurate - about light color, intensity and contrast: there was no consistency."

 

 

 

Right. This is why I was wondering about the TPGs?

 

As far as dealer and collector examination areas are concerned, I doubt you would get much cooperation from the former, as has already been mentioned. Is there no hand-held or head-mounted devices that would illuminate the coins adequately?

 

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Consistency would help - but it would require nearly identical full spectrum light and all would have to use the same kind of Kodak gray card.

 

I mentioned this to some people in the business end of numismatics and was roundly dismissed as being unrealistic, stirring up trouble and too "picky." I'll leave the negatives to your imaginations.

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For obvious reasons, I am inclined to believe that dealers do not have a financial interest in helping to make coin grading more consistent. Neither do the TPGs, for that matter, when you consider the loss of revenue from the deceased submissions for up-grades and crossovers that would result from consistent grading.

 

There is also the possibility that if you make coin collecting too easy, with little or no risk involved, people will lose interest.

 

Someone on the forum just harpooned their white whale. Would it have been more or less satisfying to do so, without the difficulty he overcame?

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115 posts

I prefer 100 watt at my table or at least 75. But some of them would rather have 40 lol. I remember one guy set up next to me at a show looking at new purchased coin under my lighting and commenting "my lighting just is not bright enough to evaluate my purchases (laughing)." Good luck in getting him to agree on even a minimum of 75 watt.

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A jar of fireflies for everyone?

 

Or -- build lights into the slabs.

 

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