1921 Sandblasted/Antique Peace Dollar?
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Hello everone!

I just have a question about my new 1921 peace dollar.This peace dollar has a very unusual surface. It has a flat grainy gray texture and has dark patina close to the devices and near the rims. There is no cartwheel luster whatsoever. Is this possible that this coin is a 1921 specimen (not a proof) sandblasted/antique peace dollar? One from the Baker estate was sold in 2014. Apparently the coin was created by taking a regular high relief circulation strike and then sandblasting/antiquing the coin. You can view/read about that coin here: https://auctions.stacksbowers.com/lots/view/1-1N8KI 

PCGS estimates the mintage to be around 8. Is it possible that this coin was overlooked by NGC a long time ago, since it was graded several years ago? This coin is graded by NGC but does not note any special finishes on the label. Maybe it's just an interestingly toned ordinary 1921 peace dollar? I'm just not sure. Feel free to post your opinions below. Thanks!  

 

IMG_1781.JPG

IMG_1782.JPG

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Welcome to the forum. Nothing about the look of the coin hints at a “Specimen” to me.

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Thank you for your opinions! I guess it's just a rgular 1921 peace dollar. But the toning does seem rather odd to me...I would like to resubmit this coin to NGC or PCGS in future. Anyway, here is a another picture of the reverse of the coin taken at a different angle with a different light source.

IMG_1785.JPG

Edited by Peace Dollar Fanatic

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Curious to know what NGC graded this Peace dollar at? Care to share?

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The coin in the photo is not a proof. It also does not appear to have been sandblasted or antiqued by anyone. It appears to be an early strike off new dies - which will have little luster if any.

 

There is no such thing as a "specimen" Peace dollar. (Unless you take one to the Drs. office and put it in the little cup...)

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I apologize if there is some sort of a misunderstanding, but I never said that my coin could be a specimen proof. As I mentioned before, the sandblasted and antiqued 1921 peace dollars were made from circulation strikes and only the finishes on the surface were added. I quote directly from Stacks's Bowers' auction description that sold the 1921 Sandblasted with Anqitue Finished Peace Dollar from the Baker estate:

"The 1921 offered here began as a normal high relief circulation strike. For the purpose of the mint director’s comparison, it was pulled from production, and antiqued, creating a unique Specimen." "This particular coin has also been antiqued through a process of applied patination that darkened the light gray silver to a medium charcoal tone. Afterwards, the coin was brushed to remove much of the new patina, leaving it only in the protected recesses, close to the devices and near the rims." 

Multiple coin experts agree that the 1921 sandblasted and antiqued coin from the Baker esate is NOT a proof, but a specimen instead. Quote: 

"These two coins are unique and certainly very special, but they are both "Specimens," not Proofs." "First, the strikes of the two coins, while acceptable, are not nearly as sharp as those seen on the official Proofs."

If it helps any, have included a side by side photo for comparison. On the left is a regular 1921 high relief peace dollar graded Ms63 by NGC. On the right is a coin that I suspect to be the Sandblasted and antiqued coin.

IMG_1814.JPG

I have read in a book that antiquing a coin like a medal was quite common back then because the process helped to emphasize the artist's design and allowed mint afficials and the director to evaulate the coin. I'm assuming that the mint made several sandblasted and antiqued 1921 peace dollar and sent the best one to director Baker for inspection. Presumably, all other pieces (like the 1922 high relief circulation pieces with a mintage of  35,401) were melted down after director Baker agreed with the superintendent of the philadelphia mint that large scale production of the 1922 high relief peace dollar would not be possible. However, I do think it is possible that some of the mint workers bought a coin at face value and took it home as a souvenir, before all trial/ expirimental coins were melted down.

Edited by Peace Dollar Fanatic

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1 hour ago, Peace Dollar Fanatic said:

I apologize if there is some sort of a misunderstanding, but I never said that my coin could be a specimen proof. As I mentioned before, the sandblasted and antiqued 1921 peace dollars were made from circulation strikes and only the finishes on the surface were added. I quote directly from Stacks's Bowers' auction description that sold the 1921 Sandblasted with Anqitue Finished Peace Dollar from the Baker estate:

"The 1921 offered here began as a normal high relief circulation strike. For the purpose of the mint director’s comparison, it was pulled from production, and antiqued, creating a unique Specimen." "This particular coin has also been antiqued through a process of applied patination that darkened the light gray silver to a medium charcoal tone. Afterwards, the coin was brushed to remove much of the new patina, leaving it only in the protected recesses, close to the devices and near the rims." 

Multiple coin experts agree that the 1921 sandblasted and antiqued coin from the Baker esate is NOT a proof, but a specimen instead. Quote: 

"These two coins are unique and certainly very special, but they are both "Specimens," not Proofs." "First, the strikes of the two coins, while acceptable, are not nearly as sharp as those seen on the official Proofs."

If it helps any, have included a side by side photo for comparison. On the left is a regular 1921 high relief peace dollar graded Ms63 by NGC. On the right is a coin that I suspect to be the Sandblasted and antiqued coin.

IMG_1814.JPG

I have read in a book that antiquing a coin like a medal was quite common back then because the process helped to emphasize the artist's design and allowed mint afficials and the director to evaulate the coin. I'm assuming that the mint made several sandblasted and antiqued 1921 peace dollar and sent the best one to director Baker for inspection. Presumably, all other pieces (like the 1922 high relief circulation pieces with a mintage of  35,401) were melted down after director Baker agreed with the superintendent of the philadelphia mint that large scale production of the 1922 high relief peace dollar would not be possible. However, I do think it is possible that some of the mint workers bought a coin at face value and took it home as a souvenir, before all trial/ expirimental coins were melted down.

 In the first sentence of your above post, you used the term “specimen proof”.  Currently, the words “specimen” and “proof” are not typically used in conjunction to represent a particular type of coin production. On the contrary, they are usually used to describe two different types of coins.

From what I see in your pictures, your coin does not appear to be a Proof or a specimen - sand-blasted, or otherwise.

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To the OP:

MarkFeld was a grader for NGC and now works for Heritage...trust what he is telling you. 

2nd hint: RWB literally wrote the book "A Guide Book of Peace Dollars" ...trust what he is telling you. 

 

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Peace Dollar Fanatic, are you suggesting a collector altered the surface of this coin somehow (acid, sandblast, pickled?)  similar to how collectors lacquered their old copper?

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Thank you everone for your opinion. Obviously I have a log way to go when it comes to detecting varieties or rarities. But now that you mention it, e1cnr... Now I'm worried that the coin's surface may have been altered. That would be the only explanation. Personally I have never seen any peace dollar that have natually toned flat gray on both sides equally....Don't 1921 peace dollars usually tone golden brown or yellow brown? What are the chances of a coin toning evenly on both sides in a dark grayish color? When I look under a loop, even the bag marks and the small scratches are toned black within...

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I have a 1921 with a similar finish.  However, I was trying to decide whether or not to have it graded.  I posted it to two different sites, trying to determine if I should get it graded or not.  I know you can't always tell by the photos, but can the experts here tell me if they think the following coin has been cleaned?  I am getting conflicting opinions, and I had no idea MarkFeld and RWB were the literal experts lol.  Any opinions are welcome.

 

To the OP, I do not mean to threadjack, just have a similar coin with a similar finish, so I thought it may pertain to your thread.  

Obverse2.jpg

Reverse2.jpg

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2 hours ago, Morpheus1967 said:

I have a 1921 with a similar finish.  However, I was trying to decide whether or not to have it graded.  I posted it to two different sites, trying to determine if I should get it graded or not.  I know you can't always tell by the photos, but can the experts here tell me if they think the following coin has been cleaned?  I am getting conflicting opinions, and I had no idea MarkFeld and RWB were the literal experts lol.  Any opinions are welcome.

 

To the OP, I do not mean to threadjack, just have a similar coin with a similar finish, so I thought it may pertain to your thread.  

Obverse2.jpg

Reverse2.jpg

My guess - and that’s all it is - is that if your coin were submitted for grading, it would come back AU details, cleaned.

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An interesting thread from ATS

https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/655431/1921-and-22-matte-proof-peace-dollars

in it is a link about PCGS grading some of Mint director Bakers' estate

http://numismatica.com/tag/peace-dollars/

and then USpatterns link to early peace dollar patterns

http://uspatterns.stores.yahoo.net/j2019.html

 

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A couple of generations ago some nice 1921 Peace dollars were ruined by being sandblasted or acid dipped. The perpetrating greedy, fools were attempting to have them called "matte proofs" and sell for big bucks. Wally Breen was aware of this and tried to publicize the deception, but didn't get too far -- maybe because his employer was happily selling abused and fake coins to clients as "investments."

There are means for identifying pieces struck on a medal press  - as are ALL proof coins until about 1970. The illustrated pieces are not proofs. Whether they have been abused in some way would require individual examination.  (PS: Many have been polished for use in jewelry and tourist junk.)

Edited by RWB

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Thank you RWB. I did not know that at all! I might have to send this coin in to NGC again. Do you think possible that this coin's surface was alterned in some way a long time ago and NGC overlooked it?

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Any post striking treatment including sandblasting or antiquing would mean no numeric grade from either grading service IMO

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I would think that as well... But wasn't the 1921 Baker Esate Peace dollar just a regular peace dollar with the finishes added on top of it after the coin was struck? I guess PCGS made an exception. But when I search the serial number on the PCGS website, I get no results... Anyway, I took some coins that were all graded by NGC to my local coin store to get their opinion and the owner did not even look at them because apparently he only deals with coins graded by PCGS. He even told me that he hates coins graded by NGC and even said that "it's a shame that your coins were graded by them." All of my coins were in old fatty NGC holders and he said that some of the holders looked suspicious and said it might be a counterfeit...I thought NGC and PCGS standards were almost the same and respected deeply?

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2 hours ago, Peace Dollar Fanatic said:

I took some coins that were all graded by NGC to my local coin store to get their opinion and the owner did not even look at them because apparently he only deals with coins graded by PCGS. He even told me that he hates coins graded by NGC and even said that "it's a shame that your coins were graded by them." All of my coins were in old fatty NGC holders and he said that some of the holders looked suspicious and said it might be a counterfeit...I thought NGC and PCGS standards were almost the same and respected deeply?

Any so called dealer who does not recognize non PCGS properly graded coins is just that.... a so called dealer. Fourth party verifier CAC doesn't care if its NGC or PCGS certified and will purchase their verified coins sight unseen. Any dealer who refuses NGC graded coins is only working with half of a market share of available coins and therefore is only working with half a brain. Take a look at major auctions and you will see 4 or 5 times as many PCGS coins being offered as NGC coins with similar populations certified. One idea to take away from this is that far more PCGS coins are not wanted in collections. Are these coins overgraded, overpriced or just what is it ? Certainly time will tell.

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On 3/17/2018 at 10:13 AM, Peace Dollar Fanatic said:

I would think that as well... But wasn't the 1921 Baker Esate Peace dollar just a regular peace dollar with the finishes added on top of it after the coin was struck? I guess PCGS made an exception. But when I search the serial number on the PCGS website, I get no results... Anyway, I took some coins that were all graded by NGC to my local coin store to get their opinion and the owner did not even look at them because apparently he only deals with coins graded by PCGS. He even told me that he hates coins graded by NGC and even said that "it's a shame that your coins were graded by them." All of my coins were in old fatty NGC holders and he said that some of the holders looked suspicious and said it might be a counterfeit...I thought NGC and PCGS standards were almost the same and respected deeply?

You found an insufficiently_thoughtful_person.

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I stumbled across this interesting discussion while doing a little research.  It’s a very good distillation all the key elements surrounding Peace Dollar Proof Strikes.

To the person that started the thread, they are very infrequently found.  Reading about diagnostic features can leave one’s head spinning.  There are key elements: does it look like a proof (NGC site is a great proof pics resource), and how full is the strike (hair details). Die polishing lines are very deceptive because unbroken dies were reused to make business strikes.  Also, during the strike process, pressure from the press (a medal press) often varied, because the coin was experimental with the high relief features, and planchette and die failures were common in the beginning according to the mint.

Attached pic is a coin recently purchased. It is not a proof, but an interesting strike. It has not been cleaned; I have access to a metallurgical microscope, so I can look a metal flow details from the strike process. This coin has a halo, meaning it was struck with such great pressure, there is a central indentation.  Also, there is an obverse die crack between 6 & 7 o’clock running from the rim to the neck line of the bust (this die was breaking). However, with all that said, there is a rather obvious straightness of the motto device.  The coin has all the swirling die polishing lines on the obverse portrait device and in the fields, as described by VAM as a proof die.

This image was borrowed from the auction house.  It does not really show Any of the coins great detains, or the really nice unique finish. BTW: unique is usually a bad indication that someone is faking a finish, hiding a cleaning, etc., but with the correct knowledge and equipment this can be ruled out.

I’ve been intrigued by these coins for a number of years, done tons of research. This coin is not a proof, rather an interesting variation of a strike. Maybe the mint person had some extra time on hand and was experimenting.  Who knows. Look at the Heritage auction archives and look at the proof auction descriptions in the coin write up.  There is little consistency in the description of a “Proof” Peace Dollar or what makes a coin a Proof.

Keep looking for a Proof, it’s a very fun endeavor!AEC09B85-10C1-4EAE-857A-A49859CE1B3C.jpeg.f8804f9749889a0d8c0094dff6cf52a6.jpeg308C14D4-84F5-48B3-A83B-5DE6103A7FB8.jpeg.588975d49483acdcb275a08e1bce9f33.jpeg

 

 

Edited by rjbeck
Punctuation

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If you pick up a copy of A Guide Book for Peace Dollars you will find your questions answered and misconceptions corrected.

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I see the matte or subdued finish the OP is noting on his coin. It looks like its drawn in pencil shade. If the coin was raw I would just think it was circulation finish as some in EF have have color. But the fact that it is in a 62 makes it an interesting piece. Do you have more pics next to other 21s to better gauge how much lighting and. Couple obverse ones like the side by side reverse you did?

Edited by mumu

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Thank you for everyone's input. I greatly appreciate it! I took the coin to a coin store out of town and the guy said that although he is not an expert on peace dollars, there is no way that my coin's surface was due to natural toning. I decided to send the coin to NGC for an appearence review. So I'll probably end up buying the cheapest membership and sending it off next week. I guess we'll know the answer in less than 3 weeks. Also, I do have the latest Guide Book for Peace Dollars and really enjoyed reading it! The book does make a brief note of the 1921 and 1922 sandblasted and antiqued peace dollar and says "Other 1921 and 1922 High Relief examples of sandblasting and antiquing might exist." 

 

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On ‎3‎/‎17‎/‎2018 at 9:46 AM, numisport said:

Any post striking treatment including sandblasting or antiquing would mean no numeric grade from any grading service

Is the way it should be. Don't be fooled by marketing attempts. You do have a very attractive example of a one year type coin and is also one of the most favorite coins I own !

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On ‎3‎/‎17‎/‎2018 at 6:46 AM, numisport said:

Any post striking treatment including sandblasting or antiquing would mean no numeric grade from either grading service IMO

Wouldn't either of these kill all cartwheel luster?

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