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Hi all -- I've been thinking about the prospect of automated coin grading. Slabbed coins from PCGS and NGC seem overly expensive, and people here have been reporting problems with them (e.g. the recent red spots thread). Would you personally prefer an automated solution, if it was cheaper? By automated, I mean computerized, using machine vision and perhaps various multispectral scans of the coin beyond human vision. I know a bit about machine vision, and an automated solution to coin grading seems inevitable. I think it would be a somewhat easy task for machine vision experts, relative to the kinds of problems they solve currently, like understanding what's in an arbitrary photograph (faces, people, sky, balls, grass, cars, etc.). Coin grading would be a smaller, more delimited problem for them – the software would always know what coin it was grading and what it's supposed to look like at various levels of quality. It wouldn't have to worry about arbitrary objects in an image. I'd be all for it if it cost a couple of dollars. It would also be nice if a service offered a more careful slabbing process, using a nitrogen atmosphere or vacuum sealing.
Another coin I sent off in the same batch as my other Britannia coins was this 1998. 1998 is the first year of issue for the Britannia silver coins in the business strike or "mint state" version, a year after the introduction of the proof version in 1997. This is not one of the rarer dates in terms of mintages, but it is desirable as a first year of issue in a series. I bought it on eBay for a decent price, but had no idea what the results would be for a cross grade. As with the other coins in the submission, this coin was sent in for the modern tier NCS/NGC conservation and grading combination. This costs $28 as of this submission, but with the shipping cost, insurance, submission fee, this coin cost a little over $30 to grade. This is not a true "crossover" as it is not a PCGS slab, but NGC will remove a coin from an ICG slab if the waiver is signed with the submission. This coin, as you can see from the photos, came back an MS 68 in an NGC holder. the 1998 does have a population of 3 in MS 70 on the NGC census and a fair few in MS 69. I believe the MS 68 is a result of a stain near the queen's effigy in the field near the back of her head. It looks like a drop of water hit the coin, evaporated, and left a ring like you would see on a coffee table. It is very small and not that noticeable, but it could of course knock a coin down a grade. One thing to note about this, the ICG slab designated this coin as DCAM for deep cameo. This is not one of the coins that is recognized as having cameo with NGC because the fields are matte and the design is reflective. I've noticed on modern reverse proofs they also don't get a cameo designation. As with the other coins the original label was sent back to be in the flip used during the grading process, but unlike the other ones this flip had two NGC stickers on it. It isn't easy to see, but beneath the second sticker there is a SMS on the original label that NGC used. SMS is an acronym for Special Mint Strike that is usually given to US coins that aren't proof coins, aren't business strike coins, but have a nice matte finish on them like this coin. Again, this doesn't add any value to the coin, but it was interesting to see the process that NGC first assigned the wrong designation - probably because of the ICG label showing the DCAM designation - and then at some point a grader or conservationist corrected it. Well SIlver Forum, what do you think about this coin, is it a grading success or failure?