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Graded vs Ungraded Gold


Organics

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Hello and Happy New Year to all 🙏

As there are many experts in this field on TSF, I have a question about graded vs ungraded coins and possibly grading myself. 
I got into buying gold and silver as a savings mechanism and to start a nest egg for my children when I’m gone. So always bought as close to spot as possible. However over the past year I have been lured into buying more collectible pieces and paying a slightly higher premium. They are beautiful pieces and only make a very small part of my stack. Now I’m at the point where I’m thinking I like the thought of having a few graded coins to keep my stack diversified, but I’m truly struggling with the premiums for them, which is what is holding me back. On the flip side I know there’s a market for them and if I do need to sell a piece here and there then it shouldn’t be too hard……should it? I’m also tempted by trying to get some gold graded but I hear it’s a risk if you don’t get the 70 grade. So I’d like your opinions on this. 
 

Is it worth trying to get my own coins graded 

Should I save myself the hassle and pay the premium for a 70 grade (I wouldn’t want any less) 

What are the best graded coins to buy and are they worth the upfront investment 

should I even bother with graded at all and stick with bullion as I have done. 

Any other thoughts or suggestions welcome. 

Thank you in Advance 🙏

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I keep a portion of my stack as graded for diversity.

Moderns I prefer top-pop and buy pre-graded, though I have some PF69's I have picked up for raw price, or even less on a couple of occasions

Older stuff I am less worried about grade, for example I would buy a rare Victoria in a low AU grade. 

I have found the prices for graded top-pop special reverse are fairly static but are as low compared to bullion at the moment as they have been for a while so a good time to buy those.  Older graded stuff is doing very very well at the moment, as are high grade Gillicks and Canada sovereigns, especially Edwards.  I would like to pick up some more Maklouf graded coins but they are also fetching a very good premium and those I have bid on have gone for more than I would be willing to pay.

Grading yourself is a lottery, while new coins should be always getting 70's with RM's QC that is not a given and the price differential on a 69 to a 70 means you will likely not get your money back if you achieve a 69.  Older coins though, it will depend entirely on the coin.  I have a couple of coins away for grading I only expect to get AU grades, but one is a mint error coin and the other a very rare date so I decided they were worth the cost as I will be looking to consign them both.  I also have maybe a dozen high grade shield sovereigns I will likely grade at some point, but until I want to sell them I will keep them raw as I enjoy them better that way.  When I decide to liquidate though grading them will mean I get much better returns.

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That's a good question and I will follow with interest as in a similar boat myself.

Mostly buy bullion with as low premiums as possible for stacking. Have a few proof higher denominations / sets when they have fallen into the low premium bracket as don't seem as popular as your basic sovs etc.

Grading seems a bit of a mystery value wise to me! Get the PF70's are the top grade but never sure on whether the extra premiums are worth it over 69's. As people seem to major on 70's then that should be the way to go I guess.

Single figure premiums seem standard on your bullion gold coins but premiums for graded coins seem very variable. 

Will look to add a few but working out if the prices represent value seems a bit of a minefield and needs further research.

Good luck with your collection

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1 hour ago, Orpster said:

I keep a portion of my stack as graded for diversity.

Moderns I prefer top-pop and buy pre-graded, though I have some PF69's I have picked up for raw price, or even less on a couple of occasions

Older stuff I am less worried about grade, for example I would buy a rare Victoria in a low AU grade. 

I have found the prices for graded top-pop special reverse are fairly static but are as low compared to bullion at the moment as they have been for a while so a good time to buy those.  Older graded stuff is doing very very well at the moment, as are high grade Gillicks and Canada sovereigns, especially Edwards.  I would like to pick up some more Maklouf graded coins but they are also fetching a very good premium and those I have bid on have gone for more than I would be willing to pay.

Grading yourself is a lottery, while new coins should be always getting 70's with RM's QC that is not a given and the price differential on a 69 to a 70 means you will likely not get your money back if you achieve a 69.  Older coins though, it will depend entirely on the coin.  I have a couple of coins away for grading I only expect to get AU grades, but one is a mint error coin and the other a very rare date so I decided they were worth the cost as I will be looking to consign them both.  I also have maybe a dozen high grade shield sovereigns I will likely grade at some point, but until I want to sell them I will keep them raw as I enjoy them better that way.  When I decide to liquidate though grading them will mean I get much better returns.

Thank you for taking the time to respond and in detail. Makes complete sense. I still think I need to do a bit more research to convince myself 🙏

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7 minutes ago, cjbcomm said:

That's a good question and I will follow with interest as in a similar boat myself.

Mostly buy bullion with as low premiums as possible for stacking. Have a few proof higher denominations / sets when they have fallen into the low premium bracket as don't seem as popular as your basic sovs etc.

Grading seems a bit of a mystery value wise to me! Get the PF70's are the top grade but never sure on whether the extra premiums are worth it over 69's. As people seem to major on 70's then that should be the way to go I guess.

Single figure premiums seem standard on your bullion gold coins but premiums for graded coins seem very variable. 

Will look to add a few but working out if the prices represent value seems a bit of a minefield and needs further research.

Good luck with your collection

Yes. It does seem that we’re thinking alike, as I guess a lot of others are. Just thought I’d ask as a recent auction showed some very strong results for graded coins

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Sticking with bullion keeps things simple, which has plenty to recommend it.

Another factor to consider is whether you prefer to keep your coins raw (and/or in original packaging if they are proof or brilliant uncirculated) or house them in slabs. If you're happy owning them in slabs then having a few graded coins for diversity, as @Orpster says above, makes sense.  But it's a subtly different market and you'll need to think about your exit strategy and be careful not to overpay on the way in (or be prepared to hold for quite a while).

Acquire as much knowledge as you can about which coins are likely to be in demand in the future, and then balance that with how much you are comfortable to invest.  For example, there have been a lot of very nice Royal Mint gold coins released in the last two years, some of these will continue to do better than others in my opinion, but there are still some value propositions out there at today's prices I think.

I imagine that it's easy to get into quite deep waters fairly quickly, so go in with your eyes open.  See my first sentence above!

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27 minutes ago, Stuntman said:

Sticking with bullion keeps things simple, which has plenty to recommend it.

Another factor to consider is whether you prefer to keep your coins raw (and/or in original packaging if they are proof or brilliant uncirculated) or house them in slabs. If you're happy owning them in slabs then having a few graded coins for diversity, as @Orpster says above, makes sense.  But it's a subtly different market and you'll need to think about your exit strategy and be careful not to overpay on the way in (or be prepared to hold for quite a while).

Acquire as much knowledge as you can about which coins are likely to be in demand in the future, and then balance that with how much you are comfortable to invest.  For example, there have been a lot of very nice Royal Mint gold coins released in the last two years, some of these will continue to do better than others in my opinion, but there are still some value propositions out there at today's prices I think.

I imagine that it's easy to get into quite deep waters fairly quickly, so go in with your eyes open.  See my first sentence above!

Some sound advise there for sure. 

I've always been a believer in investing in what you know and avoiding what you don't! 

Bullion follows this mantra as you take your % over spot you're happy with and invest.

Too many variables in slabbed coins without having very good knowledge and experience (which I don't have 😅). 

Some lower mintage gold and silver coins with good designs are always nice to hold onto as well. 

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If you buy coins that you like, then you will have pleasure of ownership even if they may not give you an outstanding financial return.
Case in point: I have some brilliant uncirculated five-sovereign pieces (bought new on release, ungraded, in their original RM packaging).  If these do well in future years, it's a bonus.  But I'll probably keep them all for a very long time and only sell if I really needed to.  One of them in particular would probably be the very last gold coin I would part with!

Edited by Stuntman
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Depends on the type of gold you're talking about

Modern bullion NO (a lot of American stackers like to grade bullion coins, but I don't think it's necessary)

Modern proof is PF70 or scrap really, so you'd better get them graded and keep PF70 only. Sometimes PF69 are acceptible but anything below that grade would be better staying raw.

Old circulating gold will depend. A common type sovereign isn't worth the grade, but grading will help if it's a high MS. If it's a shield and gets MS62 or above you'll get £1500 or above for an otherwise £400 coin. 

Some coins appear UNC with bright lustre but get Details grade because of some scratches or hairline. This is where grading comes handy.

Old proof—grade them, no question asked

If we do the right thing this time, we might have to do the right thing again next time.

 

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My 2 cents:

There are broadly 4 different but complimentary markets:

1) Bullion
2) Semi-numismatic
3) Numismatic
4) Accounting (PF70)

Each one have their own valuation methods. Bullion and semi-numismatics are closely correlated with gold spot price. The valuation of numismatic and accounting items may diverge significantly from spot price trends

You have reasons why you buy bullion and semi-numismatics. You should have equally good reasons for buying numismatic and accounting items, reasons which are not necessarily the same as your reasons for buying bullion

Mind is primary and mass-energy is derivative

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2 hours ago, Stuntman said:

Sticking with bullion keeps things simple, which has plenty to recommend it.

Another factor to consider is whether you prefer to keep your coins raw (and/or in original packaging if they are proof or brilliant uncirculated) or house them in slabs. If you're happy owning them in slabs then having a few graded coins for diversity, as @Orpster says above, makes sense.  But it's a subtly different market and you'll need to think about your exit strategy and be careful not to overpay on the way in (or be prepared to hold for quite a while).

Acquire as much knowledge as you can about which coins are likely to be in demand in the future, and then balance that with how much you are comfortable to invest.  For example, there have been a lot of very nice Royal Mint gold coins released in the last two years, some of these will continue to do better than others in my opinion, but there are still some value propositions out there at today's prices I think.

I imagine that it's easy to get into quite deep waters fairly quickly, so go in with your eyes open.  See my first sentence above!

Thank you for your response. I’m based in Portugal, so my exit strategy for graded coins is very limited. Especially high value ones. So I’d be selling on the TSF, Ebay or auctions. The last two I’d rather miss due to the fees involved. I started with 1oz bullion gold because of the lower premiums but have started to pick some proof coins for the numismatic value too. Thinking about it now and reading the responses, if something does happen to me, I don’t want my family to have to deal with trying to find the best price for real collectors/graded coins. Bullion/semi-numismatic is a relatively easy sell. I may dip my toe in carefully as you say, just for the fun of owning a 70 graded coin. Maybe a personal special date or something like that 🙏🙏🙏

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1 hour ago, SeverinDigsSovereigns said:

Depends on the type of gold you're talking about

Modern bullion NO (a lot of American stackers like to grade bullion coins, but I don't think it's necessary)

Modern proof is PF70 or scrap really, so you'd better get them graded and keep PF70 only. Sometimes PF69 are acceptible but anything below that grade would be better staying raw.

Old circulating gold will depend. A common type sovereign isn't worth the grade, but grading will help if it's a high MS. If it's a shield and gets MS62 or above you'll get £1500 or above for an otherwise £400 coin. 

Some coins appear UNC with bright lustre but get Details grade because of some scratches or hairline. This is where grading comes handy.

Old proof—grade them, no question asked

Thanks for the response 

“Modern bullion NO (a lot of American stackers like to grade bullion coins, but I don't think it's necessary)”

Completely agree and never understood why they do that

“Modern proof is PF70 or scrap really, so you'd better get them graded and keep PF70 only. Sometimes PF69 are acceptible but anything below that grade would be better staying raw”.

The question is what modern proof’s will be worth grading 🤷‍♂️, and would be disappointed if it didn’t come back as 70 😞

“Old circulating gold will depend. A common type sovereign isn't worth the grade, but grading will help if it's a high MS. If it's a shield and gets MS62 or above you'll get £1500 or above for an otherwise £400 coin.”

How far back would I need to go? I do have quite a lot of older shield sovereigns, but have no clue what they’d grade at

“Some coins appear UNC with bright lustre but get Details grade because of some scratches or hairline. This is where grading comes handy” 

This is why I think I’ve never had anything graded, as to my untrained eye they look perfect, but to a professional it’s not. Not a gambling person, so never wanted to take the chance.

“Old proof—grade them, no question asked”. Thank you 🙏 

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1 hour ago, HonestMoneyGoldSilver said:

My 2 cents:

There are broadly 4 different but complimentary markets:

1) Bullion
2) Semi-numismatic
3) Numismatic
4) Accounting (PF70)

Each one have their own valuation methods. Bullion and semi-numismatics are closely correlated with gold spot price. The valuation of numismatic and accounting items may diverge significantly from spot price trends

You have reasons why you buy bullion and semi-numismatics. You should have equally good reasons for buying numismatic and accounting items, reasons which are not necessarily the same as your reasons for buying bullion

Thank you for your response. 
 

I’ve typically been buying numbers 1 and 2, but over the last year I’ve gone for a few number 3’s. Now that’s leading to the interest in number 4. However you’re 100% right when you say “why”, and that’s what I need to sit back and ask myself 🙏

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5 hours ago, Organics said:

Thanks for the response 

“Modern bullion NO (a lot of American stackers like to grade bullion coins, but I don't think it's necessary)”

Completely agree and never understood why they do that

“Modern proof is PF70 or scrap really, so you'd better get them graded and keep PF70 only. Sometimes PF69 are acceptible but anything below that grade would be better staying raw”.

The question is what modern proof’s will be worth grading 🤷‍♂️, and would be disappointed if it didn’t come back as 70 😞

“Old circulating gold will depend. A common type sovereign isn't worth the grade, but grading will help if it's a high MS. If it's a shield and gets MS62 or above you'll get £1500 or above for an otherwise £400 coin.”

How far back would I need to go? I do have quite a lot of older shield sovereigns, but have no clue what they’d grade at

“Some coins appear UNC with bright lustre but get Details grade because of some scratches or hairline. This is where grading comes handy” 

This is why I think I’ve never had anything graded, as to my untrained eye they look perfect, but to a professional it’s not. Not a gambling person, so never wanted to take the chance.

“Old proof—grade them, no question asked”. Thank you 🙏 

Well, modern proofs move in a mysterious way. My take is to buy whatever you like and pray they get 70. That way you mught have a distant change of getting your money back before spot hits RRP. Some modern proofs randomly become popular, like the kew gardens and Diana memorial £5, while others jumped on covid stimuli.

Maybe go to 1914 pr before for old circulation gold. Back then gold was actually circulated, and it's generally harder to find coins from that period with strong uncirculated details and lustre. The older the harder. A common date Edward VII sovereign, for example, could land you £100 above spot if it's MS62 or 63. Gillicks in MS66 sell for around £1500 these days. I personally don't buy into that, but it's a buyers' market so you never know. Sometimes MS65 and 66 aren't that different, but people will buy the slabs not the coins...

In terms of shields, you're in the money if they get MS62 or above. You'll need to make your own judgement on whether they're worth sending off. You do so by looking at the lustre—the light when you hold the coin at different angles. If this "lustre" is coherent and covers most of the obverse field, the coin is uncirculated and will probably get MS61 at least; on the other hand, if the lustre exists only in the legend bit it's AU58 or below, unless you have very good portrait and they'll give MS60. I've seen MS61 shields with AU58 lustre and MS63-ish portrait. Personally I wouldn't touch those, as they're over graded in my opinion. Lustre is key to good eye appeal, and details come second (forget about hair/lions' eyes etc)

The hairline/cleaned bit is more difficult because hairlines don't necessarily give details grade. In the past collectors kept coins in velvet/silk trays that really scratched tge coins. Also, it's much more straight forward for gold coins than silver and copper because that's where all the chemistry comes in. Can't do much harm to grade them though.

 

If we do the right thing this time, we might have to do the right thing again next time.

 

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6 hours ago, Organics said:

Thank you for your response. I’m based in Portugal, so my exit strategy for graded coins is very limited. Especially high value ones. So I’d be selling on the TSF, Ebay or auctions. The last two I’d rather miss due to the fees involved. I started with 1oz bullion gold because of the lower premiums but have started to pick some proof coins for the numismatic value too. Thinking about it now and reading the responses, if something does happen to me, I don’t want my family to have to deal with trying to find the best price for real collectors/graded coins. Bullion/semi-numismatic is a relatively easy sell. I may dip my toe in carefully as you say, just for the fun of owning a 70 graded coin. Maybe a personal special date or something like that 🙏🙏🙏

If you're in Portugal I think you can offload most things to other EU countries problem-free, and you can buy and sell all sovereigns 1838 onwards because they're tax free.

If we do the right thing this time, we might have to do the right thing again next time.

 

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I was wondering how much grading actually costs? I would be cautious about how much extra I'd spend on a coin. Logically it seems that once you've paid for the bullion, the premium, the delivery, then grading and more delivery (again) it would eat into the overall cost you've paid for a coin and you would need to be sure you'll get a decent enough return in the long run to cover all the extra costs.

I was reading on Chards about grading a few days ago and noted their dislike about trying to leverage coins prices above their actual value through grading. They said that grading should only add a very small amount to the overall value, and that when they receive slabbed coins that they remove them from those horrible plastic cases. I can see where they're coming from in that regard. I guess it's got to be done for the right reasons.

One excerpt stood out to me:

"we find companies are charging above the odds. For example, we became privy to a 2018 gold Britannia for sale the other day roughly £1500 in a slab. The selling price of this coin is about £950!! Therefore, that is about £550 for a piece of acrylic plastic with some fancy words and "independent authentication". Unreal I hear you say but 100% true."

Article in full: https://www.chards.co.uk/guides/coin-grading-uk-cgs-pcgs-ngc-uk-and-us/79

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7 hours ago, SeverinDigsSovereigns said:

If you're in Portugal I think you can offload most things to other EU countries problem-free, and you can buy and sell all sovereigns 1838 onwards because they're tax free.

Thank you for getting back to me. I didn’t know that Sovereigns are tax free post 1838 👍. All my shields are pre 1914, except the 2002 ones I have.  So I’m going to dig them out and check the lustre’s on them. I know I have an older £5 sovereign but can’t remember the date. I do know that when I first bought it I took it to a dealer here. The two guys in there were arguing with each other as one thought it was a proof and the other didn’t. I still don’t know lol 😂. You’ve certainly given me a lot of food for thought, as many of the other responses have 🙏🙏🙏

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18 minutes ago, Kitalon said:

I was wondering how much grading actually costs? I would be cautious about how much extra I'd spend on a coin. Logically it seems that once you've paid for the bullion, the premium, the delivery, then grading and more delivery (again) it would eat into the overall cost you've paid for a coin and you would need to be sure you'll get a decent enough return in the long run to cover all the extra costs.

I was reading on Chards about grading a few days ago and noted their dislike about trying to leverage coins prices above their actual value through grading. They said that grading should only add a very small amount to the overall value, and that when they receive slabbed coins that they remove them from those horrible plastic cases. I can see where they're coming from in that regard. I guess it's got to be done for the right reasons.

One excerpt stood out to me:

"we find companies are charging above the odds. For example, we became privy to a 2018 gold Britannia for sale the other day roughly £1500 in a slab. The selling price of this coin is about £950!! Therefore, that is about £550 for a piece of acrylic plastic with some fancy words and "independent authentication". Unreal I hear you say but 100% true."

Article in full: https://www.chards.co.uk/guides/coin-grading-uk-cgs-pcgs-ngc-uk-and-us/79

Thank you for your response. Absolutely 👍. All the costs do certainly add up, and then you run the risk of not getting the grade you want. That’s why I’m leaning towards buying already PF70 graded and holding out for a good deal. As Chards said, there shouldn’t be too much of a premium on realistically priced coins. However I still feel that in years to come, some of the more modern coins which have the top grading may be worth quite a bit more. 

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I would be inclined to agree that if a PF70 means a lot to you then buy one/some pre-graded, rather than play the grading lottery and avoid potential disappointment.

It would be wise to do thorough research before committing to grading coins. For example here's a random extract from my book which shows the approximate values of differently graded coins - Fine, Very Fine, Extra Fine or Uncirculated (the book also serves as a guide about which coins/years to look out for.)

Screenshot_20240101-1032102.thumb.png.c52565ba16abec6afed5e1765621a1a7.png

I'd also be careful about slabbing up newer coins, grading can be done at any point if desired. I've seen a lovely set split up and slabbed, yes all the coins were graded at PF70 but it appeared to depreciate in value by not having the original display box and certificate of authenticity and didn't sell well at the time.

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59 minutes ago, Kitalon said:

I was wondering how much grading actually costs? I would be cautious about how much extra I'd spend on a coin. Logically it seems that once you've paid for the bullion, the premium, the delivery, then grading and more delivery (again) it would eat into the overall cost you've paid for a coin and you would need to be sure you'll get a decent enough return in the long run to cover all the extra costs.

I was reading on Chards about grading a few days ago and noted their dislike about trying to leverage coins prices above their actual value through grading. They said that grading should only add a very small amount to the overall value, and that when they receive slabbed coins that they remove them from those horrible plastic cases. I can see where they're coming from in that regard. I guess it's got to be done for the right reasons.

One excerpt stood out to me:

"we find companies are charging above the odds. For example, we became privy to a 2018 gold Britannia for sale the other day roughly £1500 in a slab. The selling price of this coin is about £950!! Therefore, that is about £550 for a piece of acrylic plastic with some fancy words and "independent authentication". Unreal I hear you say but 100% true."

Article in full: https://www.chards.co.uk/guides/coin-grading-uk-cgs-pcgs-ngc-uk-and-us/79

Think you will find that in 99.9% of cases Chards will be buying any slabbed coins at a price only you or me can dream of …. like any dealer, just try selling one to them! Way to go is probably to buy lower graded slabbed coins and then break them free for your collection😮🤔🤔

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4 hours ago, Petra said:

Think you will find that in 99.9% of cases Chards will be buying any slabbed coins at a price only you or me can dream of …. like any dealer, just try selling one to them! Way to go is probably to buy lower graded slabbed coins and then break them free for your collection😮🤔🤔

Or sell on eBay for £100,000 "House Clearance Special Discount"

If we do the right thing this time, we might have to do the right thing again next time.

 

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5 hours ago, Organics said:

Thank you for getting back to me. I didn’t know that Sovereigns are tax free post 1838 👍. All my shields are pre 1914, except the 2002 ones I have.  So I’m going to dig them out and check the lustre’s on them. I know I have an older £5 sovereign but can’t remember the date. I do know that when I first bought it I took it to a dealer here. The two guys in there were arguing with each other as one thought it was a proof and the other didn’t. I still don’t know lol 😂. You’ve certainly given me a lot of food for thought, as many of the other responses have 🙏🙏🙏

This is a list of tax free gold in UK. Because these were inherited from the EU era I'd imagine the same coins are also tax free where you live and tax free when shifted around UK and all EU countries. But you do need to check on your government website(s) because there may be extra procedures to follow when clearing customs

An old £5 that looks like proof... sounds like the 1887. Almost all 1887 £5 are proof like. Old coins were proof like for many reasons. As far as I know, they can be

-Rejected proof thrown into circulation (back in the days they actually had proper quality control)

-Used proof dies reused

-Proof-like by design

-Highly polished metal blanks

-Highly polished dies because they were previously worn (in this case die polish lines are common)

There may be more to that but well beyond my expertise

VAT_Notice_701-21A_coins_list.ods

If we do the right thing this time, we might have to do the right thing again next time.

 

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8 hours ago, Kitalon said:

I would be inclined to agree that if a PF70 means a lot to you then buy one/some pre-graded, rather than play the grading lottery and avoid potential disappointment.

It would be wise to do thorough research before committing to grading coins. For example here's a random extract from my book which shows the approximate values of differently graded coins - Fine, Very Fine, Extra Fine or Uncirculated (the book also serves as a guide about which coins/years to look out for.)

Screenshot_20240101-1032102.thumb.png.c52565ba16abec6afed5e1765621a1a7.png

I'd also be careful about slabbing up newer coins, grading can be done at any point if desired. I've seen a lovely set split up and slabbed, yes all the coins were graded at PF70 but it appeared to depreciate in value by not having the original display box and certificate of authenticity and didn't sell well at the time.

Thank you 🙏. I think I’ll grab a copy of that book for myself. I saw a similar set recently where the seller had to keep reducing the price, and finally withdrew them. I need to do a lot more research before committing 👍

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3 hours ago, SeverinDigsSovereigns said:

This is a list of tax free gold in UK. Because these were inherited from the EU era I'd imagine the same coins are also tax free where you live and tax free when shifted around UK and all EU countries. But you do need to check on your government website(s) because there may be extra procedures to follow when clearing customs

An old £5 that looks like proof... sounds like the 1887. Almost all 1887 £5 are proof like. Old coins were proof like for many reasons. As far as I know, they can be

-Rejected proof thrown into circulation (back in the days they actually had proper quality control)

-Used proof dies reused

-Proof-like by design

-Highly polished metal blanks

-Highly polished dies because they were previously worn (in this case die polish lines are common)

There may be more to that but well beyond my expertise

VAT_Notice_701-21A_coins_list.ods 15.61 kB · 0 downloads

I’ll double check the £5 and let you know. Thank you for coins list. The CGT aspect is certainly an attractive feature 🙏

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