The Fall and Decline of “Crust”

(Excerpt from Doug Winter’s “Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint”)

I am a fan of original surfaces on gold coins.  To my eyes, there is nothing more attractive than a Charlotte piece with layers of old “crust.”  (I define “crust” as original toning over a heavy layer of natural “skin” on a coin’s surface which develops over the course of time).  To me, originality provides great eye appeal.  Unfortunately, the grading services have unwittingly contributed to the destruction of a great number of gold coins by penalizing them for originality.  It is my experience that if you submit a “crusty,” original AU-50 coin, it is invariably graded EF-45.  But, if you take the same coin, scrub off the crust and make it bright, it will grade AU-50 to AU-55.  Ironically, the financial incentive for submitters is to destroy their coins in order to maximize their value.  This is especially true in a market such as Charlotte gold where the difference between an EF-45 and an AU-50 can be thousands of dollars.  As time passes, I think the number of truly original Charlotte coins will continue to shrink.  The few remaining coins with original surfaces will invariably trade for strong premiums among knowledgeable buyers and unwitting new collectors and investors will get stuck with the overgraded, unnaturally bright dregs.

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