book cover Introduction
Preface
Glossary
The Grading Process
How To Grade Mint State Coins
Surface Preservation
Strike
Lustre
Eye-Appeal

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Determining Grade
Is It Proof Or Business Strike?
Prooflike Coins
Grading Other Series
Why Won't They Grade My Coin?
High End vs. Low End; The Bust-Out Game
Computer Grading
Conclusion
About the Author

Lustre

During the minting process, a planchet becomes a coin once it has been struck between two dies. The striking takes place under extreme pressure. It is this pressure which is responsible for the phenomenon known as mint lustre. Mint lustre, which is a combination of cartwheel, sheen, brilliance and contrast, is defined simply as the way in which the surface of a coin reflects light.

When you grade the lustre of a coin, you basically grade the intensity, beauty and integrity of that coin's ability to reflect light, within the bounds of the lustre characteristics of that issue. For example, a matte proof gold piece has very little, if any, brilliance, cartwheel or contrast. Therefore, the lustre of a matte proof Saint Gaudens $20 must be evaluated purely on the basis of original mint sheen. Such an evaluation will have to be made through experience. Only by looking at several matte proof gold pieces can a neophyte begin to understand the difference between a natural matte sheen, and a cleaned or "dipped out" surface.

For the purpose of this discussion, let us take a common date silver dollar, for example, an 1885-0. First, we examine the highest points, accented in red, as illustrated here:

Is the lustre as pronounced at the very highest points as it is in the fields? If not, the coin has some "friction" as discussed in the chapter entitled "The Grading Process - Mint State or Almost Uncirculated." There is no visual impact of metal displacement (otherwise the coin would be considered AU), but there is often some disturbance of lustre. The degree of this disturbance will affect your lustre grade.

Next, examine the fields of the coin. Is the lustre absolutely booming, or is it pretty good, just so-so, or plain dull? Don't take the hairlines into account, since you've already accounted for them as part of your surface preservation grade.

However, if the coin has ever been cleaned, retoned, or dipped too often, the lustre will be reduced to some degree. And, of course, some coins are made better than others.

if the coin has virtually no lustre, this must be mentioned in the description (i.e. MS-60, dull; or MS-63, but lacklustre from prolonged immersion in seawater). If any areas on the coin are polished or harshly cleaned, this too must be mentioned in the description.

Now, give the coin a grade of I to 5 (fractions are okay) based on its lustre. Make this evaluation with your own experience from looking at other coins of that issue (i.e. type, date and mint mark), while keeping the criteria outlined in this chapter, in mind. The more experience you have had, the more meaningful your grade will be. Even if you have no idea what grade to assign, take a guess. Eventually, your guesses will become closer and closer to 100% accurate.

For your further study, here is a list of the lustre characteristics of the various issues of Morgan dollars:

LUSTRE

1878 8 TF - Frosty surfaces, good lustre, occasionally found with one side prooflike.1891 P - Frosty surfaces, poor lustre. Seldom seen P-L.
1878 7/8 TF - Frosty surfaces, good lustre, scarce in prooflike.1891 O - Frosty surfaces, poor lustre. Quite rare in P-L.
1878 7 TF - Full frosty surfaces, good lustre. Prooflikes are available.1891 S - Semi-prooflike surfaces, excellent lustre. P-Ls available.
1878 7TF RB - Semi-prooflike surfaces, excellent lustre. Seldom found fully prooflike.1891 CC - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Prooflikes somewhat elusive.
1878 S - Frosty or semi-prooflike surfaces, excellent lustre. Often found fully prooflike, but heavily bag-marked.1892 P - Frosty surfaces, poor to good lustre. Full P-Ls fairly rare. Semi-P-Ls abundant.
1878 CC - Frosty surfaces, good lustre, frequently seen prooflike.1892 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Extremely rare in prooflike.
1879 P - Frosty surfaces, good lustre, prooflikes not scarce.1892 S - Semi-prooflike surfaces, excellent lustre. P-Ls not rare for issue, but whole issue is rare in Mint State.
1879 O - Frosty surfaces, excellent lustre, some prooflikes.1892 CC - Frosty surfaces, excellent lustre. Quite scarce in true P-L. Semi-P-Ls common.
1879 S - Semi-prooflike surfaces, excellent lustre. Fairly scarce with deep reflective fields.1893 P - Frosty surfaces, excellent lustre. Extremely rare in P-L, particularly top-end condition.
1879 CC - Variable. Frosty or semi-prooflike surfaces, poor to good lustre. Heavily marked.1893 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Very rare with fully P-L surfaces.
1880 P - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Prooflikes infrequent.1893 S - Semi-prooflike surfaces, excellent lustre. Fully P-L surfaces virtually unknown on Mint State examples.
1880 O - Frosty surfaces, excellent lustre. Very scarce in prooflike.1893 CC - Frosty surfaces, excellent lustre. P-Ls quite scarce, even more so fully struck.
1880 S - Semi-prooflike surfaces, excellent lustre, readily available in prooflike.1894 P - Frosty surfaces, poor lustre. Extremely rare in P-L.
1880 CC - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Scarce in P-L.1894 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Very rare in P-L, especially nice examples.
1881 P - Frosty surfaces, excellent lustre. Prooflikes are available, but not typically deep.1894 S - Frosty or semi-prooflike surfaces, excellent lustre. Not particularly scarce in P-L.
1881 O - Frosty or semi-prooflike surfaces, good lustre, heavily marked and scarce with deep mirror surfaces.1895 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Quite rare in P-L, but sharply struck when found.
1881 S - Semi-prooflike surfaces, excellent lustre. Often seen prooflike, but cameo contrast elusive.1895 S - Frosty surfaces, excellent lustre. True P-Ls elusive, though semi-P-Ls are around.
1881 CC - Frosty or semi-P-L surfaces, good to excellent lustre. Prooflikes are readily available.1896 P - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Relatively common in P-L.
1882 P - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Fairly scarce in P-L.1896 O - Frosty surfaces, poor lustre. Extremely rare in full P-L.
1882 O - Frosty or semi-P-L surfaces. Good lustre. P-Ls often heavily marked.1896 S - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Very scarce in P-L.
1882 S - Semi-P-L surfaces, excellent lustre. Prooflikes are plentiful, but cameos are tough.1897 P - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Moderately scarce in P-L.
1882 CC - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Some prooflikes.1897 O - Frosty surfaces, poor lustre. Extremely rare in P-L.
1883 P - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Semi-P-Ls are around, though full P-Ls are scarce.1897 S - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Available as P-L.
1883 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Many prooflikes.1898 P - Frosty surfaces, excellent lustre. Moderately scarce in P-L.
1883 S - Semi-prooflike surfaces, excellent lustre.1898 O - Frosty surfaces, excellent lustre. Relatively common in P-L.
1883 CC - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Moderately scarce as P-L.1898 S - Frosty or semi-P-L surfaces, excellent lustre. Prooflikes available.
1884 P - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Very scarce in true P-L.1899 P - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Not difficult to locate with P-L surfaces.
1884 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Prooflikes are readily available.1899 O - Frosty surfaces, excellent lustre. Somewhat scarce as full P-L, though available.
1884 S - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Prooflikes are rare, as is issue in Mint State.1899 S - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Occasionally available as P-L.
1884 CC - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Prooflikes available.1900 P - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Scarce in full P-L.
1885 P - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Prooflikes readily available.1900 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Moderately scarce in P-L.
1885 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Semi-P-Ls available, but true P-Ls scarcer.1900 S - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Prooflikes available from Redfield Hoard.
1885 S - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Very scarce in P-L.1901 P - Frosty surfaces, poor lustre. Of the highest rarity with P-L surfaces.
1885 CC - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Not difficult in P-L.1901 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Very scarce in P-L, though well struck and pleasing when found.
1886 P - Frosty surfaces, excellent lustre. P-Ls available.1901 S - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Extremely difficult in prooflike, and when found, is weakly struck.
1886 O - Frosty surfaces, poor to good lustre. Very rare with fully P-L surfaces. A few semi-P-Ls.1902 P - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Scarce, though available in P-L. Seldom attractive.
1886 S - Semi-prooflike surfaces, excellent lustre. Full P-Ls scarce.1902 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Scarce with fully reflective fields. Available as semi-P-L.
1887 P - Frosty surfaces, excellent lustre. Relatively common in P-L.1902 S - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Very scarce in P-L, rare in fully struck P-L.
1887 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. P-Ls appear.1903 P - Semi-prooflike surfaces, excellent lustre. Full prooflikes are very scarce.
1887 S - Frosty or semi-P-L surfaces. Good lustre. P-Ls appear, often one-sided.1903 O - Semi-prooflike surfaces, excellent lustre. Full prooflikes are scarce.
1888 P - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Scarce in P-L.1903 S - Frosty surfaces, excellent lustre. Rare as a prooflike.
1888 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Scarce in P-L.1904 P - Frosty surfaces, poor lustre. Almost unknown as a full P-L.
1888 S - Semi-P-L surfaces, good lustre. Scarce in true P-L.1904 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Common as prooflike.
1889 P - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Tough issue in P-L.1904 S - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Extremely rare as a P-L.
1889 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Very scarce in P-L, especially with mark-free surfaces.1921 P - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Moderately scarce as prooflike.
1889 S - Semi-P-L surfaces, excellent lustre. Deep mirror P-Ls elusive.1921 D - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Very tough to locate in full P-L.
1889 CC - Prooflike surfaces, good lustre. Entire issue quite rare.1921 S - Frosty surfaces, poor lustre. Extremely rare in P-L.
1890 P - Frosty surfaces, poor lustre. Very scarce in prooflike, especially with clean surfaces.
1890 O - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. P-Ls more common than generally thought.
1890 S - Semi-prooflike surfaces. Excellent lustre. Prooflikes are available.
1890 CC - Frosty surfaces, good lustre. Prooflikes seen with moderate frequency.



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