Judgment of the
relative worth of a gold or silver cob, within the market range of its category
at any given time, should reflect a composite evaluation of these factors:
What is the mint?
the mintmark visible, and how clearly so? How many indications of mintmark
are visible? (Up to three are possible on silver cobs of the
the full date visible? In the case of a partial date, the final one or two
digits are more important than the first one or two digits. Or is the cob
of a period when cobs were not dated, hence the absence of a date is no
dated, how many dates are visible, and how clearly so? (Two or three dates
are possible on some cobs, only one possible on others.)
the assayer’s initial visible, and how clearly so? How many repetitions of
the assayer’s initial are visible? (Up to three are possible on silver cobs
of the pillars-and-waves type.)
the legend readable? Completely so? Partially so? Not at all? (The
king’s name and ordinal are the most desirable part of the wording to be
the denomination visible, and how clearly so? (A second indication of
denomination is possible on silver cobs of the pillars-and-waves type.)
complete and clear are the elements of design and other details? For
example, what percentage of the shield, crown, and cross is visible? How
nice, or poor, are the lions and castles?
the design and details well centered, and on both sides or on only one
side? If not well centered, as is usually the case, what is gained and what
is lost in the expansion of some peripheral details and the resultant
reduction of others?
the strike bold, average, or weak? Neatly struck or double struck?
the cut of the metal of a shape typical for its period and mint or in some
way more, or less, attractive or interesting? (Cracks in the edge, while
natural, lower a cob’s value, although smaller splits are less detrimental.)
closely does the weight of the coin approximate its original stipulated
weight? Has the coin lost weight from shaving, slinging, or immersion in
the coin been unnecessarily cleaned or polished? (Cleaning is necessary for
silver cobs from sea salvage or land burial, undesirable otherwise.)
the coin been holed? Plugged? Removed from jewelry? Mutilated in any
other way? (Holes in silver cobs are frequent, so not as damaging to their
value as in the case of machine-made coins, but a cob without a hole is
still much preferable to the holed piece.)
What is the overall condition or grade by normal numismatic standards?
(Very few cobs are seen in Uncirculated grade, or even in About
Entirely a subjective judgment, how attractive is the overall appearance of
the coin (“eye appeal”)? Does the coin appeal to you?
many coins of this type—such as mint, assayer, date, specific shipwreck or
sea-salvage—have been on the market lately? (Sometimes a hoard of similar
coins is discovered, and what used to be rare can become less rare.)
you sure the coin is genuine? (Its purchase or trade from a cob
specialist—be he dealer or advanced collector—is the best guarantee, until
you yourself are sufficiently experienced to make the judgment with
The few coins that do not fit
into the prevailing price ranges are the particularly awful specimens (greatly
underweight, very poor details, badly corroded, or mutilated), which will be
lower, and the extraordinarily nice ones (singular detail and beauty), which can
commodities, the overall foreign or domestic coin market oscillates between
strength and weakness at a given time. This can be affected by general economic
conditions (rare coins are purchased with discretionary income), or by fad
(silver dollars can be hot one month, commemorative half dollars the next; or
British coins are in demand one year, Spanish coins the next), or by a temporary
and usually accidental surfeit or shortage of certain types of coins. For
example, in the 1983-85 period a huge hoard of gold cobs of the 1715 fleet
appeared on the market and depressed prices. After the material was absorbed,
prices rebounded and today are many times their former levels. The test of a
coin worth holding is the ability of its price to recuperate from any temporary
depressant. Buy the best and the rarest and in the long run you will be safe.
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Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC
P.O. BOX 1964 | Winter Park, Florida 32790
Phone: 407.975.3325 | Fax: 407.975.3327
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