Grading Leonard Auctions

We will run occasional grading checks on Proxibid auctions so you can see how we bid based on condition. These coins are from Leonard Auctions’ Oct. 19 session. We grade on PCGS standards as found on Photograde, admittedly more conservative than grading of most auctioneers but still the standard in numismatics. Click pictures below to expand.

We call a coin:

    “Uncirculated” if will grade at NGC or PCGS at the MS60-62 level. We see evidence of cleaning, tiny hairlines by the date and legend. John Leonard calls this “Uncirculated, Cleaned.” We agree.


    “Choice Uncirculated” if will grade at NGC or PCGS at the MS63-64 level. Leonard calls this “borderline 64, perhaps MS63.” We think that is conservative. We see this as a solid MS64.


    MINT STATE” if it would grade MS63. We agree with the grade here. On 3-cent nickel coins, the US Mint issue with the fewest devices (wreath and numeral), we inspect the fields for bag marks. We see some faint chatter and agree with Leonard’s grade.


    Choice Almost Uncirculated” if it would grade AU58 (essentially a slider–or one that could be mistaken for mint state). We agree with this grade, believe it is conservative, but also know that true AU58s sometimes have more eye appeal than low mint state. Again, Leonard comes through with a conservative but accurate grade.


    VERY FINE” if it would grade VF20-35. Leonard calls this VF20. We think it is VF25. Again, another conservative grade, which makes this auctioneer hyper-focused on bidder satisfaction, especially on this coveted 1909S VDB key date. We know auctioneers who would call this “extra fine 45” or higher.


    FINE” if it would grade F12-15. Leonard calls this F12. We say it is F15.


    Almost Uncirculated” if it would grade AU50-55. Leonard calls this AU53; we say it is AU55. Another conservative grade in the interest of the bidder.


    Prooflike” if we can detect reflective luster. We do on this coin, in addition to agreeing with the grade, MS63.


    Dipped” if we can detect tiny grains in the fields. Click here to read about detecting dipped coins. We see those grains in addition to damage on the cheek. Leonard doesn’t offer a grade, just states “dipped.” We know auction houses that would call this “Uncirculated.”


    Generally, in our subjective but nonetheless expert opinion, we feel Leonard Auction is conservative or accurate to PCGS standards in almost all of his lots. This stands in stark contrast to the vast majority of auction houses on Proxibid, including many of our top-ranked houses. John Leonard does charge a high buyer’s fee of 20% with a 2.5% cash discount, but we patronize his sessions because we have never been disappointed in the coins we receive and inspect up close without photography. We leave it up to you to agree or disagree with our designations.

    As noted, grading is in part subjective, and is difficult to do via online photographs. Our designations are based on how we bid and why. Thus, the overall grade on John Leonard’s grading based on our criteria: A+.

    Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

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