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Two 1970 10-Won "Bronze" Coins

Started by Verify-12, May 20, 2018, 11:15:12 PM

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Verify-12

I submitted a few coins to the U.S. "Third-Party Grader," Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC).

They were:
Two South Korean 10-Won coins (1970)
Two Japanese Five-Yen coins (Showa-32; 1957)
...and One Swaziland Silver 10-Emalangeni (1975)

Here are the 10-Won coins, with their Metallurgical Analyses results on the information tags inside the holders.
This proves that they are the "Bronze" variety.   These are the big key date South Korean coins.  However, I think that the 1969 10-Won coin in this kind of mint state condition is just as hard to find, and getting almost as expensive.

Figleaf

I really wish I could react differently and share your enthusiasm.

However, that "metallurgical analysis" looks deeply suspicious to me. The numbers on both coins are exactly the same and strongly suggest brass. The colour may have been off due to lighting etc., but the white inside the cases only looks a shade too dark, so in reality, the coins would be a shade more yellow. Yellowing is caused by the addition of zinc to copper.

In a real metallurgical analysis, you find several materials mentioned (trace metals) and percentages are not rounded to full numbers. The trace metals are mentioned, because they are a "signature", providing important clues as to where the metal was mined (provided it is not recycled metal). The presentation on the cases looks like someone decided they were "brass" and added the numbers from a catalogue accordingly. If you paid for a metallurgical analysis, you should ask the full report. If you didn't pay for it, don't expect them to do it.

If the coins would have been bronze, the case would have mentioned copper and tin, possibly with traces of zinc, but certainly not 12%.

In conclusion, the TPG decided the coins were brass, probably without analysis. They look brass to me. If you have reason to think they are bronze, you need a full analytical report, because that's not what you got.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Verify-12

#2
"Bronze" and "Brass" in relation to 1970-dated 10-Won and Five-Won coins ONLY refers to their variety, not the TECHNICAL definition of the metal content itself.  I know, I know:  More language imprecision.  Let me explain:

Yes, these coins are brass, but I believe the name "bronze" comes from the market name of this metal (90% Copper - 10% Zinc, which is close to this 88% Copper - 12% Zinc composition), and is called "Commercial Bronze." Maybe it was the Korean numismatic community or the U.S. collecting community that took that name, cut off the "Commercial" part of the name, since that's so hard to say with it's three(!) syllables, and just called the coining metal "bronze."

The collecting community also uses the word "brass" to describe the post-July 16, 1970 strikes of the 1970-dated 10-Won coins, which were then struck exclusively in a copper-reduced 65% Copper -35% Zinc composition, due to rises in copper prices at the time. I believe that this is also a shortening of the word, "High Brass" which is another market name describing any brass metal that is at least 33% zinc in composition.

The U.S. grading companies even took up this "bronze/brass" terminology, with NGC until just a few years ago attributing 10-Won and Five-Won S. Korean coins as "BRONZE" or "BRASS" (for FREE, by the way, not anymore!). Notice that I had to pay SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS for each of those metal analyses, that is, IF I wanted my coins to have the variety attribution on the tags! Notice how THAT used to be free. It seems that they've taken a hint from the airline industry and are charging for stuff that used to be free.

Take a look at how this has changed (in the image below):
#1 and #4 are the old labels, and #3 is what you get nowadays if you don't pay NGC $75 bucks, and #2 is what you get if you do.

Figleaf

I don't doubt a word of what you are saying. I still think it's scandalous.

A copper-zinc amalgam cannot possibly be called bronze. Doing so is lying, or as it is known today, "fake news". It is brass. Don't take my word for it, look it up in Wikipedia. I don't care what the marketeers call it. German silver does not contain silver. Nordic gold is not made with gold. Commercial bronze is not bronze.

I think the real problem is that calling it bronze is sexier than calling it Cu88Zn12. It puts weight on the claim that it is a separate sub-type. For similar reasons, Chinese cash coins and French revolution coins were once catalogued as existing in copper or brass. Wrong. The amalgam was just uneven, causing colour differences. A distinction without a significant difference. How important is the colour difference? If you want to have an expensive laugh, send a TPG two cheap type 1970 10 won coins in the same package, one after having spent a month in olive oil, the other after a rubbing with an eraser. I bet they will call one bronze, the other brass.

I am further scandalised that for $75 you don't even get a report of the analysis. I maintain that it is even doubtful they actually did the analysis. In addition, I find the price laughable. Spend some time finding a contact who has access to a spectral analysis machine. In the country where I live, they are used by universities, some museums, technical and archaeological research agencies, metal trading companies and dealers in second hand jewellery. Make sure the contact understands how to handle a coin and why you don't want it cleaned. If you don't abuse it, they may well do an analysis for free. Buy your contact a nice bottle of wine from time to time.

That's not to say you can't collect these coins. You set your own collecting goals and they are none of anyone's business. However, you should make such decisions with full knowledge of the facts, not on the basis of loud and insistent sloganology.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Verify-12

#4
Quote from: Figleaf on May 21, 2018, 11:41:47 PM
I don't doubt a word of what you are saying. I still think it's scandalous.

A copper-zinc amalgam cannot possibly be called bronze. Doing so is lying, or as it is known today, "fake news". It is brass. Don't take my word for it, look it up in Wikipedia. I don't care what the marketeers call it. German silver does not contain silver. Nordic gold is not made with gold. Commercial bronze is not bronze.

I think the real problem is that calling it bronze is sexier than calling it Cu88Zn12. It puts weight on the claim that it is a separate sub-type. For similar reasons, Chinese cash coins and French revolution coins were once catalogued as existing in copper or brass. Wrong. The amalgam was just uneven, causing colour differences. A distinction without a significant difference. How important is the colour difference? If you want to have an expensive laugh, send a TPG two cheap type 1970 10 won coins in the same package, one after having spent a month in olive oil, the other after a rubbing with an eraser. I bet they will call one bronze, the other brass.

I am further scandalised that for $75 you don't even get a report of the analysis. I maintain that it is even doubtful they actually did the analysis. In addition, I find the price laughable. Spend some time finding a contact who has access to a spectral analysis machine. In the country where I live, they are used by universities, some museums, technical and archaeological research agencies, metal trading companies and dealers in second hand jewellery. Make sure the contact understands how to handle a coin and why you don't want it cleaned. If you don't abuse it, they may well do an analysis for free. Buy your contact a nice bottle of wine from time to time.
Peter

Thanks for your input Peter.

Again, this "bronze/brass" terminology is simply jargon that was used in the collector community even before the introduction of the grading companies in 1986.   The grading company, NGC, simply had been using this terminology because collectors wanted "bronze" or "brass" expressed on the information tag in the plastic holder they got back from the grading company.   NGC never charged for labelling your coin "bronze" or "brass."    Then they changed to no longer using these terms about three years ago.  Nowadays, you have to pay for XRF analysis if you want to know which variety of coin you have.

Actually, this company, NGC, are probably following YOUR advice(!) by no longer labelling the coins they grade as "bronze" or "brass."   I think that they see two things:  1) The pre-July 16, 1970 varieties of this coin are not actually bronze, and 2) They no longer want to get involved in this collector-terminology controversy, so, they just said, "Fine, forget it.  We won't label these coins as 'bronze' or 'brass' anymore!  If the customer wants us to tell them what the ratio of Copper to Zinc alloy he or she has in a 1970 10-Won coin, then the customer should pay us $75 USD and we'll XRF analyze the coin and put that analysis on the information tag in the plastic holder."   And NGC DOES give you a paper copy of the analysis as well.  See image below.   However, before sending my coins in to NGC, I never even heard of any collectors who have paid for metal analysis even talk about this piece of paper!  They only care about what is written on the tag on the inside of that plastic holder.

NGC probably turned this kerfuffle over "metal language" to their own financial advantage!   

Sure, I could ask a lab technician at the University of Minnesota to zap my coins with an analyzer and pay her a "bottle of wine" (this IS Minnesota, so I might not even have to do that!).   BUT: The analysis wouldn't get on the inside of that little plastic holder, Peter!   I don't think that any collector here or in South Korea would accept a separate "piece of paper" that tells you what metals ratio you have ("how can I be certain you didn't FAKE that paper!?").  However, collectors here and in South Korea and Japan certainly DO accept the opinions of these third-party grading companies!   This reality may be a little difficult for some people to accept...

The "graded coins in plastic holders" phenomenon is a big deal in North America, and HUGE deal in South Korea, where NGC grading holds sway over higher-valued Korean coins.  In Japan, it is a different U.S. third-party grading company, and NGC rival, Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) that seems to hold sway over graded Japanese coins.

If I have higher-grade, scarce coins like these two 1970 88cu/12zn 10-Won coins in this collecting community, then I will probably HAVE TO pay a grading company to grade them if I want to sell them later.  Because when it comes to later selling these coins in this coin market, the buyer's question will always be "Why isn't this coin in a holder?  Is there something wrong with it?  Maybe I'm getting ripped off?!"   The main, growing problem here is that coin collectors are NOT becoming knowledgable about authenticating and grading their coins for themselves.  Even if they are knowledgable about grading the coins they collect, many collectors and dealers of coins here often will not purchase coins that are not in plastic!

They are starting to rely solely on the grade (and variety attribution) on that little paper tag the grading company gives them on the inside of that plastic holder (along with simple "eye appeal" of the coin).   Strange times we're living in, Peter!

Here's a video of me opening the box that NGC sent me with these coins:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do9CP5FWyJ0&t=196s

Arminius

Poor coins in a coffin - why did they die?

;)