A "Slider" Coin, Sold as Unc

One of the worst abuses foisted upon the unknowlegeable collector is the practice of selling "Sliders" as Uncirculated coins.  A "Slider" is an coin that technically grades AU-58, in other words it shows just the barest hint of wear on the high points, but retains almost all of the original luster.  The term "slider" comes from the commercial consderation that the coin can "slide" up in grade from AU to become an "Unc".   A disparaging term used by some, primarily on the West Coast, is "Beltway BU".  This recognizes that the majority of the problem seems to stem from the practices of dealers on the East Coast.

The problem is of course more complicated than that - I will have an expanded discussion of this issues in our section on "Grading" shortly in the future.  The images below show a classic example of this problem - a Key Date 1903-O Morgan Dollar sold as "Unc".  An exceptionally rare coin prior to the mass release of Silver Dollars in the late 1950's-early 1960's, bag quantities emerged in November of 1962, many of which circulated briefly before being recognized and hoarded by collectors and dealers.  The combined result of coins that had been stored in bags for 57 years banging and rubbing together, and the brief trip into commerce (including a number of trips through slot machines) left most 1903-O Dollars in grades between AU50 and MS-62.  If one of these coins retained 95% plus of the original luster, dealers commonly get away with calling these coins "MS-60".

There is a truely fine line here, but in my professional opinion, this coin shown shows the signs of having been in circulation, and having being there long enough to have picked up some actual wear (it is not widely appreciated that a coin can circulate for a short time, NOT receive any wear, and still qualify as Unc or Mint State, which ever term you prefer - this discussion is for another day).  As the difference in price between an AU50 and an MS60 is only about $10-20, why would anyone take the risk? My advice is to buy a coin advertised as an AU at an AU price, or choice a clearly BU coin for maybe $50 more.