PCGS – Low Ball Coins

Posted on January 7, 2011 by

Can you believe that a coin graded PCGS Poor 1 will bring a higher premium than a coin that is graded PCGS MS63. It’s unbelievable.

 $1 1897-S Low Ball

(Image Courtesy of vamhead) 

This 1897-S Morgan Dollar graded PCGS Poor 1 sold for $565 on November 2010. The same coin in Uncirculated PCGS MS63 grade sells for under $120. And there are many more PCGS Poor 1 examples in the market realizing even more.  

Who would have ever thought that a coin that is almost completely worn and has the date and design just visible could be worth more than a coin in Uncircualted grades.

At PCGS, a coin assigned a grade of Poor 1 is a coin that has most of the design and date missing due to excessive wear from circulation. However, in most cases the coin has to be identifiable by its date, mint mark and type before PCGS assigns it a grade of Poor 1.

Not only do some coins in grades of Poor 1 command higher premiums than in most other grades.  Numerous times collectors have sent in coins graded PCGS Fair 2 under a grade review, in hopes of getting their coin downgraded to a grade of Poor 1.

Perhaps coins in grades of Poor 1 are much more desirable because they circulated heavily, and therefore have much more historical significance. Or, it can be because this is the lowest grade possible and it’s really hard to find a coin in this one specific grade.  Is it because it takes just a bit more wear before it becomes un-greadable. Or, is it because of the Set Registry and several collectors want to compete in Low Ball sets? Or it may be because collecting Low Ball coins is really fun.

Whatever the reason is, its fun to see Low Ball coins attract this much attention in the marketplace.

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Comments (12)


  1. MWH says:

    I paid that price for the 1897-S PO01 for numerous reasons. First as a PO01 Low Ball coin it fits perfectly into any low ball set without question. Next its a “S” mint coin and most “S” mint coins are rather scarce in a PO01 grade except the 1921-S PO01. Matter of fact there are several dates where no PO01 coins are found in “S” coins. I appreciate the PO01 Morgan dollar and the look that every PO01 shows off. This coin has now been in three different Top Pop sets and I am sure being also the only one of a kind coin it adds to the value to any set it resides in. Thank you for posting this information and if you have questions please contact me for further information. -Mike

  2. Koichi Ito says:

    I think that poor quality coin just as shown here, should be melted down for silver bullion! Because I never collect poor quality coins!

  3. Hi Michael,

    Nice to hear from you and congratulations on winning the coin imaged above. The Low Ball sets seem very fun to participate in and I am glad you are having a great time buidling this set.

    Thanks, jaime

  4. Hi Koichi Ito,

    That’s what makes many collectors appreciate Low Ball coins, as they are almost unrecognizable and most of them in this condition have already been melted.

    Thanks, jaime

  5. Jon says:

    I’ll admit that I had my doubts about low-ball collecting, but I have come to recognize it as a collecting genre in its own right. I do have to wonder if we will soon see a push for minus grades, stickers for “bottom for the grade” coins, and coin doctors puttying away at F and VF examples, trying to fake the look of a well-worn P01. Low-balling is both a serious game in its own right and a rather quitchy parody of the serious games.

  6. Hi Jon,

    After seeing hundreds of thousands of coins in my lifetime, I have to agree that finding a low ball coin in a grade of Poor 01 is very difficult. I have never found one personally even in coins from circulation, so its definitely a challenging set but also a lot of fun.

    Thanks, jaime

  7. David B Guild says:

    The phrase “history in your hands” romanticizes coin collecting . Think how many more hands a P01 coin has passed through than, say, a proof 65. Use your imagination; what path did that 97-S travel to wind up in your hand?

    What would the rarest low ball coin be? Maybe a 2012 penny in P01?

    Anybody out there low balling anything but dollars? I’m thinking of doing Indians/Flying Eagles.

  8. MWH says:

    If you check the 2012 PCGS Registry for Morgan dollar low ball set(s) you will see this coin has now become another “Key” coin in those sets. Finding a coin that can grade a PO01 is always a challenge. Finding coins that can help complete a most challenging set is the greatest obstacle for any collector regardless of grade of coin. Mike

  9. MWH says:

    The PCGS low ball registry has been going strong for some time now and some things haven’t changed much. Yet the 1897-S PO01 still is the Top Pop Morgan dollar in the current No. #1 low ball basic set but it also shares some great company as well. This is a educational journey as well as a collecting adventure. Anyone with enough resources can afford high-end examples but to find a problem free coin to grade the best PO01 or FR02 is another story all together. Coins are a time piece to see how well the coin survived on its journey. Low ball collecting is not for everybody and that should be respected. But if you venture into looking for well traveled examples then you have walked through the doors on a journey that will challenge your skills and knowledge of what it is you seek. When you find your first RAW PO01 coin and it grades you will have accomplished what others look for but seldom find because you stepped out and took the challenge head on.

  10. JMM says:

    I recently got into low ball coin collecting since they’re rare to find slabbed yet also more common than you would expect when found as a raw example. When you think of it, these low ball specimens (I call them bummers) are a great investment now since they can be bought cheaply and turned over for big bucks depending on the series. I currently own 2 different PO01 coins from PCGS (and no other grading services). I have 1 of the 3 1805 25 Cent pieces and also the only 1875 CC 20 Cent piece! I purchased them both off of Ebay. I have a Lexington-Concord Patriot Half Dollar I’m hoping to get a PO01 grade on. I also have a bigger collection of FA02 coins from SEGS, ANACS & NGC. As information that low ball coins are in demand expect more of them to be slabbed and values to drop over time. If you’re in it for the money appreciation aspect of coins I’d say go for the most attractive looking and highest graded coins. However I’m the type of person who would like to get a particular coin issue in every grade possible from 1 to 70 on the Sheldon Scale, however that’s easier said than done for most coins. It’s a fun idea to try and accomplish but not realistic as even Photograde has a difficult time finding specimens from 1-3 and 66-70 in many cases.

  11. MWH says:

    While the low ball field continues to evolve the elusive grade of PO01s will still hold its own for awhile. I suspect that more coins will end up grading PO01s but it only indicates what might be common and not so much a scarce or semi-scarce type coins that they may turn out to be. If your talking about Morgan dollars grading set from a PO01 up to MS70 on the Sheldon Scale the Morgan dollars stop at MS69s. With all the melting’s that have taken place over the years and other issues that can prevent coins from grading problem free this type of collecting is really a much more challenging venture than most collectors realize. The No. #1 Morgan Dollar low ball set will be on display at the 2014 ANA Coin show by PCGS Registry. Consider your self fortunate to have a graded PO01 because there are countless thousands who have never seen one in hand and that includes dealers as well.

  12. MWH says:

    This may be the last time this coin is seen. The Morgan dollar basic low ball set and all other sub sets were retired this afternoon. The fact still remains that this 1897-S PO01 has stood up to some stiff competition over the years and the current set’s rating was a 100% Top Pop PCGS graded set. Low ball collecting is not for everyone but if you think some of these sets are easy to assemble there is still room up at the top for improvement. Off on another adventure-

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