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How to spot and stop pin scratches

Few things are as upsetting as bidding on a coin via the Internet only to receive your winning lot with a pin scratch that the photograph hid or worse — that was manipulated visually to hide. But the most upsetting occurrence is to receive a coin without a scratch that you inflict while opening a flip.

This column uses more video rather than text to show how this happens and how you can avoid it in the future.

First, always ask an online auctioneer to provide better photos if you see a coin that may contain a scratch. Or patronize sellers who post several photos of a coin, revealing the scratch. Here is one who does the latter:

Hover to zoom.

As you can see, the scratch is not plainly visible in the photo with the flip but then becomes obvious when a close-up of the coin is shared. Unfortunately, many auctioneers provide only minimal and often blurry photos. So bid on these at your own risk.

Staplers are the main cause of scratches on coins. In this video, you’ll see the difference between a typical stapler and a numismatic one in securing a coin inside a flip.

How you open a flip also can cause a pin scratch. This happens when you pull apart a flip and try to secure the coin in your fingers, sometimes scratching your finger or pulling the coin across an open staple.

This is what happened when I opened a flip in the wrong way.

Here’s a video on that:

Finally, the best way to open a flip is to use a scissors to cut the corners of the flip, moving the corner with the staple a safe distance from the coin.

Here’s a video on that:

If you follow these simple, visual rules — contacting sellers for better photos, taking care opening flips — you will save yourself anguish and money for the hobby.

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