Professional Coin Grading Service keeps upping the ante on their PCGS Photograde service. In its latest release, PCGS has added more coin images, new series (e.g., Half Cents, Large Cents, and Half Dimes), and more coin imagess in lower grades. PCGS boasts that there are 1,450 images for Photograde covering almost all coin series. As part of the website service, PCGS now includes their Guidelines for Eye Appeal that includes images to supplement the text.

With the upgrades includes upgrades for the PCGS Photograde for the iPhone app and PCGS Photograde HD for Apple’s new iPad. Since I do not own an iPad (I rarely buy the first release of any product), my review is only for the iPhone app and the website.

The first thing we find when starting the Photograde app is that it does not put the iPhone in landscape mode. In fact, the entire application will work in portrait or in landscape mode. While a this may sound like a trivial change, iPhone users will tell you that being able to control the how the app is viewed can make the difference between being useful and a nice-to-have app. Being able to be used in portrait mode means I can just hold the iPhone without having to reposition while I use the image to compare with the coin I am looking at. This subtle change is a big plus for this app.

Added to the application were images for half cents and large cents with great images of the coins in the various grades. Even if I will never own a Chain Cent, it is nice to have a clear picture of one to carry around while I walk the bourse floor. Half Cent collectors will also benefit for the adding of those coins. Like all of the other series, the images are clear and can be magnified on the iPhone using pinch motions.

Another nice addition is more coins in lower grades, even for a series like the Jefferson Nickels.. Those who collect coins in lower grades can now determine what the grade of their coin is. Those of us who sometimes buy lower grades because of the higher grade coins are not as affordable, it gives us an idea of how each coin would grade so we can buy it at a fair price.

Speaking of eye appeal, I found PCGS’s page about eye appeal very interesting. While I like the description, the pictures leave much to be desired. Apparently, PCGS thinks that everyone finds toned coins attractive. With all due respect to PCGS and those fans of toned coins, I am not someone who finds them attractive. Toning is environmental damage. It is the oxidation of the medals (primarily silver) caused by exposure to the elements whether by chance or on purpose. Thus I find the Morgan Dollar they call “Amazing” to be quite a bit less than amazing. In fact, almost all of the coins in the page are toned which I do not find appealing. I understand I may be in the minority in this discussion, but PCGS should recognize that there are collectors with similar views and maybe should consider toned and untoned coins for this section.

Still, the modern coins have been completely omitted from the applications and the website. Jefferson Nickels do not include mint state grading images of the current design, quarters and halves do not include the bicentennial images, and the quarters do not show the obverse of the State Quarters design. As for the dollars, the images end with the Peace Dollars. As I said in the first two reviews, given that there were some circulation of the Eisenhower and Susie B’s as well as striking issues with the Eisenhower dollar, it would be nice to have an image reference of these coins.

PCGS keeps making very good improvements to the website and the iPhone application. For this upgrade, I give both the website and iPhone app a grade of MS68, a premium grade for their new additions but less than perfect for the continued omission of post-1964 coins. PCGS can up this score by adding modern dollars and make it a perfect 70 by adding all modern coin series.

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