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Category: Dominion Grading Service

Dominion Grading Service (DGS) to Discontinue Slabbing

DGS announced today that effective immediately, all grading and certification operations at Dominion Grading Service (DGS) has been discontinued.

In a statement posted on the David Lawrence Blog page, the following explaination was given:

“In the time since we started DGS, both PCGS and NGC have made great strides and improvements to their grading technologies and practices and we no longer feel that our services are needed. Additionally, CAC is doing a fantastic job of assessing the quality in PCGS and NGC holders.

As for DGS, we simply do not feel that there is enough demand for collector coins at this time to merit our further investment. We have discontinued grading at DGS at this time. If you have DGS-graded coins to sell, please offer them to us for sale. We remain committed to the quality and standards of our grading at DGS and we still make two-way markets in DGS-graded coins. ”

In April 2008 DLRC launched Dominion Grading Service using the assets of the old PCI grading services thay had purchases as a base. At the time John Feigenbaum said ” “we had initially planned to keep the PCI brand name, but we quickly realized that it would be impossible to overcome the confusion that would ensue as we endeavor to recalibrate the [PCI] grading standards. Therefore, we have decided to discontinue the PCI brand in favor of an all-new grading company named Dominion Grading Service.“

Although Dominion used the same holder as PCI, that’s where the similarities end. DGS grading was based on strict standards (i.e. Photograde, for circulated coins). On mint state coinage, DGS graded conservatively with a focus on eye appeal, freshness of surfaces (including originality) and marketability.

Some of the innovative concepts at DGS were:

1. AuthentiVIEW ™: DGS introduced a service called AuthentiVIEW ™ which was integral to the submission process. All coins submitted above the “Budget” tier (i.e. valued above $100) were imaged — and this imaged serve as an authentication tool for any DGS certified coin. Anyone was able to go online, enter a serial # and see an image of the coin in the holder after it was graded.

2. Visual Population Report: DGS was the first grading service to have an entirely visual population report on its web site. Users who wished to look up populations were able to see the AuthentiVIEW images of all the coins graded. Feigenbaum stated at the time, “We anticipate this to be a useful tool for all numismatists. Just imagine the ability to see every 1901-S quarter we’ve certified; or a more common coin like the 1933-S Walker. This visual archive will be available to everyone.”

3. Net Grading of Problem Coins: Coins that have been cleaned, repaired, or damaged in any way will be slabbed in the same holder and label as undamaged coins, but the holder will describe the problem without “net grading the coin”. Coins will not be double-punished. The actual best determination of grade will be stated along with the notation of the problem. For example a coin may be described as: DGS AU55: Lightly Cleaned, Reverse scratches. According to Feigenbaum, “most coins are not perfect or original and it’s a shame not to have them in holders.”

David Lawrence Rare Coins View on PCGS’ Hard Stance Against Coin Doctors

Guest Commentary By John Feigenbaum – David Lawrence Rare Coins

On Friday, May 28, the numismatic community learned of lawsuit filed by Collectors Universe (the parent company of PCGS) against a group of so-called coin doctors. There’s no reason to rehash the details of this lawsuit as you can find good information on the site, including a PDF of the actual filing.

From my perspective, action against the “coin doctors” has been overdue. For years, these guys have enjoyed an unfair advantage in the U.S. coin market and their presence in the general marketplace and auctions made it more difficult for legitimate buyers to compete. But we all accepted their existence because these folks have been around as long as there was a profit to be made in artificially improving coins. The grading services were designed originally to eliminate this scourge, but these guys are good and their methods are ever-improving. The extent of the doctoring of late has been somewhat hidden during this time, so some of the revelations in the filing are news, even to me. Now, it seems PCGS has drawn a line in the sand and they are throwing the book at some known offenders. More like a hammer, actually.

The heart of the matter seems to lie in the definition of exactly what is meant by the term “coin doctoring”. Are we talking about the dipping, or conservation of a coin’s surfaces? Are we talking about artificial toning of a coin to cover past cleaning, or scratches? Or, are we talking about the most nefarious acts of moving metal (whizzing, lasering) and surface alteration, like the enhancement of the bands of a Mercury dime to achieve the Full Bands (FB) designation?

I absolutely applaud PCGS for taking this measure. It has been too long in coming and it’s high time the leaders of the coin market took a stand against the alteration of a coin’s surface to deceive the grading houses.

In filing this suit, PCGS has aimed a missile at the latter-mentioned offenders. The so-called “metal movers”. There is no room for argument in any of our minds that this is wrong and should be dealt with harshly. Clearly PCGS has known about these guys for some time because the examples they present in the brief acknowledge a “rebuilt full head standing quarter” back in 2005. So, why now? The most logical conclusion I can make is that – for too long — they hoped the problem would end on its own through better detection techniques, and now they have also announced something called a Coin Sniffer™, for this purpose. I suppose this is the other shoe in PCGS’ “Big One” announcement back in March.

So, if lasering, re-engraving and rebuilding are obviously wrong and (perhaps) criminal acts (see paragraph #47), the bigger question is what is the low-watermark standard for coin doctoring? Is adding any foreign substance to the surface of a coin to conceal damage of any kind (hairlines, gouges, etc) going to be considered “doctoring”?

I would like to see PCGS take the next step of defining what is legitimate conservation versus doctoring. Perhaps a consortium of industry leaders like PCGS, NGC, CAC and PNG could work together to create such a document. It’s not clear that PCGS is interested in doing so, but I hope they would consider such a move to unify the marketplace. (more…)

Dominion Grading Service Certifies & Grades Rare Gold

Virginia Beach, VA. The graders at Dominion Grading Service were very excited to receive some high powered submissions lately, including five numismatic gold rarities. These rarities, and their final grades are:

1879 Flowing Hair $4 DGS Proof 62 (Altered Surfaces)
1795 $5 Small Eagle DGS AU50 (Altered Surfaces, Tooled)
1795 $10 DGS AU50 (Lightly Cleaned, Tooled, Rim Damage)
1920-S $10 DGS MS62 (Cleaned, Environmental Damage)
1921 $20 DGS AU53 (Reverse Scratches)

Senior grader Mike Ellis says “The more coins we get out there in DGS holders the more the numismatic community is learning to appreciate the value we offer. All five of these coins are rare and valuable, albeit some with minor problems and cleaning.”

Ellis continues, “We feel that collectors need to know the degree of severity of such problems, as well as the specific problems – so they can make an informed and accurate determination of value. When clients submit these kinds of coins for authentication and grading, we know we are doing things right.”


DGS Slabs Barbieri Cache of “Smoking Liberty” Seated Quarters

DGSVirginia Beach, VA. – In July of 2008 Ken Potter wrote an extensive and lavishly illustrated article reporting on the discovery of a most interesting and eye catching die variety found on an 1857 Liberty Seated Quarter dollar. It has since been embraced by the numismatic community and dubbed the “Smoking Liberty” variety.

Potter reported the variety was first spotted by collector John O’Hare who showed it to friend and fellow collector, Saverio Barbieri, in the early part of 2000. So smitten by the variety was Barbieri he began an eight-year search for more specimens. After searching an estimated 30,000+ Liberty Seated quarters of that date on eBay and shows across the country Barbieri found a total of 28 specimens bringing the known population to 29 pieces. O’Hare still has his “discovery piece” he first shared with Barbieri.

Since publication of the seemingly rare die variety Mike Ellis, senior grader and variety specialist at Dominion Grading Service (DGS) in Virginia Beach, Virginia, found one in a client’s submission which was encapsulated by DGS as a lightly cleaned AU55 making it the first “Smoking Liberty” encapsulated as such. It brought the number of known, slabbed examples to three, the first two being unattributed examples in NGC MS-64 and NGC MS-61.

Both NGC and ANACS have since declined to attribute the coin in their holders, citing the new variety as being too much of an unknown.

This is a common reaction to new varieties submitted to major grading services as they opt for more information to come to light before proceeding. Barbieri asked PCGS, NGC, ANACS and ICG at the recently concluded FUN show in Orlando, Florida again if they were ready to attribute this really fun variety on the holder. Again they reported they were not yet ready to do so. (more…)

DGS Authenticates & Grades Rare Lafayette Dollar Variety

Duvall 4-E Variety is Just the Second Reported Specimen

Rare Lafayette Dollar Variety Duvall 4?EVirginia Beach, VA. The graders at Dominion Grading Service are excited to announce that they have certified the second known example of this very rare variety. The Duvall 4-E variety was thought to be unique until the discovery of this coin, which has been graded AU58 Cleaned by DGS.

According to John Feigenbaum, President of DGS, the coin has “the initial appearance of a mint state coin but the luster is almost too nice and lacks the frosty surfaces of a true mint state. The coin has virtually no wear and has been very lightly cleaned to show evidence of wipe lines upon close examination in proper lighting. The only significant mark on either side of the coin is a 3 mm scratch on Washington’s cheek. Without the mishandling, this coin might have otherwise graded MS63.”

Feigenbaum continued to say that “this coin is the perfect example of the kind of collector rarity that we pride ourselves at DGS. Because the coin is lightly cleaned, some of the other grading services wouldn’t even examine the coin for variety. At DGS, we appreciate that many great coins may not be pristine, but still benefit from certification. Our affiliation with David Lawrence Rare Coins and DLRC Auctions also gives clients the opportunity to submit the coins and then bring them directly to market. In the case of the 4-E, the client intends to do just that. No other leading firm can offer that full-service experience in house.”Detail of Reverse Position of Olive Branch

The Duvall 4-E Variety

The Duvall 4-E variety is distinctive because of the unique positioning of the olive branch on the reverse. The right side of the branch terminates over the numeral 9 of 1900. All other known varieties see this branch end over the right side of the first 0 in 1900. Prior to the appearance of this coin, the existence of Duvall 4-E was thought to be unique.

The only other known Lafayette dollar of this die variety was sold in August 2007 by Heritage Numismatic Auctions as part of their Signature ANA Auction. (Lot 2090). It was graded MS60 by ANACS and realized $18,400 to a phone bidder. According to the Heritage lot description, that coin was “well struck with dusky chestnut, aqua, and plum-mauve patina. Both sides unusually free from marks, particularly on the portraits.” Based on the description of marks, these are clearly not the same coin. (more…)

DLRC Auctions to Offer Over 100 DGS Coins in Auction this Week – Highlighted by Proof-45 Gobrecht Dollar

Gobrecht dollarVirginia Beach, VA. Dominion Grading continues to reach important milestones as they establish themselves as respected third party graders in the numismatic community. According to President, John Feigenbaum, “We’ve now received over 1500 coins for grading, with a minority of those coming from our sister company, David Lawrence Rare Coins. We are very careful when grading all coins that are submitted and take great care to ensure that each DGS certified coin will stand on its own in the marketplace. The numismatic community is quickly becoming aware that our grading is conservative and consistent. Submitters have been very happy with the quality of our work.”

Expectations have been exceeded at DGS with the receipt of over 1500 coins in the first 45 days of grading. Feigenbaum continues, “It’s important to understand that we are not grading multiples of anything so far. Every submission has included a variety of different coins and our graders are really enjoying the process. It would be easy to grade a bag of silver dollars, or rolls of Lincoln cents, but on average we’re getting 10 different coins in an 11 coin submission.”

DLRC Auctions offering over 100 DGS Slabs this week

For the first time ever, there is a concentration of DGS slabs in a single auction at The Internet Only auction, which closes Thursday, June 26, is highlighted by a choice XF45 Gobrecht dollar. In addition, there are many coins valued from $25-$5000 including a collection of early Walkers and better date Morgan dollars in XF-Uncirculated grades. (more…)

DGS Grades over 625 Coins in the First 3 Weeks of Operation

Early Goals Have Been Exceeded, Signature Series Graders Added

John Feigenbaum {Virginia Beach, VA.} Dominion Grading Service (DGS) announced today that their initial operations goals have been exceeded in the first month. According to John Feigenbaum, President, “as of May 20, we have graded 638 coins and met our goals in many other areas as well, including our software which provides email updates to submitters as orders reach various stages of the submission process. The web site offers similar features, including the ability to view any coin slabbed and valued over $100 (a feature we call AuthentiView™).”

Signature Series Graders Added

Signature Series GradersIn our first month of operations, DGS solidified Signature Series grader agreements with: Rick Snow (Indian Cents); Jim McGuigan (early U.S. coinage); Bill Bugert (Seated Half Dollars); and John Feigenbaum will perform this service for Barber coinage and Washington quarters, upon request.

DGS was very excited to receive its first Signature Series submission which included several rare large cent varieties, and a sharp example of the very rare 1802 half dime (DGS XF40 Slightly Bent, Light Graffiti), which has a pedigree back to the Buddy Ebsen collection and is valued over $100,000. Jim McGuigan — a renowned specialist in U.S. Bust coinage — graded and authenticated this important coin. His opinion was verified by three other graders at DGS. (more…)

Dominion Grading Service (DGS) is Formally Launched

PCI Brand Name is Discontinued, but Holder will be used for DGS Slabs

Virginia Beach, VA. The owner of the PCI grading service announced today that they have launched a new numismatic grading and authentication company named Dominion Grading Service, or DGS.Dominion Grading Service

John Feigenbaum, President, stated today that “we had initially planned to keep the PCI brand name, but we quickly realized that it would be impossible to overcome the confusion that would ensue as we endeavor to recalibrate the [PCI] grading standards. Therefore, we have decided to discontinue the PCI brand in favor of an all-new grading company named Dominion Grading Service.“

Dominion will be using the same holder as PCI, but that’s where the similarities end. DGS grading will be based on strict standards (i.e. Photograde, for circulated coins). On mint state coinage, DGS will grade conservatively with a focus on eye appeal, freshness of surfaces (including originality) and marketability.

Feigenbaum continued, “The Company is a fresh start for us in creating what we hope will be an ideal certification service designed specifically for collector submissions. We are not looking for bulk submitters in the trade. At David Lawrence Rare Coins, we’ve had the good fortune to deal personally with thousands of collectors for nearly 30 years…and DGS is a great opportunity to bring that experience to the forefront as we deliver top-level customer service and conservative grading standards. We also want to personalize the relationship by adding innovative services, the same way we’ve done at David Lawrence and DLRC Auctions.”

DGS is currently in the final stages of preparing software for processing orders. Submissions are currently being accepted but grading will not start officially until May 1. Orders will be processed in the order received. (more…)