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Category: Coin Grading & Authentication

PNG Praises Efforts to Combat Coin “Doctoring,” Monitors Suit Against Three Members

[ CoinLink News ] The Board of Directors of the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) met in Long Beach, California on June 2, 2010 and issued the following statement.

The Professional Numismatists Guild Board of Directors applauds the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) in its efforts to battle the deceptive practice known as coin “doctoring.” The deliberate, deceitful alteration of a coin can pose an egregious financial consequence to individual collectors, investors, dealers as well as the general public. PNG believes the unconscionable practice of “doctoring” is an enormous detriment to the numismatic marketplace.

We congratulate and support both Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and Professional Coin Grading Service for their diligent work to detect ‘doctored” coins, and encourage both organizations to continue to aggressively combat this assault on the hobby.

“Doctoring” of coins is a definite violation of the PNG Code of Ethics, Section 7, that prohibits members from “knowingly dealing in counterfeit, altered or repaired numismatic items without fully disclosing their status to my customers.” “Doctoring” is also a violation of Section 4 of the PNG Code of Ethics that prohibits “misrepresenting the quality of a coin.”

The PNG Board regrets that three of its member-dealers have been named among the defendants in a Federal Court Complaint filed May 28, 2010 by Collectors Universe, Inc., the parent company of PCGS. The PNG takes allegations such as the ones made by PCGS very seriously. The board will monitor the progress of the complaint and react promptly, appropriately and in accordance with the organization’s bylaws.

Furthermore, in response to the recent influx of fraud related hobby concerns, the PNG board has pledged to revisit, review and update each and every ethical standard adopted by the PNG over the past 55 years. In particular, the board acknowledges the need to clearly define the term “doctoring,” in order to establish an enforceable criterion for its membership. The PNG board is unified in its resolve to nurture and maintain the PNG member-dealers’ standards of excellence through a more proactive posture regarding egregious acts of fraud in the numismatic marketplace.

Founded in 1955, the Professional Numismatists Guild is a nonprofit organization composed of many of the top rare coin and paper money dealers. For additional information, visit online at www.PNGdealers.com or call (760) 728-1300.

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 Coinlink.com 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…)

Commentary: Thoughts on the PCGS Lawsuit Against Coin Doctors

Below is a Hot Topics Article posted on www.LegendCoin.comCoinLink has reproduced it in it’s entirety. This article is the opinion of the author, Laura Sperber.

KUDOS PCGS!

Please, no one pinch me, this is one dream I do not want to end. My sincere congratulations to David Hall and Don Willis for taking the ultimate step in the fight on coin doctors-filing a lawsuit!

For years the situation with coin doctors has only been growing more desperate. The grading services have been fighting them as hard as they could privately. Every time they thought they had a handle, the coin docs just figured out new ways to continue their destruction. This lawsuit is not for glamour, rewards, or a money grab, it was a necessity. PCGS has done the absolute right thing. TO SEE A COPY OF THE SUIT, VISIT www.coinlink.com

LEGEND NUMISMATICS FULLY SUPPORTS THE COMPLAINT AND PLEDGES TO HELP PCGS BECOME VICTORIOUS.

THE DEALER CULTURE

There is a rotten to the core subculture of coin dealers close to these guys who truly believe that it is their right to doctor, recolor, or do whatever they please to coins for a living. These people have little respect and nothing but contempt for the grading services and the public. Its time they learn they are not above the law. I have already spoken to several dealers who making their living cracking out coins. They see no wrong because they do not consider themselves full coin doctors. Much to my shock, they have the attitude that PCGS is wrong and the complaint will be dismissed. WRONG!

Its mind boggling these greedy whores fail to realize is that FRAUD has been committed. One dealer said to me “Its the grading services job to not allow doctored coins to get through”. True. However, it is against the law to try and defraud them by altering the coins they submit. Once this complaint starts progressing, the peripheral players will be exposed. Those are the guys who really have to be sweating right now. They are the ones who quietly sent coins off to these guys to have the work done for them while they look clean. I think you’ll be shocked to see who some of these names are-especially including some well known longtime PNG members. Plus, sooner or later, it probably will be exposed about a few major firms who employ well known coin docs. They will be a tougher fight because they hire them and called them “conservationists or curators”. In the end, they won’t win-the evidence will be too overwhelming.

PCGS has started the fight “right”. They are not just shooting the dark, they gathered the most facts and proof possible then waited for the right opportunity to file the complaint. There never was any secret among major dealers who the real coin doctors are. Dealers like myself were helpless to fight them other than to publicly complain (if you notice few of my fellow dealers ever stood up and spoke out). I could name most docs, I know who a lot of these guys are, however I would have been sued for sure. PCGS can file suit because they have been directly harmed and they have the physical evidence with the proven patterns of deceit these guys followed. It will be interesting to see the defense tactics the defendants will employ. In my opinion, the best they can do will be to deflect and totally deny. Too bad for the docs, facts are facts-no court or jury should rule against a consumer injury by fraud. (more…)

PCGS Announces Coin Sniffer™ Process Enhancement to Secure Plus Coin Grading

The Next Step To Improve And Protect the Coin Collecting Hobby

Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) today revealed additional steps it is taking to improve its ability to detect altered coins. PCGS announced that it has a process in development which will detect any foreign substance on a coin’s surface.

According to PCGS officials, in conjunction with the development of coin recognition technology launched in March of this year, PCGS has been developing a process to detect foreign materials and other enhancements to a coin’s surfaces.

Using energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDX), Fournier Transform Infra-Red Spectral analysis (FT-IR), Raman Spectroscopy and other similar analytical techniques, this detection process (code-named by PCGS, the PCGS Coin Sniffer™) will analyze the surfaces of a coin in a matter of seconds to detect foreign substances and provide quantitative information about the coin.

“Coin doctors” often apply numerous materials to the surfaces of coins to conceal problems with the coin, and/or alter the surfaces to improve its appearance in an attempt to artificially increase its value. The simultaneous alloy determination will further aid in the detection of counterfeits as an additional benefit.

David Hall, cofounder of PCGS and President of its parent company Collectors Universe, Inc. said, “[w]hen we launched PCGS Secure Plus featuring coin recognition technology we stated that it was just a first step in improving grading and battling coin doctoring. The PCGS Coin Sniffer™ is the next significant development in our ongoing efforts. When combined with our existing PCGS Secure Plus service, this new process will make it extremely difficult for altered coins to go undetected.”

“This new process is somewhat similar to what we often see as we are going through security at an airport,” said Don Willis, PCGS President. “We have already filed a patent which covers the methodology and unique techniques we are using for processing coins. The new PCGS Coin Sniffer™ process will be integrated with the help of our partner CoinSecure, Inc into the PCGS Secure Plus service and will be available at no additional cost. Our targeted production implementation is this year, although we will be conducting live testing much before then.”

Federal Lawsuit Filed Against “Coin Doctors” by Collectors Universe / PCGS

Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) today sent out a Press Release  announcing  a major lawsuit has been filed in United States District Court, Central District of California, against six individuals claiming they engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity, breach of contract, conspiracy, unfair competition and fraud for allegedly submitting “doctored” coins to PCGS for grading on multiple occasions for a period of years.

The Defendants named in the suit include: Al Rossman of Nevada, Rick Wesslink of California,  Robert Lehmann of Maryland, in addition to three members of the Professional Numismatists Guild ; Eric Steinberg of Florida, Silvano DiGenova of California, and Greg Krill of California

PCGS stated that as many as 10 other defendants could be added to the Complaint.

The suit claims the dealers violated federal laws, including the Lanham Act involving interstate commerce and RICO racketeering statutes, and also alleges “unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices” for submitting coins that were deceptively altered in an attempt to increase their value.

Click Here to view a Copy of the Complaint

The Complaint states: “Defendants knew that these coins had been ‘doctored,’ by themselves and/or other persons engaged by them for that purpose. Their methods included lasering the surfaces of extremely rare proof gold coins to remove surface imperfections, building up commonly-worn or weakly-struck portions of coins, and other physical and chemical processes. Defendants represented to PCGS that these coins had natural surfaces, intending to deceive PCGS’s graders so that the ‘doctored’ coins would be certified by PCGS and then sold in the rare coin marketplace.”

A couple of examples given in the complaint include the following coins:

  • 1885 $5 gold piece, originally submitted to PCGS on Dec 16, 2009 by Steinberg on behalf of Defendant Rossman. Foreign substance added to coin’s surface to cover marks.
  • 1879 $4 Stella gold piece, Originally submitted by Heritage on May 8, 2008. Resubmitted on August 28, 2008 by DiGenova after having been laser treated to remove lines. PCGS refused to grade the coin.

The suit claims the “Defendants have caused, and are continuing to cause, substantial and irreparable damage and injury to Collectors Universe and to the public and Defendants have benefited from such unlawful conduct and will continue to carry out such unlawful conduct and to be unjustly enriched thereby unless enjoined by this Court.” (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Upcoming LB Auctions, PCGS Secure Plus & NGC Metallurgic Analysis

Coin Rarities & Related Topics #2News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

I. Today’s Theme

Welcome to the second installment of my column. Today’s primary topic is upcoming auctions. A secondary topic is the new policies of the PCGS and the NGC, which I will discuss often in the future. Below, I will put forth a proposal regarding the NGC’s new metallurgic testing program. For an explanation of the purpose and scope of my weekly column, please see last week’s installment.

Yes, I said last week that this year’s Spring auction offerings, in total, pale in contrast to those in the Springs of 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 or 2009. Even so, there are some noteworthy coins being auctioned. Besides, most collector-buyers will hone in on coins of interest to them, without considering market phenomena as a whole. Additionally, prices realized will shed light upon market conditions. I will focus here on the upcoming auctions in Southern California.

At the Beverly Hills Crowne Plaza hotel, in late May and early June, the Goldbergs will auction the Daniel Holmes collection of Middle Date large cents, plus assorted U.S. and World rarities. On May 30, the firm of Bonhams will conduct a coin auction in Los Angeles. The star of the Bonhams event is a 1795 Eagle ($10 gold coin) of the very rare variety with just nine leaves on the branch. (For some explanation, please see my Feb. 2007 article on 1795 Eagles.) In conjunction with the Long Beach Coin, Stamp and Collectible Expo, Heritage will auction a wide variety of numismatic items.

II. Dan Holmes’ Middle Dates

On May 30, the firm of Ira & Larry Goldberg will auction the Dan Holmes collection of U.S. cents that date from 1816 to 1839. The specialty firm of McCawley & Grellman handled the cataloguing. Previously, I reported on Holmes’ Early Date cents, which were auctioned in Sept. 2009. Furthermore, I wrote a series articles about the sale of the late Ted Naftzger’s Middle Dates on Feb. 1, 2009 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Naftzger’s collection of large cents, early dates, middle dates and late dates, is the best of all-time, in almost all categories. No one is expecting Holmes or anyone else to come close to equaling Naftzger’s collecting achievements, which required many decades, intense concentration and some luck.

Holmes’ Middle Date collection includes some exceptional representatives of ‘better dates’ and relatively rarer varieties. In my view, it is a little disappointing. I was expecting it to be of higher quality overall, or, at least, contain better representatives of some of the scarcer dates. Further, I was hoping for some more and better quality Proofs. Indisputably, however, Holmes has one of the five best, currently intact collections of Middle Date large cents, maybe one of the top three. I predict intense bidding competition for the rarer varieties.

Curiously, there are more than a thousand large cent collectors who focus upon die varieties. There are more than twenty-five thousand, though, who collect ‘by date,’ including readily apparent varieties that are collected ‘as if’ these are separate and distinct dates. Holmes has impressive representatives of some of the scarcest dates of the Middle Date type. The 1823, 1823/2 and 1839/6 are probably the only Middle ‘dates’ that are rare, or almost so, though not one of these ‘dates’ is extremely rare. While the “1826/5” may possibly be rare, it is debatable as to whether it is really an overdate. Even if it is so, the difference in the date, versus an 1826 Normal Date issue, is just too subtle to be collected as if it is a distinct date. In my view, even if the 1826/5 is a true overdate, it is just a die variety.

The 1821 large cent issue is very rare in grades of AU-50 or higher. Holmes has five 1821s. The finest he has of the first die variety is PCGS graded AU-58, and is graded AU-50 by Chris McCawley & Bob Grellman, the cataloguers. Holmes’ best representative of the second die variety of this year in large cents is PCGS graded MS-63. McCawley & Grellman grade it as “MS-60+,” which means MS-61 or -62 in standard terms. This 1821 cent was earlier in the Wes Rasmussen collection that Heritage auctioned in Fort Lauderdale in Jan. 2005. (more…)

NGC Launches Plus Designation on Coin Grades

Beginning today,Tuesday, May 25, 2010, all eligible coins submitted to NGC for grading will be reviewed for the Plus Designation (+). NGC assigns a to coins at the high end of their assigned grade, approaching the quality requirements for the next grade. In addition to their superior technical merit, coins receiving a must have above-average eye appeal.

NGC assigns the + only to United States coins issued from 1792 to 1964, and the is available in combination with all grades from XF45 to MS68, inclusive. Coins submitted to NGC under applicable grading tiers including Economy, EarlyBird, Gold Rush, Specialty Gold, Express and WalkThrough tiers are automatically examined for + during grading, and there is no additional fee or special service request.

All coins submitted for on-site grading at tradeshows and other events are also considered for + at time of grading. The first on-site event where NGC will evaluate all coins during grading for the Plus Designation is the Long Beach Coin & Collectibles Expo, where on-site grading will be offered June 2 through June 4, 2010.

Coins already certified by NGC must be submitted for regrade using one of the above mentioned grading tiers to be evaluated for + . Crossover submissions at applicable grading tier levels are also reviewed for + during grading. More detailed information concerning submission requirements and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on NGC’s website at www.ngccoin.com/plus.

“We have been overwhelmed by the flood of support and enthusiasm for the launch of the NGC plus designation. For a number of years, collectors and dealers have wanted NGC to recognize premium quality-grade coins because our unique capabilities allow us to distinguish these differences with accuracy and consistency – providing credibility and consumer confidence to this segment of the market,” comments Mark Salzberg, NGC chairman and grading finalizer. (more…)

PCGS Launches New International Web Site – PCGSGlobal.com

To help accommodate the company’s expanding international presence, Professional Coin Grading Service has launched a new web site, www.PCGSGlobal.com, that allows coin enthusiasts from around the world to view information about PCGS third-party grading and explains in their own local language how to use PCGS’ services.

The launch of PCGSGlobal.com coincides with the recent opening of the new PCGS submission center in Paris, France. A key aspect of the new web site is how it provides the particulars of submitting coins for grading and encapsulation to the Paris submission center through PCGS Authorized Dealers located in the European Union.

“PCGS continues to expand its services to collectors and dealers throughout the world and especially in Europe,” PCGS President Don Willis explained. “Offering access to our web site in multiple languages is just another step forward in that expansion. In the weeks and months ahead we will continue to think globally and act locally.”

PCGSGlobal.com is initially offered in French, English, German, Italian and Polish, representative of some of the most active numismatic communities in Europe. Other languages will be added as the market dictates.

“While not intended as a substitute for the vast content carried on www.pcgs.com, one of the most information-rich web sites in the entire numismatic field, PCGSGlobal.com gives visitors the essentials they need to do business with us,” said Willis.

The Home Page contains information about PCGS, the importance of coin grading, the PCGS Guarantee and PCGS Grading Standard. The site’s menu includes separate pages on PCGS Services, How to Submit, Resources (with links to important PCGS.com pages including online Price Guide and Population Report, Auction Prices Realized and Set RegistrySM), About PCGS and Contact PCGS.

Professional Coin Grading Service is a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT).

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) Certifies 20 Millionth Coin

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), the most-preferred certification and grading company in numismatics, announced today it has reached an unprecedented industry milestone – 20 million coins graded. NGC is the first coin grading company to arrive at this historic number and it underscores NGC’s position as the industry leader and guardian of numismatic interests around the world.

Mark Salzberg, Chairman of NGC, is excited about the 20 million mark but says the company is more thrilled about what the milestone represents. “We would not be here without the support and trust of the numismatic community,” said Salzberg. “We are so grateful to the collectors and dealers who have entrusted their passions and livelihoods with us.”

NGC has played a major role in the rapidly expanding coin industry from the perspective of both collectors and dealers. As an objective third-party coin grading source, NGC has been instrumental in establishing standards for authenticity and condition that contribute to consistent, accurate methods of valuation. This has added a level of confidence and protection to the industry and added liquidity to the collectible coin market. According to Salzberg, the absence of subjective opinion is a key component in the global growth of the coin collecting industry.

Despite a challenging economy, the company’s growth is evident. NGC has received coin submission from 43 different countries. Submissions span 2,600 years in history, including ancient coins from as early as 600 B.C.

NGC certified the single most valuable graded coin ever sold, the finest known USA 1804 $10 gold coin. (pictured above)

Within just the last year, NGC certified the South Africa 1898 Single 9 Pond, the China 1910 Yunnan Dollar, the Russia 1755 Pattern 20 Roubles and the Ecuador 1862 Quito GJ 50 Francos, each among the most important and valuable African, Asian, European and South American coins, respectively.

In addition, auctions of certified coins around the world continue to achieve results at or above expectation, even as other auction genres suffer.

“While 20 million graded coins is a huge accomplishment and we celebrate it, we really are focused on the future,” said Salzberg. “We look forward to continuing to push the industry envelope to develop and implement innovations that benefit not only our loyal customers, but the hobby as a whole.”

For more information on NGC and the benefits of coin grading, visit www.NGCcoin.com

Bienvenue! PCGS Opens Paris Office

The Professional Coin Grading Service (www.PCGS.com) has opened an office in Paris, France as part of the company’s expanding international services. The new facility, physically establishing PCGS’s third-party grading in Europe, already is being praised by several of the European Union’s top numismatists for the convenience it brings to collectors and dealers in EU countries.

“The opening of a PCGS grading center in France is very good news for all European dealers and collectors who can now have their coins graded more easily. The time-consuming and costly exportation of sending them first to the United States, along with customs issues, will soon only be bad memories!” said Eric Palombo of Maison Palombo in Marseilles, France.

“For several years we’ve been successfully increasing our presence in Europe and Asia with participation at major numismatic events and agreements with government mints,” said Don Willis, President of PCGS, a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT). “The establishment of a full-time office in a major European capital now gives us an even greater opportunity to conveniently and efficiently assist EU collectors and dealers with the certification of their coins.”

To expedite services and eliminate the need to send coins to the United States, effective June 1, 2010, all submissions to PCGS from EU countries for grading, re-grading or crossover service will be made through the Paris office. “Grading will be performed on-site on a regular basis. All submissions from the EU to the Paris office must be made through a PCGS Authorized Dealer located in the EU. Submissions are accepted from those dealers by appointment only,” explained Muriel Eymery, Manager of the Paris office and PCGS Director of International Business Development.

Three other prominent dealers also praised the establishment of the Paris office.

Fabrice Walther of Numisaisne Paris stated: “We thank PCGS very much for establishing a presence in Europe, especially in Paris. We are convinced that in the very near future PCGS grading will make the European and world coin markets more dynamic than anybody today could have foreseen.”

Arnaud Fhal of Godot Et Fils in Paris commented: “With PCGS in Paris, French and European coin collectors can finally have easy and secure access to impartial, independent grading and the capacity to know and get the best prices for their coins.”

Jean-Claude Deroche, who represents Panorama Numismatique in Paris and has been a coin dealer for more than 30 years, says he chooses PCGS “for its international capabilities and its grading rigor.” He added: “Bienvenue to PCGS graded coins! The PCGS European setting is most welcomed in Paris. PCGS will further strengthen collectors’ confidence and security and add value to their coins.” (more…)

NGC Launches New Metallurgic Analysis Service for Coins

NGC is introducing a new service line to perform metal composition testing at the submitter’s request. Metallurgic analysis is available for pattern, essay, trial and mint error coins, as well as tokens and medals. The cost of this service is $75 in addition to the NGC grading fee. Coins already certified and encapsulated by NGC can be re-submitted to NGC for metal testing and re-encapsulation for the flat fee of $75.

NGC performs composite surface scans of coins using x-ray fluorescence. While the tests are entirely non-invasive, they do allow NGC to peer beneath surface plating and any contaminants. Methods used by NGC are so gentle, however, that they can even be performed on coins that are still encapsulated. After testing, the results of analysis will appear on the NGC certification label along with the weight of the tested coin. NGC lists the three most abundant non-trace metals present on the coin’s surface.

Metallurgic analysis is performed at NGC’s facility by trained technicians. The turnaround time required for this service is approximately three-days in addition to the standard turnaround time for the accompanying service request. After certification is completed, tested coins are encapsulated in the Scratch-Resistant EdgeView® holder.

“NGC has used metal composition analysis for authentication purposes routinely, but we always believed that there was also a role for it to play in more precise attribution. Certainly this service will be a boon to collectors of pattern coins,” comments Rick Montgomery, NGC President.

NGC CEO, Steve Eichenbaum states that, “This service launch was really predicated on the availability of highly advanced and new technology. At NGC, we take innovation very seriously, and we continue to implement new services whenever we believe that they will meet the needs of collectors and numismatic professionals.”

While the next version of the NGC submission form, coming this summer, will include this service option, NGC is accepting coins for metallurgic analysis immediately. To submit coins for this service, prominently write “METAL COMPOSITION TEST” on the submission form, and include the additional $75 per coin service charge in the fee calculation at the bottom of the form. Coins to be tested should be listed on a separate submission form from coins not being tested. You can always request that multiple submission forms be shipped backed to you together.

Any questions about submission procedures or this new offering can be directed to NGC customer service at service@ngccoin.com or by phone toll-free at 1-800-NGC-COIN (642-2646).

PCGS Announces Winners of 2010 ANA Summer Seminar Scholarships

Three lucky PCGS Set RegistrySM members have been selected to receive scholarships to the popular American Numismatic Association Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs, Colorado this year. The ANA (www.money.org) and the Professional Coin Grading Service (www.PCGS.com) are jointly offering tuition, meals, lodging and airfare for each of the three to attend one of the two week-long Summer Seminar sessions.

The winners, who will be attending an ANA Summer Seminar for the first time, are Christopher Bryan, James M. Bucki Sr. and Gerry Fortin.

“Winners were selected based on their set display and a brief explanation of why they should be selected for a scholarship,” said BJ Searls, Set Registry Manager.

Bryan’s set, known as “Route 66 — Tazman,” is listed under Carson City Morgan Dollars, Circulation Strikes (1878 – 1893), and can be found online.

“Christopher hopes to learn more about coins at Summer Seminar and, in particular, learn how to make the hobby better for everyone. He named his set ‘Route 66’ because he hopes to eventually have all his coins graded Mint State 66. It’s clear from his set description that he loves the hobby. His set now contains five of the highest-graded CC dollars certified by PCGS. Each coin is imaged and described in detail,” explained Searls.

Bucki’s set, named “JMBCoins Jeff Nickel Basic Proof,” is listed under Jefferson Nickels Basic Set, Proof (1965 – present) and is online.

“James is a father of six and is actively involved in the Buffalo, New York Numismatic Association. He’s the Scouting and Youth Coordinator for the club. In addition, he has instructed over 850 Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts on the Coin Collecting Merit Badge. He hopes to pass on to youths in his area what he learns from the ANA seminar. His entry had a great description of his set with detailed information and images for each coin.”

Fortin’s set, “The Gerry Fortin Liberty Seated Dime Collection,” is listed under Liberty Seated Dimes with Major Varieties, Circulation Strikes (1837 – 1891), and is online. (more…)

Legendary 1898 Single 9 Pond South African Coin Certified by NGC

“King of South African Coins”, the unique and historic 1898 Single 9 Pond, sells for a record multi-million rand price and is certified by NGC.

The sale of South Africa’s rarest and most celebrated coin, the 1898 Single 9 Pond, has been concluded for an unprecedented multi-million rand figure. [Editor: $1.00 USD = 7.51133 ZAR]

The sale, like the prior two sales of the same coin, was facilitated by Mr. Walter Fivaz. The buyer, who wishes to remain anonymous, is thrilled to own such an impressive and important part of South Africa’s heritage. The Single 9 has justifiably been dubbed the “King of South African Coins” and is among the most valuable rare coins in the world.

Upon completion of the purchase, the coin was promptly sent to NGC for certification. NGC was selected because of their consistency in grading, their extensive South African numismatic knowledge and the prestige offered by NGC certification. The coin graded MS 63 PL by NGC. The grade of MS 63 identifies it as a choice uncirculated example. Many coins of such illustrious provenance have been mishandled, and fortunately this coin has retained its original surface quality. Additionally, the fields of the coin are mirror-like, indicating that it was struck from freshly polished dies. Accordingly, it has been designated PL, for proof-like, which is assigned to coins that possess some of the special attributes that are often seen on presentation coinage.

“We are very proud to certify such an important and historic coin. Seldom does a coin play so significant a role in cultural history and for many years this coin has been considered the most coveted of all coins struck on the African continent,” commented Ken Krah, NGC vice president, who heads NGC’s world coin grading department.

The details surrounding the creation of the Single 9 Pond form one of the most compelling stories in numismatics. The Single 9 was the first one pound gold coin produced during the Anglo-Boer War between South African and the British Empire in 1899. At that time, the government of the South African Republic sought legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. One of the best ways of doing this was to manufacture their own coins and currency. Since they did not have a facility to produce dies for coinage in South Africa, the government contracted with a mint in Germany to create dies for 1899 coinage. En route from Germany to the Transvaal, the shipment of dies was intercepted and seized by the British. (more…)

Highest Certified 1901-S Barber Quarter Breaks Coin Auction Records and Becomes the Star of a Coin Convention

by Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

On March 4, in Baltimore, B&M auctioned a 1901 San Francisco Mint quarter dollar, which was then PCGS certified “MS-68,” for $327,750, an auction record for a Barber quarter and for any business strike Barber coin. John Brush, acting on behalf of DLRC, was the successful bidder. While bidding, he was talking to John Feigenbaum, the President of DLRC, on the phone.

On March 25, this quarter was featured at the PCGS announcement of the SecurePlusTM program in Fort Worth, and had been regraded “MS-68+.” On March 26, Bill Shamhart negotiated with Feigenbaum to buy this quarter. During the following week, it was CAC approved, and Shamhart placed it in a private collection. Other than the Olsen-Hawn 1913 Liberty Nickel that sold during the FUN Platinum Night event, this is the most ‘talked about’ coin in 2010, so far.

I. This 1901-S sells at Auction and then Privately

Early in 2010, this 1901-S quarter remained in an NGC holder, with an MS-68 grade, and was submitted by B&M to PCGS for consideration as a ‘crossover.’ It did, in fact, ‘cross,’ meaning here that the PCGS also graded it as MS-68.

John Feigenbaum explains that, soon after this 1901-S was auctioned on March 4, the “PCGS was looking for a trophy coin to display during their announcement; so they contacted me to inquire if I would be willing to put this coin in their new holder. I was happy to oblige.” Technically, there is a new SecureShield insert in the same type of holder. This quarter became the first coin to be PCGS graded “MS-68+,” under the new system that allows for ‘+’ grades. On March 25, David Hall included this coin in his presentation, in Fort Worth, at the formal announcement of the SecurePlusTM program.

When PCGS officials contacted Feigenbaum about arranging for this coin to be a showpiece, “there was no discussion of the ‘+’ designation,” Feigenbaum reports, “that was a complete surprise. Frankly, I didn’t even know it was an option.”

On Friday, March 26, at the ANA Convention in Fort Worth, Bill Shamhart, [www.numismaticamericana.com] a New Jersey dealer and CAC consultant, arranged for one of his clients to purchase this 1901-S quarter from Feigenbaum, subject to verification of its grade by the CAC. During the following week, the CAC placed a sticker on the holder, and this quarter thus traded again. The CAC approved the MS-68 grade; the CAC will not accept or reject ‘plus’ grades. Shamhart’s client is a “lifelong collector” who desires American coins of “amazing quality.”

At auction on March 4, the firm of David Lawrence (DLRC) acquired this 1901-S quarter for inventory largely because the firm has specialized in Barber Coinage for more than a quarter century. Barber coins were minted from 1892 to 1916. John Feigenbaum’s deceased father, David Lawrence Feigenbaum, founded DLRC in 1979. David authored three books on Barber coinage, one book on each denomination, dimes, quarters and half dollars. In the late 1990s, father and son co-authored a fourth book that focused on Mint State and Proof Barber coins that were certified by the PCGS and the NGC. DLRC sells Proof, Mint State, AU and circulated Barber coins. (more…)

Paper Money Guaranty to Grade and Encapsulate ANA Bebee Collection

Project Enables ANA to Showcase Collection at Boston Convention

The American Numismatic Association has contracted with its official paper money grader, Paper Money Guaranty, LLC to encapsulate, grade, appraise and provide a complete certification report for the ANA Bebee Collection of Paper Money.

The collection, donated to the ANA Edward C. Rochette Money Museum by Aubrey and Adeline Bebee in 1987, is one of most comprehensive collections of U.S. paper money ever assembled. It features 904 notes including national bank notes from virtually every state and territory and perhaps the finest collection of large-sized notes outside of the Smithsonian Institution.

“This agreement with PMG makes it possible for the ANA to share this fabulous collection with numismatists and paper money aficionados who, otherwise, might never have an opportunity to see the spectacular rarities collected by Aubrey and Adeline Bebee,” said ANA Executive Director Larry Shepherd. “The Bebees entrusted the ANA to protect and preserve their life’s work – but we also know that they hoped this special collection could be shared with the numismatic community. It’s a great feeling to know that we’ll now be able to expand our use of these notes for educational purposes, share them with the numismatic community, and preserve them for future generations.”

“This is such a special collection,” said Glen Jorde, manager of PMG, which along with NGC and NCS serve as the ANA’s official grading and conservation services. “So many of the Bebee specimens are either unique or the finest we’ve ever seen. The national bank note collection, with nearly every state and territory represented, blew me away. And the collection of large-sized U.S. notes is simply one of the finest anywhere outside of the Smithsonian.”

The Bebee collection, displayed on the ANA website , will be encapsulated in time for its inaugural display at the summer ANA World’s Fair of Money in Boston, August 10-14, at the Hynes Convention Center.

Beginning this month, PMG will accurately and safely grade and encapsulate each note into a holder designed for long-term protection. Three PMG graders will examine each of the notes to confirm authenticity, attribution and to render an opinion on its condition. Once graded, each note will be encapsulated along with a certification label. The information will then be recorded in PMG’s data management system and provided to the ANA. The project is scheduled for completion by June 11. (more…)

World Coins – Unique 1928 South Africa 6 Pence Graded by NGC

Certified by NGC is this recently discovered South Africa 6 Pence dated 1928. It is the only known example bearing this date.

The coin was first spotted in an English country auction where it was cataloged with an unusual notation: the coin’s date was not listed in the standard series reference. It was purchased by a dealer who had a strong suspicion about the its origin.

Although he had no doubt about the coin’s authenticity, he sent it first to South Africa, where a number of experts examined the coin, all declaring it genuine. The coin itself, as a unique discovery piece, created a sensation among collectors of South African coins, who marveled that this discovery took over 80 years to occur.

From South Africa, the coin was sent the coin to the United States to be certified and encapsulated by NGC.

The dies for South African coins of this era were manufactured in England and then sent to South Africa for use in coinage production. Mysteriously, six pence dies of this year were not shipped and no pieces dated 1928 were struck in South Africa. Other denominations of coins were produced in that year, however, and it is not certain why the six pence was omitted.

Numismatist believe that the coin was produced in England as a specimen piece.

It has shallow mirrored fields, a crisp strike, as well as squared rims, similar to all South African presentation coinage of this era. It is also struck on a .925 fine silver planchet, while coins struck for circulation in South Africa are only .800 fine. It has a deep amber patina and is remarkably well preserved, evidence that it resided in the possession of a collector since it was struck.

The Effect of Carbon Spots on Copper-Nickel Coins

By Numismatic Conservation Services, LLC (NCS)

The term “carbon spots” refers to tiny black concentrations of corrosion. Oftentimes these are so small as to escape notice by the naked eye, though they may be seen with low-power magnification. Also called “flyspecks” by some in the hobby, these spots are actually slightly raised from the surface of the coin, as the corrosion forms around some particle of organic matter, such as paper dust (often present with coin albums and cardboard “2×2” stapled holders) or human saliva deposited unknowingly by a numismatist during casual handling. Oxygen, humidity, and other atmospheric elements react with the debris to form a minute mound of corrosion around it, and this is called a carbon spot.

Removal of the debris will usually stop the reaction, and thus worsening of the spot, then and there. This may be as simple as removing the offending particle. The resulting corrosion, however, will remain as an unsightly black speck that can range greatly in size from nearly microscopic to as much as a quarter-inch in diameter, depending on how much mass the contaminant possessed and how long the reaction was occurring.

Most often carbon spots will form on the surface of copper or bronze coins. The highly reactive nature of copper as a metal will often lead to their formation, but US copper-nickel coins as well as other copper-nickel coins from around the world are also quite susceptible. Most nickel alloys used for United States coinage are a combination of 75% copper and only 25% nickel. This includes the three- and five-cent pieces made since 1865 and the outer layers of our current dimes, quarters and halves, as well as those of the dollars coined 1971–99. The thick cents dated 1856–64 included 88% copper to only 12% nickel and, given their greater copper content, have an even greater susceptibility to developing carbon spots.

For copper-nickel coins displaying carbon spots, proper conservation can remove both the contaminants and the resulting spots. In some instances a pale ghost of the spot may remain, and removal of carbon spots will usually leave tiny bald patches in a coin’s toning. For these reasons, copper-nickel coins that undergo removal of carbon spots will typically have their toning removed as well during the conservation process. This is preferable to having such eye-catching gaps and is in the best interest of the coin’s long-term preservation.

Win a Full Scholarship and Free Airfare to ANA Summer Seminar!

NGC and the ANA offer three numismatists the experience of a lifetime.

NGC has teamed up with the American Numismatic Association (ANA) to bring three motivated individuals to the numismatic educational event of the summer. Winners of the ANA Summer Seminar Registry Contest will receive full tuition and room and board for one session of the ANA Summer Seminar, courtesy of the ANA. Air travel to Colorado Springs, Colorado, will be provided by NGC. The ANA Summer Seminar is a life-changing event that has catapulted the careers of many of the nation’s most successful numismatic collectors, authors and dealers. It has also been instrumental in shaping young numismatic enthusiasts into respected hobby leaders.

To enter, the collector must be an NGC Registry participant. Each contest applicant should send a self-nominating e-mail to SeminarContest@NGCcoin.com by Friday, April 30. The e-mail should include the collector’s public registry name and a brief description (fewer than 500 words) of how attending Summer Seminar could contribute to his or her experience as a collector. Winners will be selected by the NGC Registry Awards judging panel, based on a combination of Registry Sets and the e-mail provided, on Wednesday, May 5.

“No collectors are more passionate about the hobby than those who participate in the NGC Registry,” said Scott Schechter, vice president of marketing and sales at NGC. “This contest is a phenomenal way to recognize and encourage them. Summer Seminar is the single best learning environment in numismatics, and we are thrilled to work with the ANA to make it available to three collectors who otherwise may not have been able to attend.”

Susan McMillan, ANA education project manager, commented, “We think Summer Seminar is the best education in numismatics. Period. We are very excited to be able to offer NGC Registry members the opportunity to attend this year’s Summer Seminar and hope to be able to offer more such scholarships in the future.”

The ANA Summer Seminar, a hobby destination for 42 years, will feature a lineup of classes to suit virtually every collector’s hobby needs. Mini-seminars will cover topics such as ancients, paper money, Morgan dollars, Lincoln cents, shipwreck coins, commemoratives, and medals and tokens. Seminar attendees can learn to grade coins and detect counterfeits. Most importantly, participants will have the opportunity to meet and converse with the hobby’s most distinguished scholars, rising young stars and successful business leaders.

The Summer Seminar, held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, will consist of two sections, the first from June 26 to July 2, 2010, and the second from July 3 to July 9, 2010. The ANA will provide contest winners with their choice of attendance at either section, plus basic accommodations and meals ($1,000 value). NGC will provide round-trip airfare for each winner. Some classes in each section are already sold out and will not be available. Winners can pay for room upgrades if so desired.

To learn more about the ANA and educational opportunities at Summer Seminar, please visit www.money.org

NGC Instructors at ANA Summer Coin Seminar

The ANA Summer Seminar is called “the best education in numismatics.” Take a look at the courses being taught by NGC experts.

Numismatists from NGC will be present in full force at this year’s ANA Summer Seminar. Now celebrating its 42nd year, Summer Seminar features a lineup of classes to suit virtually every collector’s hobby needs. Whether your interest is ancients, paper money, Colonial Americana, Lincoln cents, shipwreck coins, commemoratives, or medals and tokens, there’s a class or mini-seminar for you. Want to start or grow a business, or learn something about security? There’s a class for you. Students can learn to grade coins and detect counterfeits and, most important, hobnob with the hobby’s most distinguished scholars and successful business leaders.

Classes are held in small groups so everyone can actively participate. You’ll learn not only from instructors who are recognized leaders in their fields, but from the collective experiences of fellow students, who range in age from 13 to 90. And rarely do students or instructors attend just one Summer Seminar. They come back time and time again for the education, friendships and camaraderie.

To learn more about summer seminar, visit the information page on the ANA’s Web site, or download the full course catalog [PDF].

The following courses are instructed by professional numismatists from NGC:

Advanced United States Coin Grading and Problem Coins

This course concentrates on the nuances of high-grade, mint-state and proof coins. Students learn how to distinguish original surfaces from mint-state and circulated coins that have been cleaned or altered, and to identify minute imperfections and color variances that can affect a coin’s grade. Students will learn the methods used by experts, as well as their own strengths and weaknesses. Prerequisite: Successful completion of “Intermediate Grading of United States Coins,” or permission from the instructor, is required. Prospective students must complete a questionnaire before enrollment is confirmed. Each grading class is limited to 21 students. (more…)

PCGS Expands PhotoGrade Online Coin Grading Guide to Apple iPad

The free and convenient PCGS Photograde™ Online coin grading guide (http://www.pcgs.com/photograde) introduced in January has been expanded, and now an Apple iPad™ application is available in addition to an updated Apple iPhone™ application.

More than 1,400 detailed, close-up photo images for 69 types of 18th to 21st century U.S. coin issues in up to 30 different grades are now online.

The iPad app was released simultaneously with the April 3 nationwide marketplace introduction of the iPad.

Collectors, dealers and the general public can use Photograde to easily determine the approximate grades of their U.S. coins by matching them with the high-resolution images from the extensive PCGS Grading Reference Set and other selected coins archived with the PCGS TrueView™ photo service.

“PCGS Photograde Online version 1.2 has 1,450 crystal clear photos, and now includes half cents, large cents, and Capped Bust and Seated Liberty half dimes. We’ve added nine more coin series and expanded to include more images for lower grades,” said Don Willis, President of Professional Coin Grading Service (www.PCGS.com), a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT).

“Photograde is not a substitute for certification and authenticity of grade by PCGS experts, but this enthusiastically accepted online grading guide certainly is a useful, easy-to-use tool for anyone to quickly match up coins to estimate their grades.”

An updated, free version for the iPhone and Apple iPod touch™ now is available online at the Apple iTunes™ App Store along with a version for use on the just-introduced iPad.

“In anticipation of the huge demand for the iPad, we made an app available for the grand opening of the Apple iPad App Store on Saturday, April 3, the first day iPads went on sale nationwide,” said John Nelson, Director of the PCGS Web Applications Group.

Some Thoughts on PCGS’ New Secure Plus Coin Grading Program

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

PCGS recently released the details on their new Secure Plus program. Instead of summarizing it here, I’d suggest that your go to their website and play the video link that will explain their interpretation of the new program. I’d like to share with you some of my thoughts and feelings about it.

You can essentially split this new program down the middle and look at it as two distinct facets. To me, the “Secure” aspect is a no-brainer. In a nutshell, PCGS has basically harnessed the technology that will enable them to make a record of all the coins that are submitted to them under this new program. They claim it will end coin doctoring and stop gradeflation in its tracks.

As someone who has been pretty public in his disgust with coin doctoring for many years, I’m glad that PCGS is instituting this program. By the same token, it seems sad to me that a) this had to happen and b) that it took as long as it did. In some areas of the market, there are barely any “original” coins left. PCGS’ step is sort of like making a decision to preserve Bison in 1937: great idea but a little late in coming.

I have always partially attributed coin doctoring, to some degree at least, on PCGS and NGC. If these services had rewarded originality from the beginning and had been really, truly consistent this would have eliminated a lot of the doctoring that has occurred for the last twenty+ years. In the area that I specialize in, United States gold produced from 1795 to 1900, “bright and shiny” has always trumped “dark and crusty.” The irony here is that, finally, dark and crusty is becoming in style. After decades of coins being dipped, dunked, doctored and debilitated (catchy, no?) the coins with character that many people want are exceptionally hard to find.

While PCGS is not really publicizing this, I think the security aspect will be very important in their future efforts to fight counterfeit coins and holders coming in from China. I can’t possibly imagine that some clever guy in Shanghai isn’t already coming up with remarkably good quality early type coins or better date dollars. All it takes is a good distribution system for these to flood the market and by PCGS making it harder for these coins to make it through, that has to be a big positive. (more…)

The Finest $10 Indian Head Eagle Gold Coin Registry Set: The Simpson Collection

The all-time finest set of Indian Head Eagles was among the first coins certified under the new PCGS Secure Plus (http://www.pcgs.com/secureplus.html) system.

Known as “The Simpson Collection” and now added to the popular PCGS Set RegistrySM, the 32-coin set was assembled with the help of Laura Sperber of Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey.

The set includes 18 of the finest known gem mint condition examples of their date and mint with none graded higher. Eleven of those are unique in their top grade including a 1920-S graded PCGS MS67+, the owner’s personal favorite coin in the set.

The set was displayed at the Professional Coin Grading Service booth during the American Numismatic Association National Money Show™ in Fort Worth, Texas, March 25 – 27, 2010. The revolutionary new PCGS Secure Plus system was formally announced there on the first day of the show by David Hall, PCGS Co-Founder and Collectors Universe, Inc. President, and Don Willis, PCGS President.

“This is the finest $10 Indian set ever assembled,” said David Hall – Co-Founder of PCGS. “The quality and originality of the set are unsurpassed in numismatic history. In my opinion, the 1920-S is the most important $10 Indian in existence.”

The Simpson collection is ranked in the PCGS Set Registry as the All-Time Finest set of gold Indian Head $10 circulation strikes, 1907- 1933 (http://www.pcgs.com/setregistry/alltimeset.aspx?s=71313). It has a weighted grade point average of 66.335 and is 100 percent complete.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better inaugural set to be submitted through PCGS Secure Plus. Thirteen of the coins received the ‘+’ designation. Our entire team was blown away by the quality of these coins,” said Willis. (more…)

Industry Leaders Comment on New PCGS Secure + Coin Grading Announcement

David Lisot, Executive Producer of Coin Television has put together a montage of comments from industry leaders following the PCGS announcement of its New Secure + coin grading service

[iframe http://www.coinlink.com/Video/033110_ana_pcgs.html 544px 395px]


The PCGS Secure Plus process uses laser scanning to help detect coins that have been artificially enhanced since their last certification, combat “gradeflation” and excessive resubmissions of the same coins, and can also be used to help identify recovered stolen coins. Additionally, PCGS graders can now designate deserving, superior-quality coins as “Plus” within their respective grades, an important distinction when there are big differences in value between one grade point and the next.


The following industry professionals are included in this video as follows:

Video used with permission and courtesy of CoinTelevision.com and CoinVideo.com.

Counterfeit Detection: Proof 1885 Liberty Nickel

From the NGC Series on Counterfeit Detection

This newly made fake is certainly deceiving some collectors as we’re seeing it appear in recent submissions. Learn how to identify it!

Genuine 1885 – Click To Enlarge Counterfeit 1885 – Click To Enlarge

Recently this unusual fake, believed to be of new manufacture, has appeared in NGC submissions. Although not particularly deceptive, NGC has received a handful of them.

Our best guess as to why: it’s not a coin that anyone really would expect to be counterfeited. It demonstrates that fakes of just about every issue exist and it’s worthwhile to be vigilant when buying uncertified coins or from an unfamiliar source.

There are obvious clues that identify this 1885 nickel as a fake.

First, the devices (design elements) show a pebbled or rough texture that is unlike that seen on any authentic examples. Knowing the texture of a coin’s surface does require a degree of familiarity with authentic examples, but it can also be the easiest telltale of a fake.

Authentic proof Liberty Nickels have crisp design features and smooth or very, very fine grained devices. Large nooks and crannies visible throughout the design are the hallmarks of this copy. Compare an enlargement of the date area with that of a genuine example — the real coin is on top.

The second giveaway that this coin is bad is the shallowness of its design elements. Note how the Liberty’s ear dissolves into the fields. Same with the hair detail above her temple and at top of her neck.

The shape of these elements will be crisp on an authentic specimen and clearly separate from the fields with a sharp delineation. Other elements of the design are similarly not crisp. Look at the stars. On genuine proofs, the intersecting lines will be clear. Here, the first star is especially weak and the others are rounded and amorphous.

Learning to pick out clues like those mentioned above are a great starting point to spotting fakes.

Top 10 Most Important Coin Grading Tips

By Scott Travers – USGoldExpert.com

With the advent of independent third-party certification, many coin buyers and sellers thought all their grading worries were over.

No longer would they have to scrutinize each coin they bought and sold to determine its level of preservation. No longer would they need to concern themselves with grading pointers, grading tips, grading advice–these mattered now only to the experts at the leading certification services.

From now on, all Mint State-65 coins would be created equal, as long as they got those grades from the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America (NGC) or ANACS.

In short, buyers and sellers no longer would need to think for themselves and exercise their own common sense. This is not entirely true.

Certification services have made–and are continuing to make–tremendous contributions to standardizing and stabilizing coin-grading standards. In the process, they have dramatically reduced the risk that buyers might suffer significant financial loss because they purchased coins that were overgraded.

But certification services aren’t infallible. And though they strive mightily for consistency, they–like the coins they grade–inevitably fall short of total perfection. Some coins graded Mint State-65 by PCGS, NGC or ANACS are indeed better than others; some might even qualify as Mint State-66. Others, by contrast, might get a lower grade if broken out of their holders and resubmitted.

Over a period of time, subtle shifts in standards or in their application can result in the existence of whole groups of coins that are undergraded or overgraded relative to the rest of the coins from a given grading service.

For example, in 1994, David Hall, founder and president of PCGS, admitted on my radio program–a weekly talk show called One-Hour Coin Expert–that during its early years, his company was reluctant to assign the grade of Mint State- or Proof-68. He candidly agreed that a number of the coins graded Mint State- or Proof-67 by PCGS during that early period might well receive a grade of 68 if submitted today. And that could increase their current market value by many thousands of dollars. (more…)

The New PCGS Secure+ and what (it might) mean for the coin business…

By John Feigenbaum – David Lawrence Rare Coins

Well, now that PCGS has made it “Big One” announcement, it’s possible to speculate on how this might affect the coin industry (I used to call it a hobby but I think that ship sailed a long time ago). There’s an awful lot to digest here, but I had the benefits of advance notice of this announcement by Mr. Hall himself and I was able to personally attend the Press Conference at the Ft. Worth ANA National Money Show when the Big One was unveiled publicly.

For starters, if you are not familiar with the “Big One” I recommend that you read/view all about it on the PCGS web site first. This was actually a dual announcement:

1) PCGS is going to start laser-scanning/fingerprinting certain submissions (the submission tier is called “Secure-Plus”, which costs a little more) to make certain these items haven’t already been submitted. If so, the system will allow the graders to compare the coins with images of the same coin to be certain it hadn’t been doctored or altered in any negative manner.

2) Coins submitted in the “Secure Plus” tier are eligible to be examined for a “Plus” grade which is awarded to any coins the graders determine to be in the top 30% of quality in the grade range. Or, as David Hall defines it, the “A” category.

Let’s start with the laser scanning technology. Mr. Hall claims that it was “never PCGS’ intention to grade the same coin 40 times” which is a way upgraders use the system to repeatedly send the same coin in until it finally gets the added benefit of doubt and achieves a higher grade that it typically would get. This ultimately is a cause for “gradeflation” which has long term negative effects on the hobby. The logic also follows that a database of stolen coins that have previously been “fingerprinted” can be marked for future submissions. In the event they ever come back in to PCGS, the coins will be flagged and justice can be served. Apparently one major insurance company is offering a discount for SecurePlus coins thanks to this service.

I love this concept for all the reasons PCGS is brandishing. But it’s flawed… Clearly, from the outset, there is a major loophole (or, chasm) in the service because only coins submitted in the more expensive “Secure Plus” tier are being fingerprinted. So a doctored, or stolen coin, can simply be submitted without the added expense and we’ll never know if it was doctored. Or, what happens if a coin is upgraded via the non-Plus service but later submitted for “crossover” into the “Secure Plus” and PCGS realizes what has happened? Will the buy it off the market? That could be very expensive for them. I directed these inquiries directly to PCGS’ President Don Willis, to which he replied that this is merely the initial launch of the product and they need some time to refine the details. I hope, at a minimum, that they ultimately choose to fingerprint every coin submitted (at least every coin over $500). I think that would benefit PCGS as much as the consumer.

(more…)

Leading Coin Grading Services PCGS & NGC Announce “Plus” Designation

The plus designation, a notation of premium quality, has been announced by NGC and PCGS. The service will be available from NGC beginning in approximately 60-days and launched formally by PCGS on March 25, 2010.

Denoted by a + symbol appearing after the grade, the plus designation indicates that a coin is of superior quality for the grade and that it approaches the next technical grade level. In numismatics, in addition to plus, several terms are used interchangeably to indicate this including premium quality, PQ, and high-end.

Aspects of the service offered by NGC and PCGS are similar. The plus designation applies only to US coins from select classic series, and it is not currently planned to be applied to modern coinage issues. Additionally, it will be used on eligible coins grading from the XF-range up to MS 68. For coins to be evaluated for the plus designation, submitters will have to opt-in to a plus designation review service in addition to the standard grading tier.

After the service launch, in approximately 60-days, coins with the plus designation will receive a point premium in the NGC Registry and be reported in a forthcoming enhancement of the NGC Census. Additionally, price guides and coin trading networks including the Certified Coin Exchange will be supporting the plus designation.

“The coin marketplace has evolved in the nearly 25 years since NGC and PCGS began certifying coins, and this is a very logical progression. We have always been conscious of the variation within grades. By providing this information on the label in the plus format, it is communicated in a simple and direct way that allows these distinctions to be readily understood,” comments NGC Chairman, Mark Salzberg.

PCGS founder David Hall stated, “The reality of the market place is that coins considered high end for the grade are recognized by sophisticated dealers and collectors and such coins are worth a premium in the marketplace. The term plus has been part of the everyday trading and grading lingo for years. For the market’s two leading grading services to recognize this reality and designate these premium coins as part of their grading services is a huge benefit to all participants in the rare coin market.” (more…)

PCGS Announces PCGS Secure Plus™, The Most Important Innovation in the Coin Industry Since the Advent of Third Party Grading.

The Professional Coin Grading Service (www.PCGS.com) has launched PCGS Secure Plus™, a revolutionary new process with high-tech security and scrutiny to increase the confidence of collectors and dealers, and a new certification designation that potentially can increase the value of coins.

The PCGS Secure Plus process uses laser scanning to help detect coins that have been artificially enhanced since their last certification, combat “gradeflation” and excessive resubmissions of the same coins, and can also be used to help identify recovered stolen coins. Additionally, PCGS expert graders can now designate deserving, superior-quality coins as “Plus” within their respective grades, an important distinction when there are big differences in value between one grade point and the next.

Announcement of the unprecedented breakthrough was made by PCGS executives on the opening day at the American Numismatic Association National Money Show™ in Fort Worth, Texas. They explained how the new process of digitally scanning each coin to capture its distinctive characteristics is being integrated into the PCGS grading system and how it helps resolve important issues in the rare coin marketplace by offering:

  • Increased precision and consistency in grading
  • Improved detection of altered coins
  • Less chance of “gradeflation”
  • More likely recovery if a PCGS Secure Plus coin is stolen
  • Increased value of high-end coins within each grade

Developed after years of extensive software and hardware development and testing in partnership with Coinsecure, Inc. of Palo Alto, California, the PCGS Secure Plus service digitally captures a unique “fingerprint” of each coin that is then entered into a permanent data base.

PCGS Secure Plus will introduce a new level of confidence and security in the coin collecting market” said PCGS President Don Willis. “We believe that PCGS Secure Plus addresses several of the leading issues affecting the industry today. PCGS Secure Plus is a patent-pending process wherein a coin is laser scanned, imaged and registered in a permanent data base. Every coin has its own identifying characteristics. Coins are like snowflakes at the micron level; they are very different from each other. If a coin has been previously registered in our system it will be identified whenever it’s again scanned by us, so duplication of coin information will be eliminated. As a result, population reports, condition census and other potentially distorted information will be much more accurate for PCGS Secure Plus coins.”

“The process also can help detect if a previously registered coin has been artificially toned, dipped or processed in some other way in an effort to get a higher grade. Not since PCGS introduced encapsulated third-party grading in 1986 has such an important step been taken to protect the consumer. We believe PCGS Secure Plus will totally revolutionize the coin grading business,” said Willis. (more…)