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All Posts Tagged With: "coin authentication"

How to Detect Doctored Coins? The PCGS “Coin Sniffer”

The PCGS Coin Sniffer™, a process incorporating advanced technology for detecting foreign materials and other enhancements on a coin’s surface, will be used in two roll-out phases on all PCGS Secure Plus™ submissions with the first step beginning in September or October 2010.

“When our testing and development are completed, the PCGS Coin Sniffer will analyze the surfaces of coins to detect foreign substances, whether they are organic or inorganic materials. We will begin first with organic substances,” said Don Willis, President of PCGS, a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ).

“We are currently testing the detection of organic materials on coin surfaces and will begin incorporating that process on all PCGS Secure Plus submissions this fall. We are still in the development stage of detecting inorganic foreign materials, such as metals. Implementation of the PCGS Coin Sniffer for inorganic materials is planned for early 2011,” he told attendees at the PCGS Set RegistrySM awards luncheon at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Boston on August 13, 2010.

The PCGS Coin Sniffer uses dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDX), Fournier Transform Infra-Red Spectral analysis (FT-IR), Raman Spectroscopy and other analytical techniques to detect the kinds of materials applied by so-called “coin doctors” to conceal problems with a coin or alter its surface to improve its appearance in an attempt to artificially increase the coin’s value.

Commonly used organic materials applied to coins include plastic resins such as Bondo, putty, caulk, wax, lacquer, varnish, acrylics, paint, ink, acetone, glue, and citric acid.

“Some coin doctors have even used soap, eggs, fertilizer, forehead and nose grease and urine,” Wills explained.

FT-IR spectroscopy in the PCGS Coin Sniffer process uses a beam of infra-red light that is reflected off a coin’s surface to detect molecules of foreign substances. Different molecules vibrate at different wave lengths. A complete analysis of a coin’s surface with simultaneous detection of all wave lengths can be completed in less than one minute.

Coins detected with foreign substances are classified by PCGS as “altered surfaces.”

Willis explained that some coin doctors use metals to build up certain areas on a coin’s surface, for example, attempting to create a full head on a Standing Liberty quarter, full split bands on a Winged Liberty/Mercury dime or improving diagnostic high areas. Metallic solutions such as solder, indium, Clorox®, iodine and potassium or potash have been applied to alter a coin’s surface.

Beginning next year, the PCGS Coin Sniffer will use EDX technology to analyze elements of coins on the atomic level. The FT-IR technology that will be implemented this fall analyzes coins on the molecular level. In the EDX process, a high-energy beam of electrons is focused on a coin’s surface. Resultant dispersed energy is measured and the atomic structure is determined.

“It’s similar to scanning with an electron microscope,” said Willis. “Foreign metals as well as metal fatigue due to high heat from a blow torch or laser can be detected.”

Willis also reminded the audience that expanded “plus” (+) grading is now available for all standard submissions and show submissions to PCGS at no additional cost.

Since 1986, PCGS experts have authenticated, graded and certified more than 20 million coins from around the world with a declared value of over $20 billion. For additional information, visit www.PCGS.com or call PCGS Customer Service at (800) 447-8848.

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.”

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).

Controversial 1959-D Lincoln Cent with Wheat Ears Reverse to be Sold at Goldbergs Pre Long Beach Coin Auction

This coin has created quite a bit of controversy in the past, and it’s time the allegations and innuendo get laid to rest. For some reason, the few independent grading services who have examined this coin can’t seem to decide on its genuine status, although no one can define any reason to consider it counterfeit, they also won’t render an opinion to support the coin as a genuine mint product. Hence, the opinions of most remain that no decision can be made on the coin unless further tests are conducted.

The known history of this unique cent begins in 1986. A retired police officer named Leon Baller advertised in his local Walnut Creek, California newspaper that he would purchase rare and unusual coins. A local coin collector saw the ad and contacted Baller about an unusual 1959-D wheat reverse cent that he had found, and Baller soon arranged to meet with him and then purchased the coin for $1,500. Baller sent the coin to the United States Department of the Treasury for authentication in early 1987. Jim Brown, a forensic lab authenticator for the Department of the Treasury examined the coin and found no indication that it was counterfeit. The coin was returned to Baller on February 7, 1986 with a letter signed by Richard M. McDrew, Special Agent for the Department of the Treasury.

The letter states as follows:

“Enclosed is your United States 1¢ coin, dated 1959-D, with wheat reverse. This coin was microscopically examined by our Forensic Services Division in Washington, D.C. and it is their opinion the coin is genuine.”

Baller eventually sold the coin to Heritage Rare Coin Galleries in 1987. The cent was then sold to a private collector where it remained until recently.

The current owner of the coin is a business syndicate whose members’ names have not been disclosed, and their representative is Larry Choate, a Southern California collector. Choate took the bold move in 2002 to resubmit the coin to the Department of the Treasury and Secret Service for a more comprehensive review of the 1959-D wheat cents authenticity. Choate realized that if the coin was considered a counterfeit, it would be seized and destroyed. In addition, Choate took the risk that the coin was produced at the Denver Mint but illegally spirited out, and could be seized on those grounds as well.

Frankly, the Department of the Treasury has a checkered list of such seizures, and only a few coins have been seized over the years. It is important to note here that this coin will not be confiscated as the Treasury Department has returned the coin twice to the owner after reviewing the coin and returning it as genuine. It is also considered legal tender by the Treasury Department.

The most recent and very public seizure was the 1933 double eagle which the Government seized and wanted to destroy in a mindless bureaucratic fashion. Mercifully for collectors, the original owner of the 1933 double eagle was Egypt’s King Farouk, and he obtained an export license which allowed him to take the coin with him out of this country to Egypt. (more…)

Walton 1913 Liberty Nickel stars in TV show “Accidental Fortune” on The Learning Channel

The headline-making authentication of the long-missing Walton specimen 1913 Liberty Head nickel by a team from Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) in 2003 is the subject of an episode in a new program, Accidental Fortune, to be shown on The Learning Channel (TLC) on Sunday, May 2, 2010.

Viewers should check their local listings for the time the program is scheduled to be shown in their community.

The segment will feature interviews with Paul Montgomery, who offered a minimum $1 million reward for the coin in 2003 on behalf of a division of PCGS’s parent company Collectors Universe (NASDAQ: CLCT), and Ryan Givens, nephew of George O. Walton who had an appraisal business based in North Carolina.

Walton was killed in a 1962 car crash and the 1913 Liberty Head nickel was among the many coins recovered from the wreck. When Walton’s estate was settled among his heirs, Givens’ mother – Walton’s sister – received the coin.

Givens lives in the Virginia house where his mother unsuspectingly kept the famous coin in a closet for 41 years after she was incorrectly told in 1962 that it was a fake.

When he made the reward offer, Montgomery, President of the Professional Numismatists Guild, was President of Bowers and Merena Galleries, then owned by Collectors Universe.

The reward was a publicity stunt created by public relations consultant and former American Numismatic Association Governor, Donn Pearlman, as a tie-in to the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Baltimore, Maryland in the summer of 2003. The show was to feature a display with four of the five known 1913 Liberty nickels, the first time they were to be together since the set of five was broken up in 1942.

Givens, his sister Cheryl Myers and her husband, Gary, brought their inherited coin to the ANA’s 2003 Baltimore convention where it was first examined by Montgomery, Mark Borckardt and John Dannreuther. Hours later they joined a team of PCGS experts led by PCGS Co-Founder and Collectors Universe President, David Hall, who examined the coin along with the four other specimens in a secret, midnight authentication meeting held in the security room of the Baltimore Convention Center. They unanimously concurred that the Walton coin was genuine and, indeed, the long-unaccounted-for specimen. (more…)

PCGS Unveils “The Big One” March 25 in Fort Worth

Executives of Professional Coin Grading Service will make their eagerly-anticipated announcement about a revolutionary new service on Thursday, March 25, 2010.

Frequently described in recent months as “The Big One” by PCGS Co-Founder and Collectors Universe President, David Hall, the revelation will be made at 10:30 a.m. in Room 108 of the Fort Worth, Texas Convention Center. The public is invited to attend the announcement and demonstrations to be made by Hall and PCGS President Don Willis on opening day of the American Numismatic Association National Money Show™.

“We will unveil the ‘next step, the new way, The Big One,’ and it’s going to change coin grading for the better,” said Hall who has been offering tantalizing hints about the new PCGS service since last fall.

“We believe this will totally revolutionize the coin grading business,” Willis added.

“When PCGS first started grading coins in 1986, it was the most significant development ever for the protection of the coin collecting public. We will unveil the next giant step in further protecting the consumer.”

Detailed information will be posted on the PCGS web site at about noon, Central Time, on March 25.

A special display showcasing coins from the BRS Legacy Collection of Indian Head Eagles will be exhibited at the PCGS booth, #604, during the show. “This collection ranks as one of the finest, if not the finest, sets of Indian $10 gold ever assembled, and this will be the first time it’s ever been exhibited,” said Willis.

PCGS will offer on-site authentication and grading services at the ANA National Money Show. The three-day event is open to the public, March 25 – 27, at the Fort Worth Convention Center, 1201 Houston St.

For additional information about the ANA National Money Show visit www.NationalMoneyShow.com. For additional information about PCGS, a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT), call (800) 477-8848 or visit online at www.PCGS.com.

ANA Counterfeit Detection Seminar Offered April 22 at MSNS Spring Convention

The one-day seminar, “Introduction to Counterfeit Detection of United States Coins,” will be offered April 22 at the Hyatt Regency Dearborn in Dearborn, Mich. The seminar is presented through the ANA’s Florence Schook School of Numismatics, and is in conjunction with the Michigan State Numismatic Society’s Spring Convention, April 23-25.

Join instructor Mike Ellis, noted numismatist and variety specialist, and learn how to detect counterfeit and altered coins seen in the marketplace today. All types and denominations of U.S. coins will be discussed, with genuine and counterfeit specimens present for hands-on study. There will also be opportunities for group discussion and one-on-one instruction.

“Introduction to Counterfeit Detection of United States Coins” will be held Thursday, April 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuition is $149 for ANA and Michigan State Numismatic Society members, and $199 for non-members. To register for this seminar, e-mail education@money.org or call 719-482-9850.

For more information about the Michigan State Numismatic Society, visit www.michigancoinclub.org.
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Top 12 Rare Coin Buybacks – PCGS Puts its Money Where Its Mouth Is!

The following is from the PCGS website about Updates to the PCGS Guarantee. This is the first time we know of where one of the major grading services has been so forthcoming as to buybacks under their guarantee, and In Our Optinion, PCGS should be commended for its transparency and openness.

pcgs_logo_lg_refFor 24 years we’ve stood behind the service we provide to you not with a money back/fee returned policy if we make a mistake…not with a “we’re sorry, we’ll return your grading fee or give you free grading” policy if we make a mistake…but with an actual cash guarantee for the market value of the coins we grade and authenticate.

They say that talk is cheap and money talks. So when it comes to the validity of the PCGS Grading Guarantee we’ll let the money do the talking. Here are the cold facts about what we’ve done in the past 24 years.

In the past 24 years, PCGS has (as of Dec 1, 2009) graded 18,784,536 coins with a declared value of $19,138,747,536. That’s 18 million coins worth over 19 billion dollars!

In the past 24 years, PCGS has paid out $7,320,437 under the terms of the PCGS Grading Guarantee. When we make a mistake that involves your coins, we pay for our mistake. It’s that simple.

Here are some detailed figures of the money we’ve paid out under the terms of our grading guarantee. The following is the total amount paid in each of the last six calendar years;
2003…$365,525
2004…$222,227
2005…$507,692
2006…$382,384
2007…$562,541
2008…$1,945,755
2009 (thru Dec 1)…$498,798

You’ll note that the cash figures are increasing, but this may be explained by the fact that coins are worth more today than they were in 2003. The huge amount bought back in 2008 was probably a “perfect storm” aberration (January, 2008 was not a good month for PCGS…see below). (more…)