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All Posts Tagged With: "Coin Grading"

NGC Certifies Historic Cache of Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles

These coins were part of a family’s possessions during World War II exile and remained together for more than 65 years.

NGC has certified a very interesting group of Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles that have remained in the possession of a family since prior to World War II. When purchased in Europe last month, their unusual history was revealed to the buyer. During the turbulent period prior to World War II, these coins were a trove meant to sustain a family through the worst possible situation.

Just subsequent to the Nazi invasion of this family’s home country in 1940, each of these coins was sewn into the lining of a leather coat. With great risk, they were spirited out to a safe-haven neutral country, where they have been kept ever since.

According to the gold buyer, who relayed the history of these coins to NGC, the family in possession of the coins elected to sell them this year because gold had risen to record price levels. The group of 200 coins has been encapsulated with the pedigree WWII EXILE HOARD.

While other US gold coins come from caches with similar histories, several features contribute to the significance of this group. When they arrived at NGC, many of the coins still had bits of leather still adhering to the coins’ rims.

At the submitter’s request, professionals at Numismatic Conservation Services expertly removed the leather so that the coins would be eligible for certification. Their unconventional storage imparted a number of the coins with a delicate reddish patina that was left untouched during conservation.

Another unusual feature is the uniformly high grade of these coins. Each graded from MS 63 to MS 67, with seven coins achieving this highest grade and a greater number grading each MS 66 and MS 66+. All are dated 1924 and 1925, with over three-quarters being from the latter date.

Scott Travers’ ‘Survival Manual’ Now Available in Seventh Edition

(New York, NY) – Gold and grading share the spotlight in The Coin Collector’s Survival Manual, Seventh Edition, the just-released latest edition of the perennial hobby bestseller by award-winning author Scott A. Travers. Published by Random House, this thoroughly updated 400-page book also contains two new and timely fact-filled chapters; one on buying and selling gold coins and other precious metal items, the other on recent innovations in coin grading.

With gold scaling record-high price levels, Travers examines the impact the precious metals boom is having on the rare coin market. Citing one expert’s prediction that gold might soar to $10,000 an ounce, he shows why this is not far-fetched. A new section of the book looks at possible negative effects for collectors and dealers if burdensome IRS 1099 reporting requirements are not changed before their scheduled implementation in 2012.

Travers also provides pointers on how to avoid being victimized when buying or selling valuables containing precious metal, and goes behind the scenes to show in detail how buyers determine the value of gold and silver in items they buy from the public. Travers reveals insider secrets for getting the most money when selling gold and silver coins, jewelry or “scrap.”

He cautions that high-profile gold buyers who advertise extensively often pay rock-bottom prices, “luring cash-starved victims with slick TV commercials or eye-catching newspaper ads promising ‘top dollar’ for the gold that’s sitting idle in their jewelry boxes or drawers.”

A new chapter titled “A Grade Leap Forward” explores what Travers calls “the new math of coin grading” – the enhancement made possible in early 2010 when the Professional Coin Grading Service introduced its PCGS Secure Plus™ system and added intermediate “plus” (+) designations to coins at the high end of their grade level. The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America (NGC) soon began offering similar grading.

Exclusive first-time photographs show the differences between “regular” and “plus” grades.

Travers also explains how Secure Plus™ combats coin “doctoring” and shares insiders’ tips on how to get the greatest value when buying and selling PCGS and NGC plus-grade coins.

Hundreds of never-before-published digitized coin images give readers a clear look at subtle grading nuances and ways to detect altered coins. In a beefed-up color section, surprising photos reveal how the same coin was given different grades by leading services. It also shows examples of difficult-to-detect doctored and altered coins, plus endangered coins rescued from harm’s way through proper conservation.

Exclusive color photographs pinpoint how to distinguish between Morgan dollars and Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles that are Mint State-65 and Mint State 65+ — a small difference in grade that can make a significant difference in marketplace value. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The PCGS SecurePlus Program, Part 2: Reform

News and Analysis on scarce coins, coin markets, and the collecting community #29

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I explain the PCGS SecurePlus program in part 1. Here in part 2, Don Willis, the president of the PCGS, responds to the explanation that I put forth in part 1, and I argue, with assistance from expert dealers, that the PCGS SecurePlus™ program should be reformed, not by reformulating the program, but by preventing dealers from submitting rare coins through the old “standard” process. The positions of John Albanese, Ira Goldberg and Mark Feld are featured.

I devoted last Wednesday’s column to an explanation because I have found that many collectors and dealers do not really understand the PCGS SecurePlus™ program. For details of the PCGS SecurePlus™ program, and a discussion of its importance, please read part 1.

IV. Don Willis Responds

Don Willis has been the president of the PCGS since Oct. 2008. I knew him before then, when he was a coin dealer. Earlier, he had a very successful career in the field of information technology, including the founding of a large software company. I have found Don to be honest, willing to address controversial issues, and very concerned about the well being of collectors.

Willis graciously responds to the points put forth in last week’s column and to questions I asked. Fortunately, Don found my explanation last week as to how grading procedures under the SecurePlus program differ from standard PCGS procedures to be “correct.”

“Today, in its early stages,” Willis says, “SecurePlus is being driven by the collector community.” My (this writer’s) impression is that many collectors do not know or do not understand the benefits of the SecurePlus program. Moreover, not all collectors are familiar with the problems of grade-inflation and coin doctoring. Besides, the dealers who submit many coins to the PCGS are typically wholesalers, not dealers who sell directly to collectors. It would be illogical for the SecurePlus program to be steered by collector demands and collector feedback.

Willis continues, “We have seen many finest known and top quality sets submitted for SecurePlus grading.” I (this writer) find that this is certainly true. Several sets in the Simpson collection come to mind. “Most of these sets remain with their original owners and off the market,” Willis states. “One exception would be Dr. Steven Duckor’s set of Barber Half Dollars which were submitted through SecurePlus and later sold at auction for record breaking prices.”

Dr. Duckor is a strong supporter of the SecurePlus program. Please see his remarks in my June 2nd column. (As always, clickable links are in blue.) Further, I wrote two articles on Dr. Duckor’s halves (part 1, part 2). Also, I mention more of his halves in my column of Aug. 4th.

As Willis says, Duckor’s halves sold for extremely strong prices at auction and many auction records were then set. It is not clear, though, to what extent PCGS Secure holders (as opposed to regular PCGS holders) played a role in the prices realized. Dr. Duckor is one of the leading living collectors, and he is certainly one of the most sophisticated collectors of all time. For a Barber Half Dollar, or an early 20th century gold coin, a Duckor pedigree often adds considerable value.

The SecurePlus program should not only be for the benefit of those advanced, knowledgeable collectors who understand the program. “SecurePlus is only six months old,” Willis replies. “Currently all coins valued over $100,000 must go through SecurePlus. This will change in the future as the market dictates.” Willis figures that “the pace of SecurePlus submissions and the expansion of SecurePlus services will be determined by collector demand just as original PCGS submissions were back in 1986.” (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The PCGS SecurePlus Program, Part 1: An Explanation

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #28

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

On March 25, 2010, David Hall and Don Willis, the top officials at the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), announced and explained the PCGS SecurePlus™ program, known for weeks before as “The Big One”! For most grades between EF-45 and MS-68 inclusive, the PCGS begin assigning plus grades when warranted, such as 45+ or 63+. As the rival of the PCGS, the NGC, incorporated plus grades into their system two months afterwards, and the PCGS later allowed for standard submissions to be eligible for plus grades, not just coins submitted via the SecurePlus tier, plus grades now seem to be a secondary aspect of the program. In my view, the emphasis should always have been, as it is now, on the ‘Secure’ aspects of the SecurePlus program, which are truly revolutionary and have tremendous implications for the future of markets in rare coins.

I hope that those who are not entirely familiar with the PCGS SecurePlus program find this column (part 1) to be very clear and educational. In my opinion, the explanation of the PCGS SecurePlus program on the PCGS website is not extremely clear and, over the past six months, I have found that many collectors are confused about this program.

Collectors who are already very familiar with the PCGS SecurePlus program, and with PCGS policies in general, may wish to wait for part 2, next week. In part 2, Don Willis, the president of PCGS, responds to my explanation and a proposal for the reform of PCGS submission policies is put forth. The views of John Albanese, Mark Feld and Ira Goldberg are included.

In the first section, I provide a definition of the SecurePlus program. In the second section, I explain the benefits of the coin identification part of the SecurePlus program. In Section III, I emphasize that submitters of coins to be graded by the PCGS may choose between the SecurePlus program and standard submission options.

I. The PCGS SecurePlus Program

The SecurePlus program brings three new technologies to coin grading. (1) The introduction of a new technology for scanning and coin identification, through the use of CoinAnalyzer devices that are produced by Richard Haddock’s CoinSecure firm. An image and data from each scanned coin is entered into a database, and, if the same coin is scanned at the PCGS in the future, it will be identified as a coin that was previously scanned.

(2) The use of ‘Sniffer’ technology to detect added foreign substances and changes in the surfaces, the metal, on coins that have been deliberately harmed by coin doctors for the purpose of deceiving experts and others into believing that doctored coins merit higher grades than were (or would have been) assigned before such coins are doctored. Additionally, the adding of metal to the surfaces and/or the deliberate heating of the metal on the surfaces of a coin will, hopefully, be detectable by ‘coin sniffer’ technology as well. The PCGS has already begun using ‘sniffer’ technology to an extent, and will be phasing additional sniffer applications into the PCGS SecurePlus grading program over time. I will devote a future piece to coin sniffer technology. The subject is so complicated that it must really be treated in a long article.

To gain some understanding of coin doctoring and the urgent need to contain the coin doctoring problem, please read five previous pieces of mine. Last year, I devoted a series of three articles to the reasons why naturally toned coins are preferred and the topic of coin doctoring is discussed at length therein (part 1, part 2 and part 3). This year, I wrote two columns that address the PCGS lawsuit against alleged coin doctors, on June 3rd and on Sept. 8th. In these two columns, coin doctoring is defined, the lawsuit is analyzed, and the seriousness of the matter is emphasized.

(3) The third ‘Security’ issue relating to the PCGS SecurePlus program is the anti-counterfeiting technology incorporated into the new inserts. In each PCGS holder, there is a paper insert that provides information about the coin contained therein. A gold eagle with a shield is pictured on an insert in the PCGS holder that houses each coin that has been graded under the PCGS SecurePlus program. Unethical businesses in China have produced forgeries of PCGS holders with misleading grades printed on fake inserts. New anti-counterfeiting features are important, though less so than the coin identification and sniffer technologies that constitute the core of the PCGS SecurePlus program. (more…)

What Gold Coins Do CAC Stickers Add the Most Value to?

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

After two+ years of being traded on the open market, I think few collectors and dealers would argue the statement that CAC stickering has added considerable value and liquidity to many types of United States gold coinage. But are we now able to determine with a decent degree of accuracy which coins are most affected by a CAC (or the absence of a sticker)? Let’s take a look at some areas of the gold coin market and see how CAC is adding value.

One of the areas that CAC has added the greatest amount of value is in the St. Gaudens double eagle market. The impact is seen two ways. The first is with common “generic” issues in MS65 and MS66. One of the main reasons why the premium for non-CAC certified MS65 Saints is so low when compared to MS64 coins is that most of the coins in MS65 holders are not significantly better than those graded MS64.

What CAC has done is to identify those coins graded MS65 that are nice quality and which are “real” 65’s. Currently, non-CAC Saints in MS65 trade for around $2,300. Those with CAC stickers are worth at least 10-15% more. They are also quite liquid and can be sold even when dealers have extensive numbers of non-CAC coins in stock. Non-CAC MS66 Saints are currently worth around $2,750-2,850 per coin. The premium for MS66 Saints with CAC stickers is at least $750-1,000 per coin. Given the fact that the stickered MS66 coins I have seen are very nice (as compared with the non-stickered coins which range from inferior for the grade to decent) this premium makes sense.

Another area where CAC stickered coins are selling for a significant premium is in the better date Saint market. Let me pick a random issue: the 1927-S in MS64. This coin has a current bid of $70,000 in this grade and a bona-fide Gem is worth double this. The quality of 1927-S double eagles varies greatly and there are coins that are very low end and hard to sell for $55,000 and coins that are very high end and worth over bid. I can’t recall having ever seen a 1927-S in MS64 with a CAC sticker but if I had a PCGS/CAC coin that I liked I’d quote $75,000+.

Early gold (i.e. gold coins struck from 1795 to 1834) is area that has shown itself to be influenced by CAC stickers. I don’t like every single piece of CAC-stickered early gold that I see but I like at least 90% of the coins. Compare this to non-CAC early gold where probably 50-60% (or more) of the coins offered at auction or through dealer’s websites are not, in my opinion, nice for the grade. I find this to be especially true with early gold in the MS63 and MS64 grades. As an example, an 1812 half eagle in MS64 with a CAC sticker is currently worth around $40,000. The same coin in the same grade that is not stickered and which is not a CAC-quality coin, in my opinion, might be hard to sell for $32,500. More and more collectors of coins like this are demanding that they be CAC stickered and the premium for the pieces that have the Green Bean is at least 10-15% and climbing.

Because so many Proof gold coins have been doctored over the years, CAC-stickered pieces are currently garnering high premiums. This is more so with Matte Proofs than Brilliant Proofs. I can’t remember seeing more than a few Matte Proof gold coins in the last two years that weren’t doctored to the point that they weren’t even the right color. When the few remaining fresh pieces come onto the market, they realize strong prices. As an example, Stack’s just sold at auction a lovely 1913 Matte Proof gold set. All four coins were CAC stickered and all four brought exceptional prices. I see similarly graded washed-out NGC Matte Proof gold from time to time and it brings Greysheet prices or lower; these superb, vibrant Gems brought numbers that were way over “sheet.” (more…)

Opinion: Laura Sperber’s Hot Topics – SO WHATS (NOT) NEW?

By Laura Sperber – Hot Topics

MY HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED!

NOT! I can not believe how lethargic and pathetic the leadership of the coin business has become. PCGS launched their lawsuit back in May. Other than scaring the greedy bastards into slowing their dirty deeds-NOT MUCH ELSE HAS HAPPENED. No hobby groups have stood up what so ever and done anything about the situation. The attitude among dealers still seems to that the grading services are there to be abused.

I think its a crime that the best the PNG could do is announce they have a definition of coin doctoring. Whuppie! Did they do anything? Apparently not a damn thing. They are hiding behind the lamest of lame excuses (they are a reactionary, not proactive group). The perpetrators named in the suit got caught (by their own stupidity) still trying to ruin coins yet again recently (the evidence was even posted in Coin World). Even better, at the ANA Show this past summer one of the parties in the suit set up and proudly displayed his PNG banner at his table! What a slap in the face to those of us who do care. I know the PNG’s time has come and gone. They do nothing and are nothing for this coin biz-in MY opinion. Their PNG Days prior to major shows not only have become a show case for the parts of their membership they refuse to punish, they are a complete joke anyway (one must be invited for admission-how arrogant and stupid). I hope the PNG tries to prove me wrong about their total waste and ineffectiveness.

My head hurts from shaking so much after seeing what they are NOT doing! Besides, we all know its not the entire group of PNG dealers who are bad-so where are the innocent ones? You telling me they have little to no powers on these critical issues? Just more of a point about the bad dudes who apparently control that organization. if they wanted too, they could chase after and maybe even prevent coin doctoring-btye clearly choose not too. Looks like I will never have to pay $1,000.00 I promised for anyone the PNG catches and expels for coin doctoring. Yeah PNG, I am grandstanding for attention (NOT)! -at least I am not sitting on the sidelines with rose colored glasses doing nothing about all this!

Its not just them. I have only seen a handful of smaller dealers-the ones who get screwed by the coin docs perpetually stand up and make statements. Where are all the other big shot retailers? Why I am the lone wolf speaking out? But then I guess when you have a coin doc who sits behind your table and who sells you a lot of coins cheap your not going to complain about them. This doesn’t rock the boat culture has to change. Its for the good of the hobby for the long term.

READ THIS AND WEEP

Many people ask me why I do not like so many other dealers. It has nothing to do with them being competition. It has to do with them not caring or worse, they are phonies. One of the problems in today’s coin market place-many of the “newer” dealers just can not grade. That’s right, give them a raw coin out of the holder and they are clueless. Sadly, they have the best web sites and act like they are kings and hook the public. They are just one more means keep to the coin doctors longevity going. These unqualified dealers certainly are not going to be involved in stopping the coin docs. But we can make them change since they are too dumb to know what to do. Yet again, I call for more public scrutiny of dealers. (more…)

Coin Grading in Paris, PCGS Grading Week a Big Success

Next Grading Week Event Will Be October 25 – 29, 2010

PCGS Authorized Dealers from across Europe eagerly attended another successful Grading Week conducted at the Paris, France offices of Professional Coin Grading Service, September 13 – 17, 2010.

Photo: Don Willis, Fabrice Walther, David Hall

PCGS Co-Founder and Collectors Universe President David Hall personally met with the attendees to talk about the current rare coin marketplace in Europe, the importance of third-party grading, and the next scheduled Paris Grading Week, October 25 – 29, 2010. “There is a thriving market for world coins in Europe and there are a lot of U.S. gold coins still in Europe. Paris is the center of the European coin market. There are dozens of dealers there and a ton of activity,”

“Certified grading is starting to be accepted in Europe. Many dealers and collectors are beginning to see the advantages of third-party certification and are quite enthusiastic about the new PCGS grading office in Paris. said Hall.

“There were many outstanding coins submitted, including an amazing collection of high-grade Greek coins and several hundred Brittany coins,” said Don Willis, President of PCGS, a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT).

Dealer Takis Syvridakis of Collector’s Shop International in Athens, Greece, who submitted a 1901 (Creta) 2 Drachmas that was graded PCGS MS64, said: “My client was more than pleased with such a grade and he promised to continue to send his collection to PCGS for grading.”

Syvridakis was also pleased to meet Collectors Universe President and PCGS Co-Founder David Hall in person in Paris.

“I was very impressed with his enthusiasm, his honesty, his knowledge and his visions on the coin market. He was very helpful with my collection, gave me great ideas for my business and many solutions to offer to my clients. I was very glad to meet him in person and felt quite privileged.”

Jonathan Fhal of Godots et Fils in Paris agreed: “We were very happy to get the opportunity to actually meet Monsieur David Hall. He had great advice and, indeed, guided us all along the process of selecting the coins which we should grade or not.”

Laurent Fabre of Monnaie d’Antan in Poses, France submitted over 200 Brittany coins from the prestigious collection of collector Alexis Bigot for an upcoming auction (www.catalogues.monnaisedantan.com/vso8) including an 1861 Napoléon III 5 Francs that was graded PCGS MS65. He described it as “certainly the most beautiful known today.”

PCGS Authorized Dealer Fabrice Walther of Numisaisne in Paris brought in for authentication and grading a large quantity of important rare coins he is offering in the upcoming Salon de Brogniart Paris show on October 16, 2010. PCGS will participate in that show.

“We’re now also eagerly looking forward to attending the big Coinex show in London, October 1 and 2, and the Warsaw Coinexpo in Poland, October 14 and 15, and, of course, hosting the next PCGS Paris Grading Week, October 25 to 29,” said Muriel Eymery, Manager of the Paris office and PCGS Director of International Business Development.
For a list of PCGS Authorized Dealers in the EU, visit www.PCGS.com/dealers and click on the map to locate your country.

To make an appointment for PCGS’ next grading sessions or to obtain more information, EU dealers can contact the Paris office at info@PCGSglobal.com or by calling Muriel Eymery at 33 (0) 1 40 20 09 94. Additional information on PCGS is available in English and other languages at www.PCGSglobal.com.

ESM Collection of Early Proof Copper Coins To Be Displayed at Long Beach Coin Show by PCGS

Professional Coin Grading Service (www.PCGS.com) will provide on-site authentication and grading services and showcase the first West Coast public display of the acclaimed, award-winning ESM Collection of early proof copper coins during the Long Beach Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Expo, September 23 – 25, 2010.

PCGS will accept Show Service submissions starting with dealer set-up on Wednesday, September 22 through 5 p.m. Friday, September 24. All other submission levels, excluding bulk, will be accepted through mid-afternoon on Saturday, September 25.

In addition to viewing the coins from the ESM Collection, visitors to the PCGS booth (#807) can Meet the Expert with PCGS Co-Founder David Hall, and have their coins personally examined by him from 2 to 3 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.

Assembled by Illinois collector Pete Miller, the ESM Collection ranks among the all-time finest of its kind in several PCGS Set RegistrySM categories with some of the finest known proof Half Cents, Large Cents, Indian Head Cents and matte proof Lincoln Cents. The weighted Grade Point Average for the collection is an astounding 65.974.

“This amazing treasure of early proof copper certainly was one of the highlights of the recent ANA World’s Fair of Money in Boston when it was displayed at the PCGS booth. Now West Coast collectors and dealers will have an opportunity to see these coins in person in Long Beach,” said Don Willis, PCGS President.

An informative, illustrated brochure about the ESM Collection will be available free at the PCGS booth while supplies last.

The following show specials will be available in Long Beach to PCGS Authorized Dealers and members of the PCGS Collectors Club:

* Walkthrough: one-day turnaround for $100 ($125 for Secure Plus) on any coin with a maximum value of $100,000
* Show Economy: $65 per coin for U.S. and world coins valued up to $3,000 each with a minimum submission of five coins
* Show Gold: $45 per coin ($55 for Secure Plus) for any U.S. gold coin valued up to $3,000 each with a minimum submission of ten coins.

Customer Service representatives will be at the PCGS booth to answer questions and accept submissions. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see demonstrations of the convenient PCGS Photograde™ Online applications for the Apple iPhone™ and Apple iPad™.

“Aside from our PCGS Members Only Show at The Venetian in Las Vegas, September 9 – 11, this will be the only opportunity in September for collectors and dealers to take advantage of PCGS on-site grading services at a national show. We will not be attending the Whitman Philadelphia show scheduled for the week after Long Beach,” said Willis. (more…)

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.

Prooflike 1857-S Double Eagle Gold Coins from the Shipwreck of the S. S. Central America

by Greg Reynolds

In 1987, there was the greatest discovery of a shipwreck relating to the history of the United States. Yes, other shipwrecks may be especially important to the history of Spain and Latin America. The loss of the S.S. Central America in Sept. 1857, however, had an impact on the history of the United States. Although a recession had already started in 1856, and a major insurance company failed in August 1857, the loss of this ship caused upheaval in financial markets and exacerbated the “Panic of 1857.”

The Library of Congress website reveals that the S. S. Central America “had aboard 581 persons, many carrying great personal wealth, and more than $1 million in commercial gold. [This ship] also bore a secret shipment of 15 tons of federal gold, valued at $20 per ounce, intended for the Eastern banks”. In this context, the Library of Congress website cites several pertinent, recognized 19th century books and other contemporary sources. “As banking institutions of the day dealt in specie (gold and silver coins instead of paper money) the loss of some thirty thousand pounds of gold reverberated through the financial community.” In October, many banks suffered terribly or failed altogether. There were ‘runs’ on many banks by depositors.

The crisis reached its worse point on Oct. 14, about a month after the sinking of the S. S. Central America, which was “Suspension Day, when banking was suspended in New York and throughout New England [http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/aug24.html.” The U.S. economy did not fully recover for years.

In the wreckage of the S. S. Central America, there were thousands of 1857-S Double Eagles ($20 gold coins), which were very scarce before the salvaging of the S.S. Central America. Of all the Double Eagles found in the wreckage, however, only fifty were designated as being Prooflike, and only seven as Deep Mirror Prooflike, by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). In late 1999 and/or early 2000, the PCGS certified and graded most of the coins found in this shipwreck. As far as I know, these fifty-seven PCGS certified 1857-S Double Eagles and one NGC certified 1858-S Double Eagle coins are the only reliably certified, Prooflike gold coins from the early years of the San Francisco Mint, which formally began striking coins in 1854.

I. The Rarity of Type One Prooflike Double Eagles

The 1857-S Double Eagles that the PCGS has designated as Prooflike are unusual in that it is generally the policy of the Professional Coin Grading Service to not designate gold coins as being ‘Prooflike.’ In a Dec. 2000 Christie’s auction, it is stated that a PCGS certified ‘MS-65 PL’ 1857-S is “Tied with two others for finest of 50 PL examples from the S.S. Central America treasure certified by PCGS.” According to the Christie’s cataloguer, who is an expert regarding the histories of coins found on shipwrecks, nineteen 1857-S Double Eagles are (or then were) PCGS certified as ‘MS-64 PL.’

Sources indicate just seven of the S. S. Central America 1857-S Double Eagles were designated as Deep Mirror Prooflike (DMPL) by the PCGS. The NGC has not designated any 1857-S Double Eagles as PL or DMPL. Before the finding of the wreck of the S. S. Central America, it is likely that no Prooflike 1957-S Double Eagles were known to exist. Furthermore, probably all (or almost all) of these certified Prooflike 1857-S Double Eagles are in PCGS holders with their respective original gold foil inserts (labels) that were specially designed for coins found in the wreck of the S.S. Central America. Therefore, it seems that there exist fifty-seven Prooflike (PL) or Deep Mirror Prooflike (DMPL) 1857-S Double Eagles. Only a handful of these have been publicly sold since the initial offerings in 2000 when coins from the S.S. Central America appeared in coin markets. (more…)

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.”

PCGS at Boston ANA: On-Site Grading, Award-Winning Proof Copper on Display

At this year’s American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money convention in Boston held August 10 – 14, visitors will be treated to a number of museum-quality exhibits of historic rare coins. At booth #105, Professional Coin Grading Service will display an amazing numismatic treasure of early proof copper.

PCGS will provide on-site authentication and grading services at the show including show specials for on-site submissions. And booth visitors can enjoy some of the finest known proof Half Cents, Large Cents, Indian Head Cents and matte proof Lincoln Cents from the award-winning ESM Collection.

Assembled by Illinois collector Pete Miller, the ESM Collection ranks among the all-time finest of its kind in several PCGS Set RegistrySM categories, according to BJ Searls, PCGS Set Registry Manager.

“The ESM Collection is a numismatic treat. Many of the coins in this collection are extremely rare and seldom appear on the market. When they do, they are auction highlights,” said Don Willis, President of PCGS, a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDA Q: CLCT).

“It staggers me that these coins could stay in that kind of condition for so long,” Miller exclaimed. “They are all red or close to red. Most are well over 100 years old and they look almost brand new, even colorwise.”

Miller’s “top five” personal favorites are:

* 1832 Large Cent, graded PCGS PR64RD
* 1848 Large Cent, PCGS PR65CA
* 1847 Half Cent, PCGS PR64RD
* 1843 Half Cent, PCGS PR64CA
* 1842 Half Cent, PCGS PR65RD

“The weighted Grade Point Average for the ESM Collection is an astounding 65.974,” Searls explained. “These coins were once owned by such astute collectors as Eliasberg, Naftzger, Norweb, Pittman, Parmelee, Atwater, Garrett, Anderson-Dupont, Byron Reed and others. Pete Miller has graciously arranged with PCGS to display many of the coins in his set in Boston.” (more…)

PCGS’ Paris Office Grand Opening: Dealers Praise Easy Access to Coin Grading

Professional Coin Grading Service successfully opened its European grading center at its Paris, France office on June 7, 2010. Coin dealers from all over Europe visited PCGS in Paris to submit coins for onsite authentication and grading. By the end of the week, PCGS’ numismatic experts had evaluated thousands of rare and modern commemorative coins from French, German, Italian, Greek and British dealers and collectors.

The dealers were extremely pleased with this new, convenient setting. More and more dealers and collectors are recognizing that impartial, third-party grading (evaluation) by PCGS will help their coins realize their true worth in the marketplace. The Paris office finally allows them to benefit from PCGS grading more easily and in a less-costly way.

Michael Creusy of ABC Numismatique in Lyon, France, expressed his appreciation: “Thank you, PCGS, for having made this marvelous grading service so easily available to all Europeans.”

Because of this overwhelmingly positive reaction, PCGS is preparing for an even bigger workload when the grading team returns to Paris. The next big grading week begins on September 13th, 2010.

“By establishing its EU grading center in France, PCGS has eliminated the need for European collectors and dealers to send their coins to the U.S. for grading and authentication. All submissions from within the EU are now made directly to the Paris office through PCGS’ network of EU Authorized dealers,” explained Muriel Eymery, Director of International Business Development at PCGS.

Dr. Josef Fischer of Emporium Hamburg in Hamburg, Germany, shared his opinion: “The PCGS grading in Paris was an excellent experience. It was easy to ship there and we got very quick service; turnaround times are much shorter than shipping to the USA with customs clearance and so on. Grading in Europe will make PCGS better-known and more appealing for European dealers and collectors.”

PCGS President Don Willis is encouraged by the dealers’ responses. “The convenience of a central Paris location makes getting coins authenticated and graded by PCGS easy for EU dealers,” he said. “Coins received on Monday and Tuesday are returned graded on Thursday or Friday of the same week. The dealers appreciate our commitment to serving them.”

Ingram Liberman of The London Coin Company in London, England expressed his approval of PCGS services: “Why have we chosen an American (coin grading) company rather than a British one? The main reason is that PCGS is the most respected of all the coin grading companies in the world and truly impartial. The future is bright for the future of grading.” (more…)

Coin Grading: NGC Certifies Rare S-79 1795 Reeded Edge Liberty Cap Cent

Among early United States cents one of the rarest and most mysterious is Dr. William H. Sheldon’s variety number 79 having a reeded edge, an example of which has just been certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.

Only eight pieces are confirmed to exist, and this one has been off the market for some 30 years. Its last public appearance was in a 1977 auction by the now-defunct Numismatic and Antiquarian Service Corporation of America (NASCA). NGC has graded and encapsulated this remarkable coin as having Fine Details with corrosion.

Aside from its rarity, S-79 is an intriguing variety on several counts. It possesses a reeded edge, the only large cent of any type to have such an edge device. Its obverse is unique to this die marriage, though it is similar in most respects to those of other 1795 cents. Where things really get odd, however, is that this cent variety was coined using a reverse die shared only with several varieties of 1796-dated cents. It was thus almost certainly coined well into that year and possibly as late as 1797. The U. S. Mint is known to have employed dies of earlier dates for as long as they remained serviceable, and this appears to be the case with S-79.

The reason for applying a reeded edge is entirely undocumented. This edge device evidently was used well after the December 1795 order reducing the weight of cents in response to the rising price of copper. The thinner planchets that resulted from this weight reduction precluded usage of the lettered edge device common to some 1793 cents, all those dated 1794 and the early issues dated 1795, which is why most 1795 cents and all 1796 cents have plain edges.

The only comparable instance of an unusual edge device occurs with the two die marriages of 1797-dated cents having “gripped” edges. These show a series of shallow cuts on their edges that were imparted by the edge milling machine. Perhaps they were contemporary with the extremely rare reeded edge cents dated 1795, as the U. S. Mint experimented to find a suitable replacement for edge lettering. Again, no documentation is known which would verify this theory.

The rare S-79 just certified by NGC is a previously-known specimen, though it has not been seen in the marketplace since its last recorded sale in 1977. It appears in fourth place in the condition censuses published by both William C. Noyes (United States Large Cents 1793-1814) and Walter Breen (Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of Early United States Cents 1793-1814, edited by Mark R. Borckardt).

Though the variety was evidently known to collectors as early as 1862, this particular specimen was discovered by famed dealer Henry Chapman and included in his auction of June 1916, where it brought the grand sum of $1.75! It later passed through the collections of several legendary numismatists, including Howard R. Newcomb, Henry C. Hines and Dr. Sheldon himself.

The coin was submitted to NGC by Silvertowne of Winchester, Indiana. Owner David Hendrickson is delighted to be able to handle this great rarity. “It’s such a wonderful experience to come across a coin which has remained extremely rare despite a century and a half of searching by collectors,” Hendrickson said. “We at Silvertowne are proud to become a part of this cent’s distinguished pedigree.”
(more…)

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…)

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.”

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…)

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…)

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…)

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.

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.

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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…)

Certified Acceptance Corp (CAC) to Maintain Strict Coin Grading Standards

Change may be in the air at one or more coin grading services, but dealers, collectors and investors will find business as usual at Certified Acceptance Corp. (CAC).

That’s the company’s message to the hobby in the wake of reports that at least one of the two largest grading services is considering the establishment of “premium-quality” grade designations.

CAC examines and evaluates coins that have been certified by either the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America (NGC). It then affixes a distinctive green sticker to the holder of each coin which, in its judgment, fully merits the grade that was assigned. Each sticker incorporates a tamper-evident hologram.

According to Albanese, CAC will continue to evaluate submissions, and determine whether to award stickers to those coins, strictly in the context of the basic numerical grades assigned by either PCGS or NGC. He said it will disregard any additional descriptive words or symbols.

“We don’t want buyers and sellers to get the impression that by stickering a coin, CAC is confirming someone else’s ‘PQ’ designation,” Albanese said.

CAC makes a market in coins that it has stickered, and its disregard of PQ-type designations will be reflected in its buying and selling prices.

“For example, CAC’s bid price for an 1892-O Barber quarter graded MS65 is $1,150,” Albanese said. “If the coin was graded PQ and had a CAC sticker, our buy price would remain the same – $1,150. If it had a star plus our sticker, we’d still pay $1,150. And if it came with an asterisk or a rainbow or a halo, we’d still pay $1,150 – as long as it had a sticker.”

Since opening for business in late 2007, CAC has received more than 144,000 submissions from member dealers and collectors, and has awarded green stickers to just over 68,000 of these. The declared insurance value of these coins totals about $800 million.

To date, the company has bought and sold CAC-stickered coins with a wholesale trading volume of nearly $150 million.
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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.

Coin Collecting: Condition Rarity vs. Absolute Rarity

by Doug Winter – www.RareGoldCoins.com

In numismatics, there are essentially two types of coins. There are coins that are condition rarities and there are coins that are absolute rarities. A condition rarity is a coin whose value is primarily derived from its high degree of preservation. An absolute rarity is a coin whose rarity is based more on the total number known to exist than its grade. As a long-time participant in the coin market, I tend to prefer coins that are absolute rarities.

dw_condition_rarity_010310Let’s take a look at a few specific coins that easily fall into one of the two categories. Then, let’s take a look at another category (and for my money the most interesting): a coin that is not only an absolute rarity but a condition rarity as well.

Most new collectors buy coins based on condition. This makes sense. They are introduced to coins through mass marketers or they buy modern coins directly from the United States mint. Mass marketers can’t sell absolute rarity for an obvious reason: there isn’t a large enough supply and mass marketing entails selling products on a large scale.

Certain mass marketed coins aren’t strictly condition rarities in the truest sense of the word. A coin that most people would consider to be a condition rarity would be a common date St. Gaudens double eagle in MS65. But this really isn’t the case. A damaged, virtually destroyed Saint has a current market value of around $1,200 while an MS65 is worth $2,500. The 2x value ratio for a Gem is low when compared to the basal value.

A coin that I would consider a classic condition rarity is an Indian Head half eagle. This is a coin that is worth just a bit over $300 in very low grades but over $15,000 in MS65. That’s a 300x value ratio. I appreciate the fact that a true MS65 Indian Head half eagle is a reasonably scarce coin. But I have a hard time attributing this much value to a high grade example, especially based on the fact that the series is not terrifically popular with date collectors. (more…)