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All Posts Tagged With: "PCGS"

Unique 1943 Bronze Cents Set To Be Displayed at the FUN Show

The first-ever public display of the one-of-a-kind set of 1943 bronze Lincoln cents from the Denver, Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints will be hosted by Professional Coin Grading Service and Legend Numismatics, Inc. during the first three days of the Florida United Numismatists convention in Tampa, Florida, January 6, 7 and 8, 2011.

The unprecedented exhibit marks the first time the complete set has been included in the PCGS Set RegistrySM. It also marks the fulfillment of a boyhood dream of the collector who owns the coins, Texas business executive Bob R. Simpson, Co-Chairman of the Texas Rangers baseball club.

“A total of nine off-metal World War II-era Lincoln cents from Mr. Simpson’s collection will be displayed at the PCGS booth (#102) at the FUN convention,” said Don Willis, President of PCGS, a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ:). “There’s the unique set of three 1943 bronze-planchet cents, a set of three 1944 cents on zinc-coated steel planchets, and three wartime Lincoln cents erroneously struck on silver planchets apparently intended for the production of dimes.”

Simpson wanted to own a 1943 bronze cent error since he was a teenager, and now owns the only-known 1943-D bronze cent as well as other wrong-planchet, wartime cents. All will be exhibited at FUN.

Zinc-coated steel was used for producing cents in 1943 to conserve copper for other uses during World War II, but a small number of coins were mistakenly struck on bronze planchets left over from 1942. In 1944 the Mint resumed use of copper for cent production using recycled ammunition shell cases; however, a small number were mistakenly struck on zinc-coated steel planchets intended for use only on 1943-dated cents.

“Mr. Simpson is the first collector to ever assemble a complete P-D-S set of bronze-planchet 1943 Lincoln cents,” said Laura Sperber, President of Legend Numismatics. “When he recently saw all three coins together for the first time, he said, ‘This is incredible!’ Now, he’s graciously agreed to publicly display them.”

Sperber said that when he was a youngster, Simpson thought he’d actually found a 1943 copper cent in circulation. “But it was not authentic. He still has that in his desk drawer.”

The unique 1943-D bronze cent was purchased by Simpson in September for a record $1.7 million through Legend Numismatics after four years of negotiations with the coin’s anonymous former owner who donated all the proceeds to charity. It is the highest price ever paid for a United States cent.

“It was always special to buy each coin for this set, and until I had all the coins together I just did not realize how important and unreal this project really was! I’m as excited as any collector can be to see this amazing display,” Sperber said.

“Not only is Mr. Simpson’s Set of Off-Metal Cents the All-Time-Finest, it’s the absolute finest possible given the scarcity of the coins,” said BJ Searls, PCGS Set Registry Manager. “Photos of Mr. Simpson’s 1943 bronze and 1944 steel cents can be viewed online in the PCGS Set Registry for ‘Lincoln Cents Off-Metal Strikes, Circulation Strikes (1943-1944)’. The one-of-a-kind complete set has a weighted grade point average of 62.89.” (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…)

Thoughts on the Simpson Dime Sale

By Jason Feldman – The E-Gobrecht

The Simpson dimes were being broken up. [ Heritage Long Beach Sale #1144] This would be a great opportunity to upgrade dimes in an advanced Seated Dime collection. The big problem was there were so many coins that few buyers would be able to purchase them all and no one did surface who did. Even more amazing are some of the coins left in the collection like a MS66 1844 Dime. Legend (Numismatics) has made available to me so many wonderful dimes that news of this sale created euphoria.

It would come as no surprise that most of the coins were either crossed over to PCGS at the same or in many cases a lower grade. Seeing the secure plus holders and Simpson pedigree would make this obvious. There was a lot bidding research needed prior to bidding. There were cases where buying too many coins early would limit the ability to chase coins later. One the highlights of the sale being a simply gorgeous 1872-S, I was not the only one to think so as the coin went to the moon.

One of my regrets of the sale was not being able to purchase the 1845-O dime in mint state. This is a very rare opportunity indeed but as a rule if you set a maximum bid and exceed it by 10% you have to know to stop. Being the under bidder was really not satisfying and maybe a higher bid was warranted. Another highlight of the sale was a gem 1860-S. Prior to the sale, Laura (of Legend Numismatics) and I spoke as to where the coin would sell. It was another on my short list. I think we both underestimated the demand for this coin. It went far over preauction estimates but I don’t doubt it to be well worth the hammer price $40,250. A nice return on investment considering one sold for roughly $7,000 in 1994.

One of the interesting notes about these coins is how many were not picked up by Seated Dime registry collectors but rather a just collectors and dealers. I know one dealer picked up roughly 10% of the coins and most all have been sold. There were many bargains in this sale too. Mostly the coins following the Simpson dimes went too cheap. One example is an 1858-O is a MS64 PCGS holder population 1 with 8 finer sold for just under $3,000 while the Simpson PCGS MS65 population 7 with one finer soared to $9,200. With the grade covered it was not really possible to call either coin much better than the other.

Some of the real steals in the Simpson collection came in the coins in NGC holders. The obvious assumption is these are coins that on a given day did not cross over at PCGS. A good many of them did regrade at NGC. In the case of the ultra-rare 1853-O MS64 the coin was simply overgraded. The coin did have a wonderful and original look to it but just had too many marks to be graded higher than MS62 in my opinion. The coin could easily be traced back with little effort to its previous holder. In general the ultra high grade trophy coins were the ones hitting the moon. Clearly one of two mint state 1845-O Dimes should be worth more than a other coins that sold in the low $20,000’s. This was a sale where knowledge was king. (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…)

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.

Unique Bronze 1943-D Lincoln Cent Sold for $1.7 Million by Legend

A one-of-a-kind Lincoln penny, mistakenly struck in 1943 at the Denver Mint in bronze rather than the zinc-coated steel used that year to conserve copper for World War II, has been sold by Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey for $1.7 million to an unnamed Southwestern business executive.  The coin’s anonymous former owner made arrangements for the entire sale proceeds to go to a charitable organization.

The only known 1943-dated Lincoln cent mistakenly struck at the Denver Mint on a bronze planchet has been sold for a record $1.7 million by Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey. The unique coin, not publicly known to exist until 1979, is graded PCGS MS64BN.

The new owner is a Southwestern United States business executive who wants to remain anonymous, but who plans to exhibit this coin and others in January at the Florida United Numismatists convention.

He also purchased in the same transaction through Legend a 1944 Philadelphia Mint cent struck on a zinc planchet, graded PCGS MS64, for $250,000, and an experimental 1942 Philadelphia cent mostly composed of tin for $50,000. The unnamed new owner plans to exhibit these coins and others at the Florida United Numismatists convention in January.

(Photo credit: Legend Numismatics.)

“The 1943-D bronze cent is the most valuable cent in the world, and it took four years of aggressive negotiations with the coin’s owner until he agreed to sell it.”

“The new owner is proudly now the only collector to ever own the all-time finest and complete sets of Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco 1943 bronze cents and 1944 steel cents,” said Laura Sperber, President of Legend Numismatics.

“The new owner is a prominent Southwestern business executive who’s been collecting since he was a teenager, searching through pocket change looking for rare coins. As a youngster he thought he’d actually found a 1943 copper cent in circulation but it was not authentic. He still has that in his desk drawer, but now he’s the only person to ever assemble a complete set of genuine 1943 bronze cents, one each from the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco Mints. He will display that set at FUN along with his 1944 Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco zinc cents,” said Sperber.

The anonymous collector who formerly owned the coin “donated it to a charitable organization so they could sell it with all of the proceeds going to the charity,” according to Andy Skrabalak of Angel Dee’s Coins and Collectibles in Woodbridge, Virginia who acted as agent on behalf of the former owner.

“As a specialist in small cents, this transaction is the ultimate accomplishment for me and I’m privileged to be part of it. I don’t think it will ever be duplicated in my lifetime,” said Skrabalak.

Zinc-coated steel was used for producing cents in 1943 to conserve copper for other uses during World War II, but a small number of coins were mistakenly struck on bronze planchets left over from 1942.

“We estimate that less than 20 Lincoln cents were erroneously struck in bronze at the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints in 1943, but this is the only known example from the Denver Mint,” explained Don Willis, President of Professional Coin Grading Service.

Sperber said the collector’s historic, mis-made World War II era cents will be displayed during the first three days of the FUN convention in Tampa, Florida, January 6 – 8, 2011. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: 1856-O Double Eagles and other Great Rarities that I have seen

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #19

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

This week, I wish to focus upon the topic of viewing Great Rarities. This topic relates to several key concepts:

(1) To understand and appreciate Great Rarities, there is a need to see them.

(2) Viewing Great Rarities is important for coin enthusiasts, especially for those who cannot afford them. At a major art museum, most of the people viewing paintings cannot afford to buy such paintings or commensurable ones. They may still learn a great deal by seeing and interpreting works of art. Coin enthusiasts can and should learn about coins and examining Great Rarities is part of a learning process.

(3) Of course, I realize that many coin enthusiasts do not have the time or the resources to travel to view many Great Rarities. I hope that this is a reason, among other reasons, why coin enthusiasts read my columns and articles. Indeed, I hope that readers care about my interpretations of important coins, as I have devoted innumerable hours to viewing, analyzing, and writing about Great Rarities.

(4) I strongly maintain that, to be qualified to analyze coins, there is a need to carefully examine them. Further, to become an expert, there is a need to direct questions to experts, and I often do so. Certainly, viewing coins and asking questions are not the only criteria to qualify someone to analyze Great Rarities. These activities, though, are crucial to attaining knowledge in the field of rare U.S. coins.

(5) Though digital images of coins are sometimes wonderful, and imaging technology, along with its implementations, continues to improve, there is a great deal about many coins that cannot be seen in pictures. It is necessary to view actual coins to understand them. This will always be true.

(6) My comments below regarding many of the Great Rarities that I have seen are not meant to be boastful. Rather, such discussions relate to my qualifications and I wish to share my enthusiasm for Great Rarities with others.

Why discuss the topic of viewing Great Rarities now? While viewing the 1856-O Double Eagle ($20 gold coin) that Heritage will auction in Long Beach, I thought about the number of 1856-O Double Eagles that I have personally examined and then about some recent open discussions among coin enthusiasts regarding the “coolest” coins that each has held in his or her hands. I have seen at least seven different 1856-O Double Eagles.

I. 1856-O $20 Gold Coins

In the official auction for the Sept. Long Beach (CA) Expo, Heritage will offer a recently discovered 1856-O Double Eagle that is NGC graded “EF-45+.” In regards to how circulated, early New Orleans Mint Double Eagles are typically graded by the NGC, the “45+” grade is fair. I must admit, though, that there are several 1856-O Double Eagles that I like more than this one. Even so, this coin is sharply struck for the 1856-O issue and has minimal noticeable contact marks. It may not be easy to find a better one. All 1856-O Double Eagles, which I have seen, have been cleaned and/or dipped at one time or another. Type One (1850-66) Double Eagles have surged in popularity over the last ten years, and prices for rare dates of this type rose dramatically from 2003 to 2008.

“The two key collectible Type One Double Eagles are the 1854-O and the 1856-O. These have appreciated in value more than virtually any other United States gold coin in the last five to seven years,” declared Doug Winter in Oct. 2008.

In 2007, I wrote an article about 1856-O Double Eagles and I then focused upon a PCGS certified 1856-O that B&M auctioned in March 2007. On July 31, 2009, Heritage sold two 1856-O Double Eagles in one Platinum Night event. One of the two very much appealed to me. It is PCGS certified EF-45 and has a CAC sticker of approval. It has nice color and a great overall look. It scores particularly high in the category of originality.

Just weeks earlier, also in Los Angeles County, Heritage sold the special striking, ‘Specimen-63′ 1856-O in the official auction of the Spring 2009 Long Beach Expo. For years, I had dreamed about viewing that coin, and I was not disappointed. It is truly astounding. It is perhaps the most memorable and important of all New Orleans Mint gold coins. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Defining Coin Doctoring and Dipping, Additions to the PCGS Lawsuit Against Alleged Coin Doctors

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #17

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. The filing and re-filing of this lawsuit

Over the last forty years, especially from the late 1990s to 2006 or so, the coin collecting community has suffered from the terrible problem of coin doctoring; coins are deceptively altered for the purpose of tricking experts, particularly those employed by the PCGS and the NGC, into concluding that a coin is of higher quality than it was before it was doctored. The process of doctoring a coin reduces its level of quality and, in many (though not nearly all) cases, permanently damages the coin. Coins ranging in value from less than $50 to more than $1 million have been doctored.

In many instances, doctored coins ‘turn’ at a later time, as unintended byproducts of doctoring processes result in unsightly delayed chemical reactions or the decomposing of added matter on the doctored coins. It is not unusual for a coin doctor to deliberately harm (often permanently) a coin that grades MS-64 in order to try to deceive experts into believing that it grades MS-66.

John Feigenbaum is president of David Lawrence Rare Coins (DLRC), and has been involved in the coin business for more than twenty years. In 2004 and 2005, DLRC sold one of the fifteen greatest collections of classic (pre-1934) U.S. coins ever to be publicly auctioned. Feigenbaum says, “in general I [John] applaud PCGS for taking action on this matter, and I think they should take any and all actions in the future towards parties that are trying to slip doctored coins past them.”

In my column of June 2, I analyzed the CU-PCGS lawsuit against alleged coin doctors, which was filed in late May. I encourage readers who wish to learn about this lawsuit, its importance and its implications, to read my column of June 2nd. On Aug. 10, CU-PCGS filed a “second amended complaint” along with a new motion.

II. The basics of the lawsuit

Although technically PCGS is a subsidiary of Collectors Universe (CU) and it is CU that filed this lawsuit, the PCGS predates CU and the PCGS is the core of Collectors Universe. Further, the PCGS certifies coins. So, it is clear and helpful to refer to the plaintiff as the PCGS as the lawsuit concerns allegations that dealers deliberately submitted doctored coins to the PCGS, without disclosing intentionally added defects, for the purpose of deceiving graders at the PCGS into assigning higher grades to such coins than the coins would have merited before they were doctored. Coin doctoring, of course, reduces the grade of a coin, often to the point where the coin no longer merits a numerical grade.

The submission contract that each dealer signs to be a dealer-submitter of coins to the PCGS for grading and authentication prohibits dealer-submitters from sending in doctored coins for numerical grading. At the very least, it is argued that dealers who submit doctored coins for numerical grading have breached their respective contracts with the PCGS. Moreover, the PCGS argues in the lawsuit that such coin doctoring is in violation of several Federal and California State laws. Curiously, attorneys for the PCGS declare that conspiracies to doctor coins and submit them to the PCGS fall under RICO statutes, and are thus said by the PCGS to constitute racketeering.

Importantly, attorneys for the PCGS argue that coin doctoring is not just a civil offense, a racket and a breach of contract. Attorneys for the PCGS maintain that coin doctoring is a crime under Title “18 U.S.C §331,” which is cited in the lawsuit as follows, “Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales or lightens any of the coins minted at the mints of the United States … [or] … Whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish or sell … any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled or lightened … Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years or both.” (more…)

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…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The rise in the number of collectors of rare U.S. coins and the importance of the PCGS & the NGC

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #15

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

Today’s topic relates to the number of people who collect rare or scarce U.S. coins, and, at least once in a while, spend more than $1000 on a single coin. The number of such collectors has grown tremendously since around 1998.

At various times since Sept. or Oct. 2008, a substantial number of collectors have stopped buying, not because of lack of interest, but rather because of their own personal financial circumstances. After all, in the middle of 2008, a rather severe recession began that negatively affected almost everyone. Further evidence of my point regarding the increase in numbers and in interest of coin collectors is found in the fact that rare U.S. coins went down in value to a much lesser extent than almost all other categories of assets.

There has only been a modest amount of attrition since coin markets peaked during the first seven to eight months of 2008. (Please see my remarks about coin markets in the following articles: O’Neal’s Eagles – Part1, Part 2; Queller’s Patterns; August 2009 Market Report – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3; and my Review of the Jan. 2010 Platinum Night event.)

Why is there is a reason to put forth such points now? After all, I could, and had planned to, write more about the terrific coins that I saw at the ANA Convention in Boston. (Please click to read last week’s column.) Unfortunately, very recently, in a print publication (CW), a widely recognized commentator (QDB) has put forth a theory that most “serious” collectors are well over fifty years old and that the number of coin collectors has not been increasing. This poorly reasoned theory needs to be addressed.

I. Young Adults and Coin Conventions

Without research, it can be logically deduced that most young adult collectors do not have the time to attend many first tier coin conventions or expos. Further, because of the growth of the Internet and other advances in technology, there is less to be gained, than before, by attending major conventions, though I still recommend attending them. If a majority of the collector-buyers at major events, like the ANA and FUN Conventions, are over the age of fifty, this does NOT prove that a majority of collectors who are seriously interested in expensive U.S. coins are over the age of fifty.

It should be obvious that most collectors between the ages of seventeen and fifty just do not have the time to attend ANA or FUN Conventions, or Long Beach Expos. Surely, many young adults in their twenties, thirties and forties, are busy with their careers and/or busy running their own businesses. A lot of people work ten hours a day to further their business or occupational pursuits, especially many of those collectors who spend more than $1000 per coin. It is also true that collectors in their twenties or thirties may be focused on their respective families.

In general, it is unrealistic to expect a thirty-three year old entrepreneur to be staying up at night thinking about locating a Draped Bust, Small Eagle half dollar, completing a set of Three Cent Nickels, or assembling a type set of Proof Liberty Head gold coins. Of course, there is an occasional thirty-three year old, very affluent collector who devotes ten to twenty hours a week to studying coin related materials and to building his coin collection. Clearly, though, few thirty-something collectors will have the time to attend ANA or FUN Conventions. Therefore, QDB and also Doug Winter are correct in that collectors in the fifty to eighty year old range are more likely to engage in BOTH spending on rarities and extensive travel to coin events. It is indisputable, however, that there are many unseen coin collectors in their twenties, thirties and forties. (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.

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…)

Heritage adds CAC Population Data to Rare Coin Auction Archives

A very quick way to measure a coin’s rarity is to look at how many coins of a particular date have been graded by the major grading services. Three figures are key as a rule of thumb in determining rarity:

  • The population of a coin in a particular grade, which shows how difficult the coin might be to replace exactly
  • The population of a coin in all higher grades, which shows how difficult a coin might be to upgrade
  • The population of a coin in all grades, which shows how difficult a coin might be to find at all.

The first two figures above are often written in shorthand. For example, a coin with a population of 100/4 has 100 known in the same grade and four known in higher grades. A coin with a population of 1/0 is the finest known to the grading service that certified it.

One of the features that has long been available on the Heritage Web site listings and archives HA.com/Coins are population reports. PCGS and NGC keep track of every coin they grade, and Heritage is generous enough to post this information, in condensed form, on the web page for every US coin.

Now, Heritage has added the CAC population data to it’s population listings.

As an example, the table you see here covers an 1911-D $20 Saint Gaudens Double Eagle, graded MS65 (in this case by NGC). Under the header “Population”, you can see that the PCGS Population Report shows 1731 1911-D $20 Saints with an MS65 grade, NGC Census figures show 1831 similar coins and CAC has stickered 130.
(more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Bowers & Merena auction, Proof 1876-CC dime, and $150 million for the CAC

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #5

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. Today’s Theme

I will not be discussing the most expensive or the rarest coins that are coming ‘on the auction block’ this week. Rather, I have selected a few that I find to be both newsworthy and particularly interesting. Admittedly, these are expensive. I continue to insist, though, that an understanding of rare coins, and of the values in the coin collecting community, requires knowledge of coins that most collectors cannot afford.

Suppose that this column was geared towards art enthusiasts rather than coin enthusiasts. Would it then make sense to discuss only the paintings that most art collectors could afford? Collectors who cannot afford great and culturally important paintings enjoy learning about them and often learn to apply their knowledge of famous painting to their interpretations of a wide variety of not-so-famous paintings. Likewise, coin enthusiasts, in general, appreciate coins that are great, famous, very rare and/or important to the culture of coin collecting.

Please see my discussions below of the following coins. The 1851-O trime is the only Three Cent Silver issue that was not struck at the Philadelphia Mint. Indeed, it is curious that the New Orleans Mint struck this denomination, as the Branch Mints tended not to manufacture small denomination coins in the 19th century. The Hawaiian Eighth-Dollar is certainly extremely rare and extremely curious. The 1926-S nickel issue is just incredibly difficult to find in MS-65 or MS-66 grade. As I discussed one in last week’s column, I could not resist mentioning another, as B&M will auction it this week in Baltimore. Similarly, I discussed a rare and historically important King James II English gold coin last week and B&M will auction a coin of the same design type this week. Plus, the unique Proof 1876-CC dime is one of the most exciting coins of all.

II. The CAC Surpasses $150 Million Level

It is widely known that the CAC approves (or rejects) submitted coins that are already graded by the PCGS or the NGC. Approved coins receive a green sticker, or, in rare instances, a gold sticker. It is not as widely known that the CAC will make sight unseen commitments to pay competitive prices for CAC approved coins. These are not ‘low ball’ bids. As of June 15, the CAC has purchased $154 million of coins, almost all of which are CAC approved.

The CAC was founded by John Albanese in Oct. 2007. CAC purchases have thus been averaging more than $4.7 million per month. The $150 million level was reached in early June.

Albanese was the sole founder of the Numismatic Guaranty Corp (NGC) in 1987. Around Dec. 1998, he sold his shares in the NGC to Mark Salzberg, who is the current NGC Chairman. (For more discussion of the CAC, please see my articles on CoinFest, Jay Brahin’s Coins, the PCGS graded MS-68+ 1901-S quarter, the 20th Century Gold Club, and Dr. Duckor’s quarters.)

Although the CAC has acquired thousands of coins that are valued at under $5000 each, the CAC has approved and acquired some very famous coins. Among others, the Eliasberg 1870-S silver dollar and the finest known, Rogers-Madison 1796 ‘No Stars’ Quarter Eagle ($2½ gold coin) come to my mind.

III. Unique Proof 1876-CC Dime

Laura Sperber, of Legend Numismatics, acquired the unique Proof 1876-CC dime from a New Jersey dealer in early June. On Saturday, June 12, she sold it for an amount in excess of $200,000. It “went into a collection of Proof Seated Dimes,” Sperber reveals. It is certified as Proof-66 by the PCGS and has a sticker of approval from the CAC. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The PCGS Lawsuit Against Alleged Coin Doctors

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #3

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. Today’s Theme

Welcome to the third installment of my column. I had planned to write more about auctions and about current demand for rare Liberty Seated coins. I was pleasantly surprised, however, by the most important lawsuit in the history of coin collecting: The PCGS lawsuit against six named individuals and other not yet named individuals regarding coin doctoring is pathbreaking and earth shattering.

Even if the PCGS does not prevail on all points or against all defendants, the educational value of this suit, and the impact that it will have on coin doctors, goes way beyond the fate of these defendants. For legal reasons, I will not comment on the defendants in this suit. I am asserting that a significant number of coin doctors who are not defendants will be discouraged by this lawsuit from doctoring coins.

The PCGS SecurePlus™ program, which was inaugurated in March 2010, also discourages coin doctoring. For some discussion of the ‘plus’ aspect of the program and my idea as to how the NGC can discourage coin doctoring, please see last week’s column.

Under the SecurePlus™ program, submitted coins are scanned, for purposes of identification, with CoinAnalyzer devices. The PCGS will be able to identify each scanned coin if it is submitted to the PCGS again in the future, and, when a match is found, the submitted coin will be closely compared to an image of the same coin that was taken when it was previously submitted. Changes in the appearance of each matched coin will be investigated. The positive effects of the SecurePlus program, though, will build very gradually over a period of many years. This lawsuit will be extremely effective at discouraging coin doctoring in the near future.

Four years ago, when coin doctoring was rampant in the dealer community, had PCGS officials threatened a coin doctor with a lawsuit, the coin doctor probably would have figured that PCGS officials were bluffing. I am almost certain that this is the first time that a grading service has sued some of its dealer-members for submitting coins that are allegedly doctored and misrepresented.

Now, if PCGS officials threaten a coin doctor with a lawsuit unless he stops submitting doctored coins to the PCGS, the threatened individual is likely to take the threat very seriously and believe that the PCGS might actually follow through with a suit. Yes, I realize that not every coin doctor will be deterred by the threat of a lawsuit. Most will be deterred, at least to an extent. (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 Profile: 1849 Oregon Exchange Company Five Dollar Gold Territorial Coin

The news of the discovery of gold in California reached the Oregon Territory in late July 1848. That news was confirmed in Oregon City, seat of Clackamas County, on August 9 of that year, when the brig Henry docked with gold dust, arriving from San Francisco, and by October more than two-thirds of the men in Oregon had departed to seek treasure in the gold fields of California.

The Oregon Spectator, founded in 1846, one of the first newspapers west of the Mississippi River, was forced to stop publishing in 1848 “because its printer, with 3,000 officers, lawyers, physicians, farmers and mechanics were leaving for the gold fields.” (Kagin, Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States.)

By spring of the following year, gold dust had almost entirely replaced beaver and other fur pelts as the primary medium of exchange, although it traded at a substantial discount to silver coins (when available) and to its value at the Philadelphia Mint. Miners were losing money.

Against this backdrop, the Oregon Exchange Company was formed, with the express purpose of weighing and stamping gold.

Although Oregon was officially declared a territory of the United States on March 3, 1849–rendering any plan to coin gold clearly unconstitutional–several prominent residents determined to proceed with the plan.

PCGS Video:David McCarthy of Kagin’s tells the story of the 1849 $5 Oregon gold piece

The surnames of those residents were Kilborn, Magruder, Taylor, Abernethy, Willson, Rector, (Gill) Campbell, and Smith. Their initials K. M. T. A. W. R. G. S. appear around the rim of the five dollar gold pieces, which also picture a beaver on a log and a laurel wreath. In error, the initials T.O. (rather than O.T., for Oregon Territory) were stamped on the obverse.

The five dollar contains the reverse legend OREGON EXCHANGE COMPANY around the periphery, with 130 G. / NATIVE GOLD. / 5 D. in the center. The initials of two men were omitted from the ten dollar pieces struck later, and the T.O. was corrected to O.T.

The gold coinage was unalloyed with silver or copper, and succeeded in raising the price of gold dust from $12 to $16 as the pieces circulated. Alloy was purposely omitted to ensure that the pieces would be accepted regardless of variances in the purity of gold dust, but their inherent softness caused them to suffer in contact with the harder alloyed gold coinage from California–and their higher intrinsic value caused them to soon be melted. (more…)

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

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

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds for CoinLink

I. Today’s Theme

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

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

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

II. Dan Holmes’ Middle Dates

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

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

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

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

PCGS Launches New International Web Site – PCGSGlobal.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The PCGS Las Vegas Invitational Coin Show

Market Report by Laura Sperber of Legend Numismatics

We were blown away at how many people attended. Dealer wise, the list was impressive. Collector wise, Thursday was a list or who’s who! In our opinion, it was the best attended show so far.

Dealer to dealer was not just strong, it was almost crazy. Our first sale was to the first dealer we saw and it was for $40,000.00! From there it was off to the races. Interestingly, Gold was red hot (especially generics) but soup to nuts coins were right up there too. Better gold did enjoy the strongest demand (things like MS65 $5 Indians, better date $10 Indians, and of course any rare date Saints). Selling was too dealer to dealer was almost too easy.

There were a few dealers who came in to “walk” the room. Our top stealth team seller was there and sold six figures just by walking around! Others were there trying to buy for Want Lists (we had two serious offers on our PCGS $2 1/2 Indian set) . And of course a dealer really wanted to buy our flipped over (sold back home) High Relief PCGS MS65 CAC. We actually stopped our wholesale activity early to keep some coins inventory for the upcoming Long Beach Show!

Selling to collectors at this mini show (there are only about 15 tables) was better than our last Long Beach and Baltimore Shows! The first collector who we saw sat down, looked at our PCGS PR66 CAC Barber Dime set and just wrote the check! After that we sold two two coins for over $10,000.00 each to other collectors.

THE MARKET

As you can expect, Gold has heated up and is back in demand. We did warn you! However, we are not certain this week gold won’t take a short breather. Even if it does not, apparently the telemarkters recieved massive orders and are back out searching for coins ranging from bullion to expensive rarities. We expect ALL rare gold to remain strong (even if spot gold comes down) becuase there is strong demand and practically no supply. It seems many people feel building a GEM Gold Type set is a very acceptable way to own gold and hedge on it (we do agree).

NOTE: When buying better gold-make sure it is CAC’d. It is not so much because of the grading, its because of so many coins being doctored in some way. Legend is an owner of CAC and sells ONLY CAC stickered coins. We made this decision based upon the serious number of bad gold pieces we have seen. Dreck like that you do not want to be stuck owning. We can tell you BOTH David Hall and Mark Salzberg are committed to the war against coin doctors as are the principals of CAC. We just wish more dealers would take a stand against these villians among us who are ruining coins.

We saw very few coins “made” at the show that were not of the generic gold nature. So the supplies of all metals of all rare coins is still slim to non existant! We still urge you to buy when a great coin does become available-even if there is a strong premium involved. There was some dreck in a few dealers boxes, but those dealers will always have more dreck than nice coins as they are price buyers/crackout dealers.

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…)

PCGS Announces Winners of 2010 ANA Summer Seminar Scholarships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…)

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 Expands PhotoGrade Online Coin Grading Guide to Apple iPad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Thoughts on PCGS’ New Secure Plus Coin Grading Program

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

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

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

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

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

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