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Digital Subscriptions > COINage > September 2019 > STATE-OF-THE-ART COIN GRADING


Untold Stories of the Grading Services of Today and Tomorrow

The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) are the undisputed leaders in a commercial sense, as almost all U.S. silver coins worth more than $500 each, and the vast majority of surviving pre- 1934 U.S. gold coins worth more than $2,000 each, have been encapsulated by one of these two grading services. The dominance and acceptance of these two services are obvious to seasoned coin buyers and sellers. Perceptions of the assigned grades, however, have been changing over time, and my interpretation is that there has been some loss of faith in the grading services.

With advances in technology, it may become costeffective in the future to track individual coins that are relatively inexpensive, rather than just referring to them by type, date, and grade. If pedigrees and other aspects of an individual coin’s history could travel with the coin and become available to prospective buyers in the future, then collectors would be better informed about their coins, and coin markets would operate much more efficiently. But more about that later.

Before revealing some of the negative aspects of the grading system, it’s important to emphasize positive aspects. Most importantly, if a classic U.S. coin is PCGS-graded MS-65, it is very likely that there are many dealers and collectors who will pay an MS-65 level price for it. While dealer buy prices, wholesale prices, and retail prices differ, an MS-65 level price is usually much higher than an MS-63 or MS-64 level price for the same pre-1934 U.S. coin.

It is not always true that a PCGS-graded MS-65 coin will be easily salable at a fair market price. Nevertheless, it is true in the vast majority of instances. Before PCGS was founded, it was not unusual for a collector to accept the word of the seller regarding a coin’s grade. A collector might believe that a coin grades MS-65 on the day of the purchase and later have difficulty selling the same coin for an MS-65 level dealer-buy price.

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Beckett CoinAge September 2019, Grading System : A Look Back, Untold Stories of Grading Services, And More....