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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Grading Gets Its Start

A FOUNDING AUTHENTICATOR TELLS THE INSIDE STORY

Editor’s Note: Thomas K. DeLorey is the industry’s authentication and grading pioneer. He played a pivotal role in founding the industry’s first thirdparty authentication and grading service as an employee of the American Numismatic Association.

In 2019, it is hard to believe that Third Party Grading (TPG) services have been around for more than 40 years. The oldest is almost 50 years old and began as an authentication service. I had a part in its early days. The ANA Certification Service (ANACS) began operations in June of 1972, largely in response to a flood of counterfeit gold coins that had begun to appear in the U.S. coin market in the late 1950s. At the time, it was still illegal in the U.S. to possess gold in bullion form, but common pre-1934 gold coins were openly bought and sold. Numismatic coins had always been legal to hold, buy and sell. It is assumed that jewelers started out copying the smaller pieces to put into coin jewelry and the larger coins as a means of smuggling gold into America and selling it at a small premium. Until that is, eventually they figured out that many of the smaller pieces could be sold for huge markups in the numismatic market. In the counterfeiters’ home countries, such copies of coins that were no longer in circulation were typically legal to make, so long as the counterfeiters were meticulous at providing the lawful weight and fineness of the gold. To do less would be committing fraud.

The coins were sometimes very well made, as were other numismatic counterfeits such as gold and silver commemorative coins and early U.S. type coins. The counterfeiters branched out into in these areas in the 1960s once they saw how they could sell counterfeit U.S. gold to unsuspecting American collectors.

At the time, counterfeits of foreign and ancient coins were also a problem, and so the ANA, as the larger of the two national organizations for coin collectors, established ANACS to fight the menace. The service’s offices were set up in Washington, D.C. as to be close to the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian, which graciously allowed ANACS to use the collection for comparison purposes.

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About COINage

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