On this chatroom and others, I frequently see complaints about how TPG
's screw up the attribution of this Canadian variety, or that Canadian variety. The truth is they do sometimes mis-attribute them, or fail to attribute the variety at all. Examples of variety mistakes occurring, both at U.S. grading companies and Canadian grading companies, are not at all hard to find.
In a perfect world, of course, these errors and omissions would not happen, but since when has the world been perfect? I think there are several simple reasons why they happen.
1. Time is money and all TPG
's are in business to make money. If you ever talk to somebody who has worked as a TPG
grader, the pace of play is fast. Speed causes mistakes.
2. Most TPG
's handle a very wide variety of foreign coins, which requires wide knowledge, sometimes at the expense of deep knowledge. Imagine being in the grading room where order #1 has Australian decimal coins, #2 has Mexican pillar dollars, order #3 has Canadian decimal coins, order #4 has German talers. Now throw in variety attribution for various coins in these orders. Don't forget; grade and attribute them quickly.
3. The labels for varieties change over the years. My personal favorite example was the 1859 DPN9 T2 cent. For a long time, if ICCS didn't know what to do about a significantly re-punched 9, they called it a "DP9 #2 Variation", or even just a DP9#2. For years, PCGS holdered numerous types of re-punched 9's as DPN9 T2, because they didn't know what else to call them. Charlton has now caught up, the TPG
's have a guide, and now TPG
's generally recognize seven specific types of DP and TP 9's. Think of such things as opportunities for you, the knowledgeable variety collector. Some of my best bargains, including my 1859 TPN9, were purchased in an early, mislabeled DPN9 T2 holders. Yes, I paid them more money to correctly attribute it, but what the heck.
's will not attribute varieties, if they are ahead of their (the TPG
's) timeframe. It does not matter how much of no-brainer we collectors think it should be to ID it. For example, PCGS will not yet attribute obverse portrait varieties, yet it would likely yield them a fair amount of re-grading revenue to do so. I don't know, but suspect they are thinking about business factors related to their liability (their grading guarantee). Which ones do they recognize? How do they handle rare obverses and very worn coins? What do they do about hybrid obverses? It isn't such a no-brainer, if you are financially on the hook for mistakes (oh I forgot, ICCS isn't financially on the hook for anything).
5. Collectors are the ones driving the current, expanding Canadian variety trend. In many cases, the TPG
's are learning about varieties as collectors submit them. In the bigger numismatic picture, the published work on many varieties is either very old (Zoell, Griffin, etc.), or a little bit obscure (my books, Jim's website). We may like to think they take their time to fully research and understand our quintuple re-punched booger on the Queen's nose, but in real life they don't. See #1 above.
Variety attribution mistakes happen, and likely will continue to happen. I would encourage collectors to chill out about them. Yes, if it is your coin, they are frustrating, but think of mistakes as growing pains in the hopefully burgeoning field of Canadian varieties. Luckily the main tier TPG
's are willing to fix most of them for free, if pointed out in a timely manner. For example, I have fixed a couple of mine over the years by calling PCGS as soon as the grades post with the wrong variety, before they mail them back. They generally will not fix something you buy that was graded years ago, unless you pay regrading fees.
I, for one, like the authentication, protection, and visibility (pop reports, set registry, etc.), my Canadian variety coins receive in a TPG
holder and will continue to submit the valuable ones, even if the TPG
makes the occasional mistake that needs fixing.
Disclosure: I have no affiliation, nor detailed inside knowledge, with any TPG
. I think it is simply just common sense and just my two Victorian cents worth. Feel free to disagree.