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TPG Mistakes In Grading Varieties

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Pillar of the Community

United States
749 Posts
 Posted 05/16/2018  8:11 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add bosox to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
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.

4. TPG'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.
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8221 Posts
 Posted 05/16/2018  8:33 pm  Show Profile   Check SPP-Ottawa's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add SPP-Ottawa to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I agree on all points. This is especially true if we become recognized experts in our niche. Progression requires persistence and patience, and a willing to put your newly gained knowledge in writing, so that it eventually gains traction.

Lastly, it is a good thing you are giving us your two Victoria cents... (the most buying power prorated to inflation). With the elimination of the cent in Canada, your two Elizabeth cents would be worthless...
"Research is what I am doing, when I don't know what I am doing" --Wernher von Braun

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United States
8890 Posts
 Posted 05/17/2018  02:04 am  Show Profile   Check spruett001's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add spruett001 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
TPGs will always be behind on variety attribution because they are not actively seeking/discovering them.
Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum.

"Just because you're paranoid don't mean they're not after you."
-Kurdt Kobain

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Pillar of the Community
United States
2163 Posts
 Posted 05/17/2018  04:02 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add okiecoiner to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Even though I have never availed myself to submit any coin to a TPG, I am well aware of friends that do. The time that a TPG grader spends on any single coin is normally 20 seconds or less. With the plethora of Canadian varieties that have been spawned in the last 10 years, there is very little incentive for them to expand individual grading time to include varieties that are not well known to the "general" collectors. While a person who specializes in, say, Vicky LC varieties may think that coin "x" is a no-brainer, recognition by a TPG to placate an infinitely small collector base is not going to happen until the collector base increases. Speaking for Vicky LC collection only, the work found in the 2011 Charlton, Ron's excellent books, Dan Flynn's great old Vicky website, and the availability of lots of coinsite chatter ... these have combined to make many more folks aware of the scarcity and collectability to be found in the variety market. As Rob says .... when there is a possible market for their services and a profit to be made, they will expand what they currently certify. I agree wholeheartedly with Robs assessments and comments above... jst have patience with the TPG's. If there is a way to make money, they will find it and gently tailor their services to fill voids.
Bedrock of the Community
14727 Posts
 Posted 05/17/2018  04:42 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It would be a good idea to expressly point out to a Third Party Grader that your submission IS a variety.
Problem after that, is that the TPG may recognise the variety and comment on it on the slab, or simply ignore it.
Have a talk with the TPG about their policies in this regard, before you submit.
Pillar of the Community
1322 Posts
 Posted 05/17/2018  11:02 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add papeldog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I also agree with all comments above, it will take time for them to jell it into there system and like mentioned it will take more time so the price will go up.
The main grading companies usually put the well known varieties in on the large cents flips or slabs. When I submit an order to PCGS I always make mention of said variety but if it is not a well known variety as in the DP9's they don't always see it that way you get narrow 9 or the wrong DP9 # so you have time before they return them to talk about it and maybe get them to change it.

I think the more said variety is talked about and shown the faster it will happen and sooner or later it will be graded as such. I know since I have been sending in coins to PCGS they have added large cent varities to the graded coins.

Happy Hunting
Valued Member
103 Posts
 Posted 05/17/2018  5:54 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add friedsquid to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The one thing that is fact is that a TPG's opinion is subjective and unfortunately this will always be the case..Different people will grade differently at times, yet what is harder to understand is that when you have a note graded and then regraded years later by the same grader (person) that the note grades differently...
Nothing surprises me anymore,,,and again the saying
"Buy the note not the holder" will always hold true.

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