Gerry's a true numismatist. I trust him and respect him, and have bought several coins from him that were all well above expectations.
With that out of the way, I'll come right out and say it -- he's wrong. No, I don't have his resume, or even a fraction of his skills and expertise, but the very last thing this hobby needs right now
is for TPG
's to relax grading standards!
To summarize Gerry's recent post, some coins from the collection of Dr. Glenn Peterson (numismatist, author, BHNC, etc.) were recently submitted to PCGS, including some that were already previously holdered by NGC, and an entire Dansco of Liberty Seated half dimes
. Many of the coins did not cross, and of the LS half dimes
, quite a few came back Details and the others received extremely conservative grades.
These results, combined with other recent submissions and the management shake-up at PCGS, has led him to decide he's going to be using NGC for his submissions going forward.
One of the key things he mentions in his post is that he is disappointed that in the future, "old-time" collections submitted for pedigree/slabbing may be graded too conservatively or assigned Details designations that he feels are unwarranted.
Now, Mr. Fortin has a heck of an eye for coins. One of the best in the business. When combined with the recent turnover at PCGS, you might be tempted to think that he's nailed it -- PCGS has gone off the rails and no longer has any idea what they're doing when it comes to grading.
However, let's frame the discussion in a different context.
This is the first time in a LONG time that a major coin dealer who is a well-respected expert in several coin series has submitted blue-ribbon pedigree coins of impeccable provenance...and NOT been the beneficiary of "loose" grading, special treatment, gradeflation, "market acceptability" instead of details grades, and a large variety of other ailments afflicting the TPG
's over the last decade or more.
With that being said, my question now is more along the lines of "Is he upset because he feels that the coins were unfairly graded, or is he upset because the graders didn't apply the usual 'loose' grading afforded to certain well-known dealers?"
I'm pretty sure it's a combination of all of the above. Some of the coins were probably undergraded, or unfairly detailed. (My own recent submissions to PCGS seem to support this.) However, what about the coins that may have been overgraded, or should have been details but got by?
Dealers, and especially numismatists of Gerry's reputation and qualifications, SHOULD be advocating for a return to conservative but fair grading standards by the TPG
's. Instead, Mr. Fortin is arguing that PCGS is grading too conservatively, a position which is at odds with the majority opinion within some of the older coin clubs such as EAC, along with other well-respected numismatists and dealers such as Rick Snow, who have repeatedly pointed out the constant gradeflation, favoritism, and inconsistent grading standards applied by PCGS, NGC, and ANACS.
With all respect due to Mr. Fortin, the hobby benefits as a whole if TPG
's improve their standards, their consistency, and eliminate overgrading.
I would love to hear LSCC/JRCS members' opinions on this subject as well -- two of the older and very highly respected coin clubs -- and see how they feel about the "Peterson affair" given Dr. Peterson's status within their communities.