This is sure to be a hot, and possibly touchy, topic. Before continuing, I am not certain of the inner workings within each firm nor the set standards which I assume are universal. Coin grading is subjective. On that I think we all could agree. In that, would it not also pertain to the several individuals looking over the same coin at any such firm? Now I understand that the end grade is based on a general consensus of the group. Yet I wonder when occasionally a coin gets resubmitted to a competing firm and grades a full grade higher. Or, why certain coins get higher grades when they should not simply based on extreme rarity. Early U.S. and Colonials seem to fall into separate standards when compared with common varieties of the same series.
Coin grading firms serve a needed purpose, a must for the hobby. Without them it would be chaos in a modern world. I suppose what I'm saying is that, while extremely consistent, the actual grading is subjective.
Personally, I have nothing against graded coins or the firms which do so. At least not those in the top tier. In fact I have a complete PCGS PF69 DC set of 1979 type two and 1981 type two sets. While I agree on their assessment of 69, the 1981 Lincoln Cent would be an exception which I feel barely made it (I compared it against another same grade PCGS in hand). Despite this, I am very satisfied with my graded coinage.
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I almost always buy the coin not the grade. My exception to that is that every year I buy a proof 70 Jefferson (and sometimes specials if issued like the reverse proof etc).
Sometimes these coins disappoint and I have to buy several before I find one worthy of joining my collection. Because they are cheap, they are multiple listed so no close ups of the actual coin.
I read somewhere in the numismatic press that the top tier graders spend only thirty seconds evaluating each coin. They do a good job for that time but I generally spend at least a few minutes or longer. In my opinion all the grading services overgrade moderns. Once you move to older coins, they seem to be much more on point. Part of that may be that as a coin ages, any problems may become more obvious.
I believe that given more time and cost, they would be more accurate much like CAC.
Quote: I am not certain of the inner workings within each firm nor the set standards which I assume are universal.
The standards are similar, but have differences which is one of the biggest reasons why the TPGs are not all viewed as equal by the market.
Quote: I read somewhere in the numismatic press that the top tier graders spend only thirty seconds evaluating each coin.
This is both true and one of the biggest numismatic myths that gets perpetuated. What I mean by the myth aspect is that even the press often presents it like an NBA style shot clock which it isn't. They take the time they need but most things just don't take much time at all. The longer you stare at something for a grade the more you can talk yourself out of things or into a wider range, the initial reaction is often the most appropriate when you grade coins all day for a living.
The guys grading ASE boxes aren't the same ones grading classic rarities at the first tier TPGs and that is most likely true at the other two respected ones as well.
Quote: I believe that given more time and cost, they would be more accurate much like CAC.
I'm a big fan of CAC and fully understand what it's purpose is, that said a coin not stickering doesn't mean it was inaccurate. The more expensive the coin the more CAC matters but even they are one of the first to say that just because something doesn't sticker doesn't mean the TPG was wrong.
PCGS and CAC could literally combine and there would be things that don't sticker if for no other reason there will always be a low end of the grade. No matter what standard is used there will always be a top and bottom of the grade level unless you ditch grading all together and just start ranking every coin with a constantly changing number of where you have it in line.
CAC does absolutely matter though, just like why the coin didn't sticker matters.
Quote: Coin grading firms serve a needed purpose, a must for the hobby. Without them it would be chaos in a modern world. I suppose what I'm saying is that, while extremely consistent, the actual grading is subjective.
I guess my point to all the rambling was that it either is or is not an MS64. Below is an example. Shouldn't the spotting on the obverse and more the reverse have kept this at, in my opinion a 63? Although the strike justifies the grade, does the surface in general also not play into such?
Do a little homework and things like this are not difficult to find. This is why CCF says to Buy the COIN and not the slab.
BTW - disclaimer as always. If you ENJOY slabs - then so what? Enjoy them! All the more power to you. Hobbies are about FUN. This info is to let newbies see the non-marketing-department side of the coin (could not resist).
The point is that grading services do not grade the coin, they give an opinion of what grade they think the coin is. As such, some choose to then trust that opinion, that is their choice. Others choose to trust their own judgment and buy the coin not the slab.
You can argue both sides, slabs are both good and bad. You can also argue that the grading system is flawed. Some have pointed out, and it has been discussed before that coins vary within a grade. So you could argue that a better scale is needed, as some have suggested from time to time.
The one thing which I don't believe anyone can argue with, is buy the coin not the slab. (Excluding where the slab is the main purchase such as PCGS coffins etc).The grading services spend minimal time and are paid a minimal amount to give their opinion. The owner of the coin will likely spend much longer examining the coin and sink far more money into it. As such the owner needs to educate themselves and get a coin they enjoy.
Quote: Space shuttles fail but I guess NASA scientists should all be ignored as well?
I agree - the same standards should be applied by all legitimate experts. NASA shut the Space Shuttle program down down and worked hard to make sure when they started the system up again it was 100% scientifically sound.
Facts are visible above and its not hard to find more. Only the Challenger was lost.
The system as it sits needs to be upgraded to a 21st century technology standard. Thankfully I am seeing more of this concept being discussed online.
Quote: NASA shut the Space Shuttle program down down and worked hard to make sure when they started the system up again it was 100% scientifically sound.
Except that it wasn't and another shuttle was lost. 2 of the 6 ever built were lost and really it is 2 of 5 as one wasn't even flight worthy. That means that out of the 6 built only 3 that flew survived the program with 2 failures in 135 missions. That is a significantly higher rate of error than the TPGs.
Obviously space flight is more complicated, but the shuttle program had the backing of the US government, the entire scientific community, and really the world to some extent with a backing never seen before in human history. Even with all of that there was still a significant failure rate.
Point being this idea that somehow scientific this or that would make some perfect grading system that everyone would love and be on board with is nothing more than a fallacy nor would it be 100 percent accurate like some try and push
Quote: The point is that grading services do not grade the coin, they give an opinion of what grade they think the coin is.
That is exactly what grading a coin is.
Quote: You can also argue that the grading system is flawed.
The system itself is flawed, part of what some complain about is fixing some of the inherent initial flaws which has been happening for the last couple decades. It's absurd that a MS 67 quality coin should supposedly be limited to 58 because of slight high point friction while a MS 61 morgan that looks like it lost a fight with a lawnmower is graded higher. Thankfully that illogical break in the system has been getting corrected.
Quote: The grading services spend minimal time and are paid a minimal amount to give their opinion. The owner of the coin will likely spend much longer examining the coin and sink far more money into it.
The majority of coins only take a few seconds to grade, after that you are just confusing yourself spending minutes on it arguing in your own head talking yourself into and out of things. The classic coin graders at the legitimate TPGs and more specifically the first tier TPGs get paid VERY well.