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How Necessary & Valuable Are Coin Grading Services?

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Author Previous TopicReplies: 14 / Views: 544Next Topic  
Valued Member
United States
53 Posts
 Posted 09/16/2023  10:02 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add mrwiskers to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I see both sides of this question ...
...for a novice, "pro" grading could be helpful in determining value based on grade... the unsure, "pro" grading verifies authenticity...
...also, encapsulating offers a safe way to store the coin, avoiding any further wear / damage / deterioration. (I'm sure I've omitted other advantages)...
...grading is an opinion, not an exact science, & many see these services 'missing the boat' in many ways, for their paid opinion.
...coins have three sides, not only 2 ... rim examination is crucial in many coins, & impossible when encapsulated ...
...I enjoy (carefully & properly) handling my circulated coins, & re-examining them on all 3 sides ...
...the added cost of a coin by paying a service for an opinion may be prohibitive when selling or buying ... (again, sure I've omitted other disadvantages)...
..what are your thoughts on this subject? ...
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United States
15243 Posts
 Posted 09/16/2023  10:17 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add panzaldi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
in almost all cases I don't slab. the only reason to slab and grade a coin is the following

1. its a rare coin and requires authentication
2. the value is greater than $150 and you plan on selling it

thats it

the cost of grading chews up too much of the value of a coin otherwise and you will most likely never recover that cost. I would never pay a premium for a slabbed coin just because its slabbed. as for grading the coin you have hundreds of years of experience on this site that are as good as any TPG grader however one must consider that we are grading by photo and not in hand so everything depends on lighting/glare and sharpness of the photo to get the most accurate grade. if you use CCF I would toss out the highest and lowest grades if there is disparity and average the remaining ones for the best shot at what the grade is.

if you want to protect a coin put it in an airtight holder.
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 Posted 09/16/2023  10:21 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add DBM to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Don't forget their importance to those who play the registry set game.
"Dipping" is not considered cleaning...
-from PCGS website
Valued Member
Topic Starter
United States
53 Posts
 Posted 09/16/2023  10:27 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add mrwiskers to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
...good points, panzaldi ... agree, agree ...
Bedrock of the Community
21185 Posts
 Posted 09/16/2023  10:50 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
For me, not necessary at all; I prefer un slabbed coins, irrespective of their condition.

I prefer to have every coin in my collection to be subject of close investigation, perhaps decades after I have acquired it, just as museums do.
Can't do that with slabbed coins.

Every coin in my collection has all necessary information relation to it's attribution and history of acquisition marked on the 2x2 which contains it.
Cant do that with slabbed coins.

Have been seriously collecting coins since 1962, - I am an old guy now. I have been building what is essentially a numismatic research collection (beginning with an Australian gold type set), since I started.

Long experience has made be quite confident enough to grade my own coins, and to offer what I think is a reasonable opinion about grading coins for other collectors.
I AM human, - sometimes I still get it wrong, but hopefully by not too much, and then rarely.
Valued Member
Topic Starter
United States
53 Posts
 Posted 09/16/2023  11:07 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add mrwiskers to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
...more good points, sel_691 ... like you, old guy here ... started in the late 1950's, searching change ...
...not as seriously as you, though ... I turned 15, discovered girls, cars, & beer ... sold my collection for dating money (my part-time job paid 25 cents per hr.)
...collecting has been an uphill struggle ever since...
Bedrock of the Community
United States
12973 Posts
 Posted 09/16/2023  1:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add ijn1944 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The numismatic 'market' (defined broadly) determines the nature and viability of third party grading.
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United States
6101 Posts
 Posted 09/16/2023  4:22 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add hfjacinto to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
While the OP makes valid points, I don't agree that its so clear cut. Here are 3 coins.

The first is a 1909 S VDB

The reason to get this one slabbed are:
1) There are many counterfeits
2) Value increases with grade steeply
3) Easier ability to sell

As the 1909 S VDB is heavily counterfeited and its value increases quickly because of grade, this makes it a good candidate for slabbing.

Next coin is the 2019 S ERP.

As you can see its raw, while it's value is comparable to the 1909 S VDB. So why is it raw? We'll I purchased it from the mint. I have 2. And I have no plans to sell them, so why pay to get them graded. I'm pretty certain one is PF69, the other is PF70. I have no real reason to get them graded, so they stay raw.

Last coin is a 2010 Gold AGE.

This is a total waste to get graded. There is no value increase between Raw and MS69, only the MS70 has a small increase. So why buy it graded? Because there was $0 difference in cost.This coin was Spot + $100 (prices have gone up a little since then), but if RAW and Slabbed are the same price why buy raw? You are getting the benefit of a verified coin.

As to using CCF for grading, that depends, a lot of people can't grade. And most people take terrible pictures, also in the higher grades its very hard to differentiate between high grades.

In the end the best advice is not to trust TPG's, learn to grade and you'll be better $$$$ for it.
Edited by hfjacinto
09/16/2023 4:34 pm
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2150 Posts
 Posted 09/16/2023  9:13 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add hokiefan_82 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
My primary collections, both coins and currency, are all encapsulated by PCGS, NGC, PCGS-C, PCGS-B and PMG. My main reason is to make it easier for my heirs to dispose of my collection when my time is up, as none of my kids or grandkids have any serious interest in collecting. I have a fairly large collection, and I've left instructions in my will on a preferred auction firm to take care of it all when I'm gone. It'll make it a whole lot easier for them, and gives me peace of mind not having to worry about them being taken advantage of if they were selling a large collection of uncertified coins/currency they knew nothing about.
My U.S. Classic Commemorative Complete Set:
My U.S. Type Set:
My U.S. Fractional Note Complete Set: https://notes.www.collectors-societ...eSetID=34188
Edited by hokiefan_82
09/16/2023 9:16 pm
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 Posted 09/17/2023  12:07 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Errers and Varietys to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
For me, I only get them slabbed if they're worth a lot of money. Like for example, rare Doubled Dies and rare errors. I slabbed a 1994 LMC with a major rotated die error, on the reverse. It graded MS-66. Found it CRH. The other one that I got slabbed was the 1984 LMC double ear DDO-001. That graded AU-50. Also a CRH find. It will be easier to sell them, when the times come to sell my coin collection.
Errers and Varietys.
Edited by Errers and Varietys
09/17/2023 12:13 am
Valued Member
Topic Starter
United States
53 Posts
 Posted 09/17/2023  1:49 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add mrwiskers to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
... good & salient points from hfjacinto, hokiefan 82, &ererrs & varieties ... thanks for posting on the plus side of slabbing ...
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18884 Posts
 Posted 09/18/2023  7:15 pm  Show Profile   Check BadThad's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add BadThad to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I generally agree with the others. The TPG's have their place in the collecting market for sure and they provide a valuable service to us. They are best used for their authentication skills - the grading, well...hit and miss, especially with the gem-level mint state coins. Hey, they are still humans!
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81404 Posts
 Posted 09/18/2023  7:22 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The TPGs have a lock on the market for "investment" coins - basically anything worth around $300 or more. You basically need the slab to get full value in today's market.
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 Posted 09/18/2023  8:11 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add oriole to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I think that is important to mention that outside of the US market, there is currently little market need for slabbing.
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 Posted 09/18/2023  10:55 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
TPGs solved some problems that were pervasive in the US coin market in the 1980s. They have caused other problems in the meantime.

The problem that TPGs assisted with the most is resolving the perennial dispute about a coin's condition: in haggling over a deal, buyers would undergrade, sellers would overgrade. The TPG provides a neutral third-person opinion of the grade and if both parties agree to the trustworthiness of the TPG, then this removes or at least greatly reduces the wiggle room buyer and seller can haggle around.

One of the key aims behind the concept of TPG slabbing was to aid in the commoditization of coins - allowing people to buy and sell coins sight unseen, even in bulk, as if they were barrels of oil or stock market shares. The theory was, if a TPG graded a coin "EF-45", you'd be able to derive in your head a reasonably accurate picture of what the coin looked like, without actually needing to see a picture. This was important when buying from mail-order dealerships in the pre-Internet era, when printed sale catalogues contained few or no pictures; the TPGs wer supposed to reduce to near-zero the amount of returned coins from unhappy customers. In this respect, TPGs failed - because as we all know, not all EF-45 coins look alike - some are beautiful (for which we'd happily pay a premium), others are ugly (which we'd only buy at a discount) - and not everybody's definitions of "beautiful" and "ugly" are identical. Very few people today would advise buying a coin totally sight-unseen, based solely on the TPG grade.

Authentication is often touted as a big advantage for slabbed coins, and when you're the one submitting the coins yourself, it's great peace of mind. However, when buying slabbed coins, it is not a perfect shield - fake coins still get slabbed in genuine slabs, and plenty of fake coins get slabbed in fake slabs - a criminal organization capable of making a passably realistic fake piece of metal, would have no trouble making a passably realistic fake piece of plastic. Fake coins in slabs, both fake slabs and real slabs, have long been a much bigger problem than the TPGs have ever admitted to. Which in turn led to a false sense of security. I recall seeing a discussion over on the PCGS forum many years ago; someone posted an obviously fake coin in a fake slab, but everyone was saying "but it's slabbed, it can't possibly be fake". Wariness over fake slabs then leads to the requirement that a collector needs to learn how to tell fake slabs from genuine slabs - and if I'm going to go to the trouble of learning fake things from real things, I'd rather learn it about the coins themselves, than pieces of plastic.I notice the TPGs seem to be walking back their authenticity guarantees for certain coin series - the fake-masters are just too good sometimes.

Finally, there's the matter of preservation. Slabs are pretty good at preventing the environment from affecting your coins, and good at absorbing damage during shipping that might otherwise have damaged a coin - but they're not bulletproof - nor are they airtight and moisture-proof. Meanwhile, the un-openable slab places a physical barrier between the collector and their coins. Slabs are also quite bulky, compared to most other coin storage systems - so one of the few advantages of coin collecting over other collectable hobbies - the need for minimal storage space - is somewhat negated.

This then leads us to the new problems that the saturation of TPGs has created. The following list is just a few of the "problems with TPGs" I have observed.

- "Condition rarity" - the phenomenon of paying ridiculous prices for common coins, just because those coins were in a "rare" grade.

- The related phenomenon where a tiny increase in grade can result in a massive increase in price - which in turn leads to the "crackout game" of constantly re-submitting coins for that small chance of a grade bump. Which in turn leads to unreliability of the population reports.

- The imposition of gradeflated US grading standards onto non-US coin series. This was a major argument many local coin dealers took against TPGs a couple of decades ago here in Australia. A coin graded as "EF40" by an American TPG simply isn't "EF" by Australian grading standards - it'd be lucky to make VF. This in turn means either abandoning the local standard in favour of the American one, or the necessity of teaching two similar but non-compatible grading standards: "Yes, the slab says it's EF, but for local pricing, you need to look up the VF price".

- Competitive Lowballing - where people deliberately try to wear down a coin to try to attain the elusive "P-1" grade. Deliberately degrading a coin to make it more sought after (and profitable) is the antithesis of what coin collectors should be doing to their coins.

- Rather than seeing a premium for slabbed coins, when slabbed coins become "normalized", non-slabbed coins are given a steep discount and/or treated with suspicion. "If it's a problem-free coin, why isn't it slabbed yet?". Which in effect punishes people for not keeping up with the latest in slab fashion, or spending money in slabbifying their collection.

- Registry sets. I'm not entirely sure that coin collecting as a whole, benefits from being turned into a competitive sport.

- The canonization of falsehoods. If a TPG says a coin is of a certain mintmark, variety or finish, then it must be so - even if other experts disagree as to the TPG's assertion. I recall some discussion about certain non-existent Australian predecimal proof coins, which the TPGs have graded examples as "proof". There are catalogues that now list the existence of those proof coins - even though none were actually made - all on the say-so of a TPG.

- The encouragement of numismatic laziness. The first edition of the Coin Collectors Survival Manual (1984) had good, solid advice for newbies about grading: learn to grade. Don't trust anybody's word for it, look at the coin yourself. The current edition of the Coin Collectors Survival Manual tells newbies not to bother learning about grading yourself, you won't be able to do it properly, so just trust the TPGs, for they can do no wrong. But the only thing keeping the TPGs in check is a sceptical, educated collector base that can tell when a TPG is wrong, and that can't happen once TPGs become a cult.

- Shipping. Coins might get delayed, lost in transit, or damaged. This is exacerbated by collectors in non-North-American countries, where shipping rare coins can be slow, expensive, bureaucratic and risky.
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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