James, thanks much for investing your time with us this evening. It was a pleasure and very illuminating in January and it is gratifying to see you return to us.
As you are probably better aware than most of us, some (many?) dealers and collectors will crack a coin out of a slab and resubmit it repeatedly in an attempt to catch a grading company at the right moment to secure one higher grade. With certain coins (e.g. 1883-S Morgan, from MS-63 to MS-64), the value difference between one grade and the next can be hundreds or thousands of dollars thus making the repeated submission fees worthwhile if the coin happens to make it to the next grade.
My question is multi-variant: First, if a coin is submitted often enough, does it eventually become familiar enough to the graders that they realize they've seen it before and take appropriate action, vis a vis returning it in the same grade as before with a little note stating that "We know what you are doing."? And second, repeated submissions of the same coin after being cracked out of its slab is eventually going to have an impact on that coin series' date-mint population report, particularly if it is a limited population. Does ANACS have some means for detecting such practices (e.g., photo-identification of coins, sort of a computer fingerprint matching program) or other means for at least controlling this situation?
Great question and well phrased. I've gotta hustle to answer as many questions as I can in the next hour so I may have to be more brief than I would like. *** Edited by Staff - Please review the rules that you agreed to when you registered. ***Related to posting addresses, phone numbers
I am constantly amazed that the graders recognize a coin they saw last month, or longer ago. I remember one grader saying that he can't remember people's names but he can always remember their coins. I guess that's why they are graders and not salesmen.
As for the accuracy of the pop reports, all we can at this point is ask people to send the labels back from when they crack a coin out. If you, or anyone else, has a better idea my ears are wide, wide open.
One way to encourage people to send in labels from broken slabs is to monetize them. Offer a $5 or $10 bounty for each retunred label. This will help keep population reports accurate, and you're earning the money back anyway in the resubmission fee.
Just don't let them submit the label a for a discount on the regrading of the same coin. ;)
Hi James, One way to address the problem of resubmissions would be to assign a laser-engraved identification code on each coin. You could select a specific location, such as the 12 o'clock edge, and it would be invisible except under a microscope. This is one way that diamond graders identify specific stones. The other main method, generally used in conjunction with a lasered number, involves diagramming the flaws, defects, and other notable marks on a piece of paper. This could also be done with coins.
If I ever make time to work on my coin grading overhaul idea, these methods would be implemented as part of the overall suggestions for change.
Some good ideas here, however, laser engraving a serial number on a graded coin might be viewed as "damage" and would need to be accepted by the entire numismatic community to be otherwise. Also, making it "tamper proof" might be a challenge and would likely result in further damage.
I would suggest that the premier graders, PCGS, NGC, ANACS and maybe one other, use the High-Resolution photographic equipment they currently have and use today, to document every coin they grade, even if the customer doesn't pay for the service. These photos are like "finger prints".
Highly unlikely any two coins of the same date, mint, etc. will have exactly the same markers, contact marks etc. Software is available to search for minor differences in photos. Facial recognition, finger print recognition, etc. Of course, This probably wouldn't work as well with newly minted examples but would have most impact on classic coins where I think it is most needed. Just my 2 cents.
I am NOT in favor of microscopic lasers to tag the coin in some way. That will damage the coin, even if it is not naked to the eye. I do agree that detailed, high magnification pictures and archiving those pictures can document the coin quite well. The software is getting increasingly sophisticated.
Submitting the prior label when you crack the coin out has the major disadvantage of biasing the grader as to the previous grade and may make it more likely the same grade is received. However, there still could be bias if the coin was previously graded by same company and they decide to look through the prior documented pictures and find the match. Once matched, they may end up giving the coin the same grade again and pocketing your grading fees.
It's different if you are trying to cross certification companies (from PCGS to NGC for example), because the receiving company won't have the coin documented previously (if it is the first crack out). There still might be bias if you send it in the holder as an MS63 or send the label along.
Overall, I would view the population reports with skepticism because of the crack out game. The population report should be viewed as being the maximum number existing for that particular grade, but the true number is likely lower, by perhaps 10-15% for coins that have healthy pop reports.
It would be nice to know some data on which denominations and series have the highest crack out rates (for example, I would bet Morgan dollars have a high rate of crack outs when they come back MS63 or 64, because folks want to try for a 64-66 with next submission).
I actually think at some point in this hobby, grading needs to move in the direction of being completely unbiased and computerized. It is far too subjective still and new people coming into the hobby have a very hard time with the 70 point system and understanding the + and * designations.
Why not abolish the 70 point system and go to 100, with 5 point increments? Yes, it would be painful at first. But eventually it would be a scale that most people would understand, and none of this * and + designations that do not make any sense. It's a 63 or a 64 not a 63 star. Nobody's eyes are that amazing to distinguish from a 63 and a 63 star but it falls short of a 64.
I continue to be amazed by the variation and lack of consistency of grading even Morgan dollars. Coins that look amazing getting 62 and coins with obvious cheek chatter getting 64-65. This lack of consistency in grading creates substantial problems for the hobby as a whole, because the grade dictates the value.
High resolution photography and/or scanners can effectively map and "fingerprint" a coin, which creates a signature we can use without microscopic laser that would damage the coin. We should be able to develop excellent software that can take the scan and effectively grade the coin. The software can be tested and verified against a panel of seasoned graders. The software would have to be sophisticated enough to know a weak strike, versus actual wear, and pick up on light rubs, cleanings, corrosion and more.
We already have a decent app, Coinoscope, that can instantly identify most coins by scanning the coin with the camera on your phone. That platform can be expanded upon and integrated with grading.
If I had knowledge on computers, software, and better grading knowledge, I would definitely want to develop a "grading app" or software, as it can only improve the hobby to have more consistent grading. I think whoever develops something like this will be at the forefront of transforming this hobby in a very positve way, and probably become a multi-millionaire.
I tend to agree somewhat with you about 65's looking more like 63's . Because grading is subjective it's only natural for different TPG'ers to make different calls ,why because they are humans just like you and I . Maybe a digital form of grading might solve all the problems of false or inaccurate grading numbers . I also agree about the designations * + it should be either a 64 or a 65 WHAT just to increase the value of a coin from $1,000 to $5,000 by adding a * ,come on get real that is ridiculous .