Independent Grading Services
Grading is the procedure by which the condition (grade) of a coin is determined. This is one of the most important elements in rare coin investing since the value of a coin depends largely on it's grade. The higher the grade, the more valuable the coin. In the past, it was very important to have a dealer that was not only trustworthy but also skilled enough to accurately grade coins. Even having a well-known and reputable dealer wasn't enough in some cases. There were legitimate disagreements between experts as to the grade of a coin based solely on the personal preference of the dealers. In 1986, the controversy in grading intensified with a statement by the American Numismatic Association Certification Service (ANACS) advising the industry that over time, grading standards had changed. Out of the confusion that followed, many firms began coin grading services. The most successful has been the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America (NGC). They both enjoy a wide industry acceptance.

For the coin investor, it is important to know that the prices of only PCGS and NGC coins are reported weekly in the independent publication, the Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter (CCDN). Further, only PCGS and NGC graded coins have an established sight-unseen pricing market. That is, the bid price dealers are offering for a coin that is graded by one of these services without looking at the coin. Remember, certified coin prices are not interchangeable. The price of a MS65 coin graded by PCGS cannot be obtained by looking at the price of the same MS65 coin graded by NGC. There are often differences in values. The column for coin prices in the CCDN listing PCGS coins must be used only for PCGS coins. The same holds true with NGC coins. There are other independent grading firms, but due to their lack of impact among dealers and collectors, they are best left to the collector market who will buy the coin based on it's merits rather than the certificate. This is one of the main reasons that the investor should hold only PCGS or NGC graded coins in his portfolio.

Listed below are the major grading services and comments for investors.

Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). Newport Beach, CA. Established in 1986. Largest grading firm, over 4,000,000 coins graded (as of November 1997) with value in excess of $4 billion. Prices reported weekly in CCDN.

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). Parsippany, NJ. Established in 1988. Smaller firm approximately 2,500,000 coins graded. Popular with gold coin investors. Prices reported weekly in CCDN.

ANACS. Columbus, OH. Established in 1990. Formerly the American Numismatic Association Certification Service. The ANA sold the service to Amos Press in 1991, which now uses the same initials for the grading service. Prices are reported once a month in a supplement to CCDN.

Photo-Certified Institute (PCI). Chattanooga, TN. PCI acquired another latter-day grading service, Hallmark, and combined operations. Not a major player in grading with the industry. One of the cheapest services to use, however, not much weight is given their grading opinion. Prices reported monthly in CCDN.

The above are the main grading services. There were many others, such as Numismatic Certification Institute (NCI), International Numismatic Society (INS), CompuGrade, Exactagrade, AccuGrade and others. However, prices have not been established for such graded coins, and the investor is well advised to avoid these coins. Many telemarketers sell coins that have been graded by these services but price them according to the PCGS values in the CCDN. This is improper and deceptive according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The main point for you, the investor is simply this. Deal only with coins that are graded by either PCGS or NGC. This will provide you with the most accepted and therefore most liquid form of this investment asset.

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