US Coins

Bowers on the importane of grading-service guarantees

The Joys of Collecting column from the Oct. 17, 2016, weekly issue of Coin World:

Just as it was years ago, it is up to a sophisticated buyer endeav­oring to build a great collection to study the coin itself or, today unlike yesteryear, a needle-sharp image of it. A certified coin is a great start.

Last week I gave positive aspect No. 1 for a coin “slabbed” by a third-party grading service: The numbers on slabs appear to newcomers to be scientific and precise. Hence, certification acts like a magnet to bring thousands of new faces into numismatics, who might not come if only “Mint State,” “Very Fine,” or other adjectives were used.

2016 Standing Liberty gold quarter dollar   Q. David Bowers: The advantages third-party grading offers collectors: "On balance, I believe that third-party certification has been a great boon to coin prices and to the market in general," Bowers writes. "It has other advantages as well."

Many of these arrivals seek quick investment profits, usually don’t find such, and then leave. However, the positive aspect is that many stay, join the American Numismatic Association, subscribe to Coin World, and become long-term enthusiasts. I hasten to say that writing these words in my column is like preaching to the choir: those that need these facts and opinions don’t read this newspaper! Many are clueless all-around.

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Positive aspect No. 2: Profess­ional Coin Grading Service and Numismatic Guaranty Corp. guarantee the authenticity of the coins they certify. 

Some other services may as well, and you should check. That’s because there are more fake coins on the market than ever before.

According to research, most are struck from dies and made in China. If you buy a fake on the Internet or elsewhere, and if it is not certified, it is usually difficult if not impossible to prevent a total loss. 

Industry Council For Tangible Assets, the ANA, Early American Coppers, the Civil War Token Society, and some others are working behind the scenes to combat such coins, with former Coin World editor Beth Deisher in the front row. I am helping as well. 

If PCGS and NGC holders stated nothing at all about the grade of a coin, they would be worthwhile for guaranteeing authenticity alone. You may or may not know that in the mid-1970s the American Numismatic Association Certification Service was set up in Washington, D.C., later to move to Colorado Springs, Colo.

A fine staff of talented people was devoted to examining countless thousands of coins, for a fee, and returning authentic pieces with photo certificates. This on its own was a great step forward.

Today PCGS and NGC do this as part of their programs. Not to worry. Very comforting.

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