US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Nov. 28, 2022: Grading service changes

Images of mock-ups for NGCX encapsulations.

Images courtesy of Numismatic Guaranty Company.

Big changes are happening in the third-party grading service wing of the numismatic community — changes that could have a significant effect when implemented early in 2023.

A few weeks ago, Certified Acceptance Corp. announced that it would go into the coin grading business in 2023, expanding and eventually replacing the stickering business it offers. More recently, Numismatic Guaranty Co. announced a new “10-point” grading scale to complement the Sheldon 1–70 scale in use by all grading services since the mid-1980s.

For years, the grading service business has been dominated by Professional Coin Grading Service (founded 1986) and Numismatic Guaranty Co. (established in 1987), with the oldest firm, ANACS (it began grading coins in 1979), serving its own portion of the numismatic community. Other grading firms exist as well, though they compete in the shadows cast by NGC and PCGS.

Will CAC Grading be able to compete with the two biggest firms? Observers point to John Albanese, a co-founder of PCGS and founder of both NGC and CAC, as one of the most knowledgeable professional numismatists in the business. No one would argue against the success of these firms; Albanese has a remarkable track record. Ultimately, though, the marketplace will determine where the new firm sits at the grading table.

NGC’s new service, NGCX, appears to be a test bed for how wedded the numismatic community is to the Sheldon scale. The “10-point” scale will be offered only for coins issued since 1982, and NGC has already lined up a network of dealers who will be offering “generic” coins like American Eagle bullion coins bearing the new grades. The new scale does not replace the old scale (yet, anyway) and seems directed at new collectors. Similar scales are used for grading comic books, videotapes and similar collectibles, so a collector base familiar with the current scales in those fields may be more comfortable buying coins where “10” is perfect than in purchasing an identical coin graded 70. If the new scale is popular enough, the old scale’s days could be numbered.
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