US Coins

Mysterious CAC gold stickers

This Mint State 63 1908 Saint-Gaudens $20 double eagle with a Certified Acceptance Corp. gold sticker realized what an MS-66 example of the same coin would bring when it was offered at a November 2012 auction.


In its five years, Certified Acceptance Corp. has had more than 429,000 coins submitted to it.

Of those coins, just 1,754 have received the coveted CAC gold sticker. It’s a bit of a numismatic legend, in that CAC gold stickers are infrequently found.

What kind of coin gets a CAC gold sticker? CAC founder John Albanese describes it as a coin that could “easily green sticker at the next highest grade level.”

He adds that the vast majority of the coins that receive CAC gold stickers are not great rarities, but just relatively common coins that are exceptional for the grade.

That makes sense, because if someone had a rare coin and it was undergraded by several points, one would think that the coin’s value would be maximized by getting the coin into the highest possible grade.

For example, in a Nov. 30, 2012, Heritage auction, a 1908 Saint-Gaudens, No Motto $20 double eagle, in a first generation Professional Coin Grading Service Mint State 63 holder with gold CAC sticker, realized $2,585. Comparable MS-63 examples were selling for around $1,900 at the time and on Oct. 19, 2012, an example graded MS-66 realized $2,525.08. This is a relatively common coin even in higher grades.

Another strong price was seen when a PCGS 1936 Walking Liberty half dollar, Proof 65 with a CAC gold label, realized $7,050 at an Oct. 18, 2012, Heritage auction. That price was in line with what Proof 67 pieces were bringing at auction at the time.

Occasionally, legitimately rare coins receive CAC gold stickers and make it to auction. An 1896 Coronet quarter eagle graded Proof 65 Deep Cameo by PCGS and bearing the gold sticker realized $34,500 at an April 19, 2012, auction. An example of this issue graded PCGS Proof 65 Deep Cameo with a CAC green sticker sold for “just” $23,500 on Nov. 30, 2012.

Yet, just having a CAC gold sticker does not mean a coin is guaranteed to bring a crazy price.

On eBay, in a Dec. 16 auction, a PCGS Proof 64 red 1939 Lincoln cent realized $137.50, while on eBay in a Nov. 24 transaction, a 1938-D Indian Head 5-cent piece graded MS-65 realized $99. Both sales resulted in strong but not exorbitant prices from collectors intending to add a coin with a CAC gold sticker to their collection. The jumps in price for the next higher grade for both of these issues are modest. ¦

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