As mentioned in the previous article, there are some top notch Top Coin Coin Grading companies. PCGS, NGS, ANACS, and a newer company ICG have managed to obtain and sustain reputations of dependability. They do have different but similar submitting criteria, services, and pricing. PCGS and NGS will not grade a “problem” coin, however both of these companies do have a little better reputation than ANACS and ICG both of which will grade “problem” coins and note the “problem” on the label. Each company has their limitations and it is important to check each one to make sure it will be able to service the coin to be certified. Refund and warranty policies also vary and all information should be read thoroughly.
ANACS (American Numismatic Association Certification Service) is the first grading company. It was created by the ANA (American Numismatic Association in 1972 when they recognized the need for a service to distinguish counterfeit and altered coins which was plaguing the market at the time. Their two experts were located in Washington DC giving them access to the Smithsonian, the Treasury Department, and specifically the Secret Service. By 1976 ANACS was well established and adding to its staff moved to Colorado. It began grading coins in 1979 using the ANA’s new book of grading standards “The Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards for United States Coins”. They have been grading the obverse and reverse separately and creating photo certificates with both grades it was several years later before slabbing and labeling each coin began.
PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) began in 1986 and started implementing slabbing of all their certified graded coins. They do cover an extensive selection of US coin variations there are some they do not. Companies do charge for certifying a variation requested therefore you’ll want to make sure they are verifying the submitted coin’s variation. They will authenticate “problem” coins but they will not grade them. In order to obtain any of PCGS services the coin submitter must be a member. There are various membership levels with different benefits for different fees. This and other information can be found on their website.
NGS (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation) began is 1987. Besides certifying US coins they also will certify a wide range of ancient and other World coins. Their website has most of the relevant information about their parameters of the coins they service. There are some US varieties they do not cover and it should be verified that the coin variation is covered. NGS will authenticate but does not grade “problem” coins. In order to obtain any of PCGS services the coin submitter must be a member. There are various membership levels with different benefits for different fees. This and other information can be found on their website.
ICG (Independent Coin Graders) is the most recent to the list of Top Coin Grading Companies but the two gentlemen who started ICG have extraordinary credentials and it is not surprising IGC has the excellent reputation it has gained. IGC’s website gives an extensive list of reference books and they indicate they will verify any variety described in any of these books and stipulate that if the coin’s variety is found in a different resource that they are opened to being contacted with the relevant information and will reply accordingly. They also certify World coins from 1600 to now (Japanese and China from 1870). They will grade “problem” coins and describe the “problem” on the coin’s slab label.
Even these Top Coin Grading Companies are not perfect and have been shown to vary in opinion as to the grade of a coin. Inaccuracy and mistakes are a part of the human condition and even these expert graders are susceptible to making mistakes. Another problem is an increasing number of counterfeit slabs have been turning up including the ‘tamper proof’ slabs used by PCGS and NGS. Sometimes with the proper labeling for the coin inside, which sometimes are of a lower grade but more often are counterfeit, but the corresponding certification numbers are authentic and match the company’s certification inventory. This seems to be rare however unmonitored website seller; like EBay are susceptible and it is best to use sellers that have sufficient full return policies that will allow for verification of purchases. Heritage Auctions house has on-line bidding and their own experts which oversee offered items and have decades of experience auctioning coins. Inevitably a better slab will come about. As always, coin collecting can be a risky venture, and the old adage still applies; “caveat emptor”.