by Scott A. Travers
1869-S_50c_ms67_eliasberg “ Independent third-party certification and encapsulation. ” It ’ randomness quite a taste to say, and it ’ s every snatch american samoa important as it sounds .
Simply stated, “ slabbing ” has revolutionized the rare mint market, basically changing the manner people buy and sell coins .
Since its introduction in 1986 by the Professional Coin Grading Service ( PCGS ), slabbing–the encapsulation of coins in sonically sealed, arduous plastic holders with tamper-evident holograms–has greatly diminished the grade controversy that plagued the market prior to that meter. It besides has eased the crisis of confidence that up to then was spreading insidiously through the market. nowadays, there is far-flung acceptance of the grades assigned to rare coins by PCGS and the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America ( NGC ). But while the Slab Revolution has been a enormous benediction, it besides has given emanation to a count of misconceptions–some of them downright myths–among the coin- buy public. Some of these have flush been perpetrated, or perpetuated, by members of the numismatic press–the very journalists whose cognition, integrity and independence serve as security system blankets for their readers. Some of these misconceptions are reasonably obvious ; others are much more elusive. But either means, a myth is a good as a mile.

here, then, is my list of the 10 greatest myths about slabbing :
MYTH NO. 1: You can’t get ripped off when you buy a certified coin.
This is absolutely not the case : You can get a frightful distribute on any kind of mint if you choose the wrong principal. attest coins offer important safeguards. First and foremost, they carry grades assigned to them by unprejudiced experts–informed, freelancer assessments regarding their level of preservation–and these provide protection against overgrading by unscrupulous sellers. It ’ s up to the consumer to correlate this grade with a dependable price guidebook stating how much each coin is deserving in the destine level of preservation .
In one recent case some years back, a coin franchise grossly overcharged customers for coins which had been certified by major grade services. The grading itself was fine, and many of the coins were highly rare and highly desirable. The problem : The dealer priced the coins at multiples of their clean market measure. Just because a coin is accurately graded, that doesn ’ thymine beggarly it ’ second fairly priced. Overpricing besides occurred in connection with esoteric coins which have been certified–unusual pattern coins, for case. Often, these coins fall into grey areas and people have difficulty determining their value. You might have a coin of which merely three examples have been independently certified–but that doesn ’ t inevitably mean that it ’ s worth a bang-up deal of money.

You need to do your homework–your research–in order to establish the bazaar market respect of any coins you ’ re concern in buying. just because a coin has been independently certified doesn ’ thymine base it ’ s a good value.The first step in protecting yourself as a consumer is to get the coin by rights certified, and the second mistreat is to pay a average price at the adjust meter in the market cycle .
MYTH NO. 2: All slabbed Mint State-65 coins are created equal. Coin grade is performed on a spectrum–on a continuum. Some coins are high-end for a given grade, some are low-end. Some coins graded 65 are magnificent–beaming with luster and shimmering in their tempt, to the point where they might be barely a haircloth away from meriting a grade of 66. Others are dirty, lackluster, spotted or lightly fingerprinted, and barely qualify as 65s. hush others are somewhere in between .
NGC recognized this early on by using the letters A, B and C internally in the grade room. soon after NGC ’ s founding in 1987, I worked there for three years as a part-time grader. If we looked at a mint that we believed was a high-end 65 ( or a high-end coin of any grad, for that matter ), we would use the letter
“ A. ” If we believed it was a low-end coin, we would use the letter “ C. ” And if we believed it was in between, we ’ five hundred consumption no letter at all or the letter “ B. ” To add to the confusion ( or at least to the complexity ), there are A-plus and A-minus coins, C-plus and C-minus coins and so forth.

My discussions and explanations in populace forums of this coin grading spectrum were grim over many years. Despite David Hall, collapse of PCGS, publicly disagreeing with my explanation, in 2010, he did an about-face and asked me to introduce PCGS ’ s new system of recognizing that coins are graded on a spectrum. PCGS introduced “ plus ” grade, and I cheerfully accepted the post of its paid spokesman in the rollout. NGC caught up promptly and joined the “ plus ” rotation, recognizing with PCGS that not all coins of the same grad are equal–at least not all coins bearing higher grades .
so whether the coin is graded with or without a plus, you should take a stopping point look at any coin you ’ re think of buying, even if it ’ s housed in a slab. If it looks attractive to you, it might identical well be attractive to person else, as well. But if it looks atrocious to you–if it looks as if you had taped it to the penetrate of your horseshoe and tap-danced on it–then sink on the coin and tap-dance to the following distribute .
MYTH NO. 3: Population and census reports tell you exactly how many coins are available. For a number of years, PCGS and NGC have been issuing
periodic population and census reports detailing how many
coins of each date, mint and type they have certified in each
of the respective grades–and these can be highly utilitarian to
buyers and sellers. By no means, however, should these be
considered accurate reflections of how many different coins
are actually available.
The problem is, these reports contain no reproducible corrective
mechanism to account for resubmissions–cases where the like
coin is submitted over and over in hopes that it will receive
a higher mark the second, third, one-fourth or fiftieth time around.
A given mint might have been graded dozens of times because
the submitter thought it might be given the next-higher grade
and therefore command a much higher price. In such a situation,
the population and census reports can be extremely
Take the case of a coin worth $ 1,000 in Mint State-64
and $ 10,000 in Mint State-65. If it ’ s a very high-end MS-64
piece, its owner might crack it out of its holder multiple
times and keep resubmitting it, trying to get it upgrade to
65 and therefore increase its market value $ 9,000. The population
and census reports do not correct for this abnormality.
MYTH NO. 4 : Slabbing has established a completely fixed,
wholly coherent grading standard.
The marking services may indeed have striven for
wholly fixed, wholly coherent grading standards. But
the realities of the marketplace–and of the slabbing
business–have at the identical least created the perception that
the standards have not remained fixed.
The Rosen Numismatic Advisory, an award-winning
newsletter published by grocery store analyst Maurice Rosen,
conducts a “ quartz glass ball ” survey each year in which leading
professionals in the coin industry express their views on the
market. In the 1994 sketch, about every participant
stated that since the mid- to late 1980s, grading standards
have loosened at both PCGS and NGC–despite representations
by the companies and their backers that the standards have
been fixed.
These experts could be wrong, of course–but evening if
they were, complete preciseness and total consistency are
impossible in the real number world. Almost any dealer who handles
certified coins will tell you that although the services ’
standards are sanely consistent today, they are surely
not wholly consistent–and it ’ s possible to take a high-end
65 one day, crack it out of its holder, and adjacent day get a
grade of 66.
In the confront of falling revenues caused by declining
interest in rare coins, the rate services might very well
be tempted to increase their business by loosening their
grade standards slenderly.
MYTH NO. 5 : Slabbed coins protect you against volatility
and make better investments than unslabbed coins.
This argument is indeed fallacious that PCGS
warns consumers that this is NOT the sheath. In its
literature, it places the keep up
statement : “ authentication by PCGS does not guarantee
auspices against the normal risks associated with
potentially explosive markets. The degree of liquidity of
PCGS-certified coins will vary according to general market
conditions and according to the particular mint involved. For
some coins, there may be no active agent marketplace at all at certain
points in time. ”
If anything, the second coming of certification actually has
created more volatility in the market. And limiting your
purchases to certified coins isn ’ metric ton going to protect you from
this volatility. Let ’ s say a Mint State-65 Saint-Gaudens
double eagle is deserving $ 1,050 sight-unseen in a slab and
on the spur of the moment the sight-unseen price increases to $ 1,500 and then,
at the snap of a feel, plunges in a day down to $ 900. The
fact that the coin is certified will enable you to sell it at
its high when it ’ sulfur $ 1,500 … or sell it promptly at its gloomy
for $ 900–but won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate protect you against the market conditions
themselves. Anyone who thinks or says otherwise doesn ’ thyroxine
understand the nature of the marketplace or is
misrepresenting the room the market works.
Buying slabbed coins helps to protect you against two
primary risks : the learning risk and the sale risk. The
skill risk is the risk that you might overpay when you
buy a mint. With a slabbed coin, the rate is established and
all you have to do is look in a price steer to be sure you ’ re
not overpaying. The sale risk is the gamble that you might be
offered less than a coin is worth when you go to sell it–
that person might offer you a Mint State-63 price for a Mint
State-65 coin. Again, with a slabbed coin, you know the grade
and thus can determine the prize quite readily.
Certification doesn ’ t necessarily make coins a better
investment, but it does eliminate some of the acquisition
risk when you buy a coin and helps you maximize your retort
when you sell that coin.
MYTH NO. 6 : A coin can ’ metric ton devolve once it is
encapsulated in a slab.
On the reverse, the deterioration of coins–even when
housed in slabs–is a generator of growing business and
represents a trouble that ’ south probable to occupy us increasingly
over the adjacent several years.
NGC conducted some very intriguing age-acceleration
simulations in which coins that were sonically sealed in
tamper-resistant holders had their age accelerated by
decades. The results proved unsatisfactory, at least in terms
of copper coins : The coins actually deteriorated while they
were in the holders. I have seen a act of copper coins in
PCGS holders which actually broke out in spots while in the
There ’ s very no manner that a coin can be completely
protected against environmental variables, whether it ’ s in a
slab or differently. We have seen a issue of cases where
moisture in the tune permeated the holders, a well as other
cases where coins made of highly susceptible and vulnerable
metals such as copper were, in a sense, choking in their
holders–trapped inside with airborne particulate matter
which was causing the coins to deteriorate.
Because copper coins are then susceptible to damage and
deterioration, NGC does not guarantee the grades it assigns
to them, as it does with coins produced in other metals. PCGS
does guarantee the grades of copper coins–but I have seen no
dispute in the way these coins deteriorate while
encapsulated, whether the holders came from one service or
the other.
This is a real trouble, one I sense we ’ ll have to
cover more urgently over the following several years as coins
that are susceptible grow old in holders and their
deterioration becomes more apparent.
MYTH NO. 7 : Slabbed coins can always be liquidated at
Coin Dealer Newsletter prices.
dream on ! The Coin Dealer Newsletter ( familiarly known
as the Greysheet ) does not determine the marketplace ; the
marketplace is supposed to determine the values that are
listed in The Coin Dealer Newsletter–and frequently, there ’ s a
bang-up discrepancy.
To cite just one example, the monthly Coin Dealer
Newsletter listings for Mint State-65 Barber half dollars
early on this year were, in my opinion, barely about double what
they should have been. There were coins listed for $ 6,000
which my own company, Scott Travers Rare Coin Galleries of
New York, was offering to clients for half that much– $ 3,000
to $ 3,500. many CDN prices are notoriously high. conversely,
if you have one of these Barber half dollars and you see it
listed for $ 6,000 in the CDN Monthly Summary, don ’ triiodothyronine think you
can sell it for $ 6,000. You might be lucky to get $ 3,000 for
it. There are many exchangeable examples, but this should suffice.
The Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter ( or Bluesheet ) is
more accurate, specially for generic, fungible coins–coins
which are available in great quantity and tend to duplicate
each other. The Bluesheet is surely a better mirror image of
market conditions than the Greysheet.
But once you start talking about truly rare coins
costing many thousands of dollars, the publishers of the
Bluesheet and Greysheet have greater difficulty determining
the levels at which these coins actually trade, and have
difficulty confirming transactions. As a consequence, the
price levels listed in these guides become less authentic for
such coins.
Just because a coin has a value of $ 20,000 or $ 30,000 in
the Bluesheet or Greysheet, there ’ s no assurance at all that
you can get that a lot for it if you sell it. The transaction
reflected in the number may have occurred many months ago
and the market may have dropped 10 or 15 percentage in the
MYTH NO. 8 : Slabbing has attracted billions of dollars
from Wall Street, and the money is here to stay.
The money that entered the coin commercialize from Wall Street
sources, through limited partnerships, amounted to millions
of dollars, not billions. And to those Wall Street sources–
companies such as Merrill Lynch and Kidder Peabody–this was
in truth an experiment. On Wall Street, where stocks craft at
the rate of $ 40 million per minute, rare-coin funds totaling
$ 10 million each, or $ 20 million–or even $ 50 million–
preceptor ’ thymine represent a major outgo.
The experiment proved to be abortive ; as a leave,
the money left the mint market a quickly as it had arrived.
Given that experience, it ’ second highly improbable that new Wall
Street money will be flowing into the coin market anytime
soon–and anyone who says it will return soon is either
misinformed or an outright liar.
MYTH NO. 9 : cheap slabbed coins are always worth
at least adenine much as the tip you pay to get them certified.
This is a myth with extra invoke to the unwary. many
non-knowledgeable investors buying cheap coins feel
comfortable paying $ 40 or $ 50 each for these coins because
that represents such a modest markup over the certification
fee. They assume that since the slabbing tip was $ 25 and
they ’ re paying just $ 15 or $ 25 more than that, they must be
getting a dependable deal.
The fact is, coins can and do change hands for less than
the come of the certificate fee. When all is said and
done, you ’ re buy the mint, not the plastic, and you should
never pay more than the coin itself is deserving. many
cheap coins–common-date silver dollars and mod U.S.
coins, for example–are promptly available for importantly
less than what it cost to get them certified.
MYTH NO. 10 : It ’ second easy to crack slabbed coins out of
their holders.
In reality, it takes a great deal of time and feat to
remove a mint from a slab–and it takes flush more meter and
attempt, combined with virtual experience, to avoid damaging
the mint in the process. These holders are sonically sealed,
and they ’ rhenium mean to be permanent wave. facilitate of removal wasn ’ t a
key concern in their design.
Dealers often do crack coins out of slab in arrange to
resubmit them in quest of a higher grade–and evening they have
disturb on occasion. If you go to a coin show, you ’ ll
sometimes see dealers trying in bootless to remove such coins.
occasionally, when an inexperienced person does the crack,
you ’ ll even see coins fall to the shock as they ’ rhenium being
This sort of thing can be traumatic, and I strongly
recommend that if you want some coins cracked out of slab
and you ’ re not an technical yourself, you entrust the job to a
There you have them : 10 basic myths about slabbing.
Do these misconceptions tarnish the achievements of the
Slabbing Revolution or diminish the contributions it has
made ?
not at all.
Third-party certificate has been highly beneficial for
numismatics. But, like anything else, it needs to be put in
position. It needs to be viewed in a authorize, bright light,
not through rose-colored glasses.
The truth–not the myth–is that even under a
searchlight, slabbing still looks very good indeed .

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