Hobbies: Coin Collecting
5 Reasons to Collect Certified and Graded Coins
by Robert L Taylor, JD
Why should a coin collector and investor buy and collect professionally graded and certified coins? Commonly called "slabs", they are housed in a protective plastic holder. There are many companies - over a dozen are less than 2 years old - which will put your coin in a slab after Certifying that it is Authentic, and assigning a Grade to the coin. The first reason for buying and collecting Certified and Graded Coins applies to all of these companies. However, the most important reasons apply only to the Top Four companies: PCGS, NGC, ANACS, and ICG.
Reason No 1. To Protect Your Coin from Damage.
Visible Damage, which includes anything from finger prints/oils to being stepped on. More importantly, Environmental Damage, including such things as exposure to the air, or the wrong kind of air, chemicals in the air, and touching other objects (e.g.: certain plastics, liquids, food) and other coins, which will change the appearance and even structure of the coin. Damage causes loss of Value, which means Your Investment. A slab is an air tight container, and its purpose is Protection.
Reason No 2. To Establish Authenticity.
You want and need to know that your coin is not only the Real thing, but that it has not been altered (changing a mint mark - fraud) or changed, for example by cleaning, polishing, changing the appearance or surface of the coin, in any way that would render your coin unfit to collect. If it is Unfit to Collect, there won't be many Buyers or Sellers. Many coins graded by lesser companies end up getting Rejected by one of the Top Four for these reasons.
Reason No 3. To Establish Identity.
Is that 1909 Lincoln penny a VDB? Did you overlook the "S" mint mark. Is it a Type 1 or Type 2? These little identifying marks can mean the difference between a $20 coin and one worth $35,000. We all make mistakes and overlook or miss, mint marks, details, and certain other identifying factors which make up "Varieties" of each coin. It is the professional's duty to look for, and establish these things to determine a coin's true Identity.
Reason No 4. To Establish the Coin's Grade.
A coin's Grade is what determines its Value. You want Good Value when you Buy the coin. You want to get what you pay for (or more) and not get cheated. When you get ready to Sell or Upgrade, you want to get the most for your coin. You have to Know what your coin is Worth! The Grade is always an Issue when Buying and Selling a Collectible Coin. Having the coin Professionally Certified and Graded virtually eliminates this Issue, and the Arguments. This is Your Neutral Third Party.
Reason No 5. Trust and Credibility.
The Top Four companies are Consistent, Reliable and Trustworthy. They have Established and Respected Reputations. Their Standards are the Highest and the Best. You are taking a Risk when buying a certified and graded coin from any other company. When you Sell a Certified and Graded Coin, it will speak for you. The reputation of the Grading Company will firmly establish the Grade of the Coin. This translates into the Value or Worth of the Coin.
It is possible to buy and sell a coin that is Certified and Graded by one of the Top Four, sight unseen, and know exactly what you are getting. From a description of the coin (e.g.: 1903 O, MS66, NGC, Morgan #034), you know what you are buying, and what to expect. It always helps to have a little description of its appearance, such as "white hot" or "slight reverse toning", since there is one limitation to selling a Certified and Graded coin sight unseen: It is still possible to buy an ugly coin. But that is why we have scanners, fax and email.
Therefore, as a Coin Collector and Investor, always collect Certified and Graded coins by one of the Top Four. It is the most reasonable way to verify authenticity and identity of every coin in your collection, as well as to establish a reliable Value. Every source of prices for any coin, be it a yearly book, magazine, a weekly or monthly newsprint; all base their prices on the Grading Standards of the Top Four grading companies, which strictly follow the ANA (American Numismatic Association) guidelines. If the Grade of your coin does not measure up to these Standards, then you are only guessing at the Value.
Take advantage of the benefits of buying and collecting certified and graded coins. Guaranteed are the Authenticity, Identity and Grade of your coin by the grading company. You will be able to place a value or worth of your coin and collection with relative certainty, and when it comes time to sell or upgrade your coins, you will find a larger and more willing pool of buyers, who will be looking for the same benefits that you have found.
Robert L Taylor, JD
Copyright ©2008, Robert L Taylor, JD
About the Author
Robert Taylor is a retired Lawyer, from Denver, CO, who has had a passion for collecting US coins, since the age of 6. Wanting to share his Passion, he made available The Perfect Coin which features US Rare and Modern Coins (from 1960) and made available Perfect Dollar Coins featuring US Dollar Coins (from 1878), all Certified and Graded by NGC, PCGS, ICG and ANACS.