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
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
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
Robert L Taylor, JD
Copyright ©2006, Robert L Taylor, JD
About the Author
Robert Taylor is a retired Lawyer, from Denver,
CO, and who has had a passion for collecting US
coins, since the age of 6. Wanting to share his
Passion, he created http://www.ThePerfect-Coin.Com
which features US Rare and Modern Coins (from
1960) and http://www.PerfectDollarCoins.Com
featuring US Dollar Coins (from 1878), all
Certified and Graded by NGC, PCGS, ICG and ANACS.