Coin Grading Services Are Not All Equal.

Have you noticed that a coin graded by one grading service as MS65 will sell for a dramatically different price than the same coin graded by another service as MS65? A great deal of the difference is the different quality the market assigns to coins graded by one service versus another service. One grading service (GEC) Grade Evaluation Co. only grades coins as MS67 no other grade.

PCGS, NGC, ICG, and ANACS are generally recognized as the most reliable grading services in terms of the quality and consistency of their grading. While coin grading is very subjective, consistency in grading is necessary if the investor is to make rational decisions when investing in coins. Most coin grading companies attempt to comply with the grading standards established by the American Numismatic Association (website  The market seems to believe that these four services accomplish these standards the best. The market frequently discounts other grading services by one or more grades.

Unfortunately, there are a number of grading services whose coin grading is virtually useless. When I first started buying on e-bay I purchased a 1923 S Peace Dollar that was graded by HCGS (Hallmark Coin Grading Service) as an MS66.  When I received the coin, I could not believe my eyes.  There were clear signs of wear and virtually no detail in the hairline or the breast feathers. Most of the mint luster was gone.  I showed it to a local coin dealer whose opinion I respect and he had a good laugh. He agreed with my estimate that the coin would be graded at best as an AU50 and possibly as low as an XF40 by PCGS, NGC, ICG,or ANACS.

Fortunately mine and other e-bayer guides warning of HCGS has driven most HCGS graded coins out of the e-bay market. Likely the sellers have had them re-slabbed by another third class grading services. There are plenty of con artists that will change their names and open up a new grading service. Just in the last year a NEW grading service has appeared with MANY coins (Grade Evaluation Co.), but all of the GEC (Grade Evaluation Co.) coins are graded as MS67. They apparently do not issue a grade lower than MS67. If you believe that all their MS67 coins are true MS67 coins, I have some swamp land in Florida I would like to sell to you.

I did a recent search for peace dollar listings where the coin was “Certified” by a grading service as MS66 or MS67. There were 18 (eighteen) MS67 peace dollars and 45 (forty-five) MS66 peace dollars found in this search. Of the eighteen MS67s only 1 (ONE) had been graded MS67 by one of the top four (PCGS, NGC, ICG, or ANACS) and only 6 (SIX) of the 45 peace dollars graded MS66 had been graded by one of the top four. When you look at the remaining grading services for the MS66 and MS67 peace dollars almost invariably, the grading services with the greatest number of MS66 and MS67 coins on e-bay are the WORST GRADING SERVICES in terms of quality.

Please remember, when e-bay coin dealers indicate a price trends for the coin they are selling, they are almost always using the PCGS price guide, which is the retail price PCGS estimates a PCGS graded coin will sell for in that grade. However, frequently the same grade of coin graded by a grading service other that PCGS, NGC, ICG, or ANACS will command a dramatically lower price.

While the values of PCGS, NGC, ICG, and ANACS graded coins might approach the price trends for a date and mint mark, other grading services will be discounted by the market from the price paid for coins graded by PCGS, NGC, ICG, and ANACS.  This discount can be as little as two grades and as much as 4 or 5 grades or more depending on the value the market sets for a particular grading services opinion. Please remember the PCGS price trends are the top average RETAIL PRICE a particular coin should sell for.  On e-bay even PCGS graded coins are usually sold at a discount to the trends unless it is a particularly rare date. Even then recently I saw a very rare date PCGS Peace Dollar sell for significantly below bluesheet wholesale (wholesale prices for graded coins – see

While there are four quality grading services, there are MANY DOGS, Hallmark Coin Grading Service (HCGS) is an example. There are to many UNRELIABLE grading services to name, but NNC, ANI, TRUGRADE, INB, PGS, GEC, HCGS PEGS, SGS,etc. are just a few. The coin dealers newsletter (at gives a percentage ranking of the major grading services. If the grading service you are considering IS NOT rated in the top four on the greysheet WATCH OUT.

Recently I received a message from an e-bayer who had bought a number of SGS graded modern coins that were all graded MS70. When he received the coins he found surface sratches and said they clearly had been overgraded by a number of grades. He promptly returned the coins. Always return coins that you feel do not meet the ANA grading standards even if a grading service has slabbed them as MS70.  However, please think twice about returning a PCGS, NGC, ICG, or ANACS graded coin since they are the most reliable grading services. If you disagree with their grading educate yourself on the ANA standards. I personally no longer accept returns on these four grading services.

To show how incompetent some grading services can be,  I recently found a coin on e-bay where the date on the slab was not the date of the coin contained in the slab (An SGS graded coin). If a coin grading service can not properly read the date on a coin how can you rely on their grading?

Regarding ICG, this is the newest of the most reliable grading services, but the market is giving a very positive response to ICG graded coins and ICG is well rated by   I have been told by another e-bayer that ICG is different from PCGS or NGC in that their officers and employees are prohibited from trading privately.  This should helps minimize conflicts of interest in assigning grades. I have not yet had the time to checkout all the grading services policies regarding private trading by their graders but it is a great policy if true.

SO BUYER BEWARE, unless you are familiar with the quality of the grading service for the coin on which you  are bidding. Please note, some of the grading services with the most coins on e-bay have some of the poorest quality of grading. If you wish to bid on one of the less desireable grading services you should deduct three or four grades at a minimum in evaluating the coins you are considering. As I mentioned in my example above, even though I bid as though the HCGS coin was an MS60 instead of the MS66 shown, I still got stuck, since the coin was less than AU.

Regarding NNC Grading Service (National Numistmatic Certification), if you read their website they appear to have a tolerance level for cleaned coins, that other grading services do not. Avoid NNC graded coins if possible. If you bid on an NNC coin discount the grade by at least six or seven grades.

peacedollarguy, ebay


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: