As a dealer/collector, I am always looking for the best value for my dollar when buying coins and submitting them for grading. It seems like everyday though, I get information about these fly-by-night coin grading services offering these unbelieveable prices for grading coins. I am a researcher by nature, I rarely take anothers opinion and apply it to my life, I have to look into it and form my own opinion, and this was a subject I had to investigate.
Here on EBay, I see them ALL over now... A NNC MS68 Washington Quarter 1932 D.. WOW you think, and the bidding only starts at 1000 dollars... How can a dealer be making ANY money selling such a high valued coin so cheap? Well the answer is in the grading company....
You see, in my shop, when someone brings a coin in from one of these shaddy companies, I use to send them packing, and I didnt care what the coin was, or what the grade was... Until about a month ago when a guy came in with a NNC MS68 1932 D Washington quarter...
He stated he got it off Ebay for 3500 dollars, and wanted to get my opinion and try to make some fast cash. Now I have to say this, the coin was AMAZING, which is why it caught my eye. I mean full cartwheel, solid unmarked fields, and a luster that would make you cry for this coin... IT GLEAMED. So I examined it under my scope, and sure enough, the d was real, the field were immaculate, and the coin was breathtaking. BUT......... Being in the buisness, I know one thing.. NEVER BUY CRAP you cant fully see from these companies.
So I made a deal with the guy, he has been a customer for about 3 years, that I would send it in to PCGS for regrade and reholder at my expense, and pay the agreed price upon return of the coins authenication. He agreed and off the coin went. Low and behold, my intuitions were right, The coin was a fake.. The coin had a 1932 face, and another D minted reverse.. Some mackinist had literally sawed the coin in half, and bound to different sided together. and of course in the NNC holder, you couldnt see the seem. I contacted the owner, and he spoke to the PCGS rep, and the coin was sent back. Upon recieving it, I got to see the seem, and man was if OBVIOUS.... Someone had done a good job to be honest, but it was very evident the edge of the quarter was tampered with.
Well this sparked my interest even more in these companies, so I decided to do my own trial. I like many other collectors have a few Black Cabinet Coins for professional review only might I add. So I decided to send one of them to NNC to see would happen. Now I sent a 1916 D Mercury dime in, and this thing had a added mintmark that any trained eye with 10x would spot in a moment, at a grade I would say AU50 tops. So I submitted it 17 days ago, and I got it back today.................... NNC slabbed it with a MS61 grade and had it back to me in 2 weeks..........
Now I am an honest seller, and pride myself that I have never scammed anyone intentionally, so I took this coin, diamond drilled two large holes in top, and have it on view in my shop! Before I sent it in, I got good pictures of the coin, and mintmark for show, and made a little show case about my certified MS61 1916 D Mercury dime that never was.
Now I have heard the same same horror stories about NNC, NCGS for having fake, whizzed, damaged surfaces, enviromental damage, and highly overgraded coins, which I have seen with my own eyes. Now as for TruGrade and SEGS, I have to say that they do fine in my experiences only having authenic coins, but their grades are HEAVILY over standards, and I have seen them drop as many as 5 grades upon resubmission.
In my industry of coins, here is how I rank the grading services.
PCGS and NGC - Both reputable companies, trusted and safe.. for best returns, stick with them
ANACS - The little Big brother I like to call... Solid company, but not big enough to compete with NGC and PCGS, you can buy in confidence from ANACS, and they do quite well with cross-overs to NGC specifically.
ICG and PCI - These are the last 2 companies I will consider for purchase, but only after a stiff condition review. ICG is definately the best out of these two, and alot of dealer and sellers put ICG over ANACS, and at times I do agree. You will find that these services are strict with verifying authenticity, but are lax on their grades and standards on certain types of coins, The old PCI Gold labels were alot closer than the current, but I will say these 2 are reputable, but dont buy them for the posted grade, assest the coin and buy at your price and have it reholdered thru one of the top 2 companies.
All other service are ridiculously overgraded, or just totally unreliable for purchase. I say this because at first I was a SMALL fan of SEGS, but good lord they are ridiculous now, take a look at how many MS70's they have from the 40's to 60's, it is just a joke.
Anybody with a few bucks, can open a coin grading service, dispite knowing ANYthing about coins. Go get a few holders, a few stickers, and let your 2 years say two numbers, and make that the grade on the coin... Guess what? Your a coin grading service now :) That is all these companies have done, is jump into the fastest growing coin market in 20 years and try to make a fast buck, and in turn, make even more bucks for crooked sellers who KNOWINGLY sell this stuff at these inflated grades, and wonder why clients are angry when reputable grading services send the coins back as fake, or 5 grades lower than purchased.
Remember something, If it looks to good to be true, it probably is... AND I will tell you upfront, a coin dealer WILL NOT sell a coin for less than he knows it's worth. Most dealers have tons of outlets for their coins for all situations, and they will NOT willingly sell a MS68 1932 d Washington quarter for 3500.00 :)
Learn the tricks and avoid all, buy your coins certified from reputable companies, or you might end up with an expensive paperweight!
Till Then all.........................................