Saturday, May 21, 2016

Grading the Graders

The Pros and Cons of the Top Three TPG’s

Let’s take a look at the top three TPG’s, or “Third Party Graders,” and examine the pros and cons. PCGS, NGC, and ANACS are all reputable grading services and by far the best in the business. Although my graded coin collection consists of slabs from all three companies, ANACS is far and away my favorite.


Pros: The most recognized name in the business. The coins they grade and slab tend to bring more money than the same coin slabbed by any other service. They have worked hard over the years to improve the holder that they use, and have incorporated several anti-counterfeit features within the slab itself.

Cons: A $69 per year membership is required just to be able to submit coins for grading. PCGS also shares with NGC, the highest grading cost per coin even at their most economical service level. Since PCGS services most of the big name bullion dealers who submit bulk orders of ASE’s as well as other bullion products and expect a certain percentage to grade MS70, they have fostered grade inflation which is now starting to plague the industry. Along with high volumes comes the push for management to produce and one result of that is grading mistakes such as the one pictured below becoming more and more common.

Ike Dollar

Pros: NGC graded coins also tend to bring a bit higher price than do other grading services. The grades assigned by NGC tend to be the most accurate overall compared to PCGS or ANACS when it comes to gold coins and modern bullion rounds.
Cons: Over the last few years, NGC has turned more toward gimmicky labels such as the new Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday labels to help sell their product, which in my opinion does nothing more than sully their reputation and it costs and extra $15 to boot. Applying a “star” designation (pictured below) for coins having superior aesthetic value, or “eye appeal” is unnecessary and confusing to those new to the hobby.  NGC also requires a membership, but it is only $39 per year. However they also have a five coin minimum for direct submissions. *NOTE* NGC offers direct submission privileges to ANA members in good standing without the purchase of an NGC membership.
1920 Pilgrim Commemorative


Pros: No membership required for direct submissions. Lowest prices for their service and monthly as well as seasonal discounts for submissions of U.S. minted coins. As a whole, they tend to assign the most accurate of grades as compared to the competition.
Cons: ANACS does not send submissions of five or more coins back to you in a nice plastic storage box like PCGS & NGC do, but it helps keep costs down and that is passed off to the customer. Very harsh on the grades given to pre 1933 gold coins. I have submitted several of what I considered obvious lightly circulated gold coins that came back with a higher than expected grade but with a “Cleaned/Scratched” designation.
Gold Indian Head $2.50

Gold Indian Head $2.50

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