Crackin’ Slabs… What am I missing?

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Revenant

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It is Day 13 of our Coronavirus Self-solation. Frequent walks help make it not so bad with the stir craziness now. We’re taking the cars for short drives and driving out to the woods to walk around so that the cars don’t sit idle for too long.

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I thought it was a good day to have a bit of fun.

A few years ago I ended up with two graded 1883-O Morgans in my collection. One is an NGC MS63 that I bought. One is a PCGS graded AU58 that another member here gave me when I bought a coin off them in the marketplace and it took a long time for them to get it in the mail so they sent me that AU58 too just to be nice.

I’ve often thought about cracking that AU58 out of the slab because… it’s a circulated common-date Morgan. It’s not like the slab increases the value any and if I crack it out it can go in an album page and take up less room.

Anyway. I decided today was the day. I was going to ask Ben to ‘help’ me and we were going to go for it.

The nice thing about making a PCGS graded coin the victim is that it helps keep him from thinking he can take a hammer to the NGC coins... I hope.

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The thing is… I’ve always heard people talk about how easy it is to crack these slabs open and how it just takes a ‘couple of quick taps’ and yadda yadda. Except… We couldn’t get it open. And we hit that sucker hard a few times, on the edge and on the face. It didn’t break. It wasn't just the four year old hitting it! I hit it too! It suffered some clear physical damage, but it’s still together.

This result in a number of ways makes sense to me. I was always confused by all the stories about how easy  these are to break. It didn't make sense for something made for archival protection to be so easy to break - especially given the likelihood of drops. Still, I'm having trouble reconciling the stories I've heard with this experience.

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The children's show on the TV is called "Word Party." Ben loves it... I'm not sure why.

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This has honestly given me some new respect for the slabs. I have that thing a couple of pretty solid whacks on the edge. I would not have expected it to hold up that well. I’ve dropped these things on the floor a few times and nearly had a heart attach worrying they’d break because of what I’ve heard. But this? Wow.

So… what am I missing here? Is there supposed to be a mystery-just-right way to ‘tap’ these open?

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I find ANACS slabs are the easiest, PCGS are in between, and NGC are really hard.  My technique involves a large vise mounted on my basement work bench.  I place the slab in the vise with the label exposed and tighten it down enough to hold it firmly in place.  I then take my best hammer and swing like a golf club at the exposed label, decapitating the slab.  The rest is just a matter of careful prying apart the remains so as not to scratch the coin.  As I said earlier, NGC slabs are really tough and take more than one healthy swing.  ANACS (at least the recent versions) are easy cheesy and can lose their label with just a half swing.  . 

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Opening a slab is easy if you have a band saw.  My saw has very fine teeth like a hack saw and I simply carefully cut around all four edges and lift the two halves of the slab apart.  Never any danger of having a coin fall or get scratched that way.  

Andy

 

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2 hours ago, Mokiechan said:

I find ANACS slabs are the easiest, PCGS are in between, and NGC are really hard.  My technique involves a large vise mounted on my basement work bench.  I place the slab in the vise with the label exposed and tighten it down enough to hold it firmly in place.  I then take my best hammer and swing like a golf club at the exposed label, decapitating the slab.  The rest is just a matter of careful prying apart the remains so as not to scratch the coin.  As I said earlier, NGC slabs are really tough and take more than one healthy swing.  ANACS (at least the recent versions) are easy cheesy and can lose their label with just a half swing.  . 

 

2 hours ago, Whidbey Island Collection said:

Opening a slab is easy if you have a band saw.  My saw has very fine teeth like a hack saw and I simply carefully cut around all four edges and lift the two halves of the slab apart.  Never any danger of having a coin fall or get scratched that way.  

Andy

 

So... What you're saying is it isn't easy at all to break one of these caskets. I'm wondering why people keep saying it is.

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SEGS slabs are tough as iron and nearly impossible to crack without cutting, all the others I can do just using a hammer and patience.  I go around the entire exterior of the slab hitting each side several times along the side, just keep rotating and hitting it will eventually give a nice healthy "crack" and the two sides will come apart.  You will need to use some decent force on a PCGS or NGC slab and it helps to use a beefier hammer than you have in the pics  Be sure to use a towel underneath so the coin doesn't fall out and get damaged and sometimes small plastic shards will fly so I cover the slab with a cloth while I do this.  The easiest method by far is to use a bandsaw or other similar power tool, four cuts and easy as pie the coin is free.  As mentioned some brands and generations of slabs are quite easy to break while others are not.

Edited by Coinbuf

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I use a bench vise as well. I wrap the slab in a rag and lay the slab horizontally in the vise. I tighten it until I hear a crack. Then I slowly crank it another notcher two and after 2 oe 3 tightening nudges it cracks open like an egg:)  Just don't do it quickly if you don't want a mess;)

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Band saw is the way to go.  You can do the same thing with a coping saw and some patience.  

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Well, oh well. This had seemed like a fun little father-son thing but I'm not letting Ben near a band saw.

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I use a large pair of pliers to break off one of the top corners. Then I use a flat blade screwdriver around the edges to pry it apart.  It usually snaps apart after a few twists without getting close to the coin. The band saw seems like the best choice if you have access to one.

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I second the claim that ANACS are easiest to bust.

I recommend putting the coin inside a plastic bag and either (1) smashing the holder at the top (where the tag is) through the bag, because the plastic shards are pretty dangerous and can sliver pretty bad.  OR, I now recommend (2) what Coinbuf said, which is to go around the edges, and you don't even have to slam it that hard, just keep going around the perimeter and it will finally pop open. That's cleanest and safest and least-loud. 

Here are some videos of me smashing out PCGS and ANACS slabbed coins before I determined that what Coinbuf suggests is best.

Also, re: a saw: lots of dust from that and not kid-friendly

 

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H i i stopped sending coins to A.N.C.S. Years ago. I did gibe them a shot. Four came back at differt time. One i was so mad i threw it . Thats what it took. The xoin was gradded by NGC no double die. I never sent it to a.n.c.s for a double.die but they dound it. The next three are so child like.  Sent in a coin a cent came back with three sets of letters. Again just for grading.Now i knew the last three stood do Late Die Strike. I called them they had no idea what the remaining six letters were for. So i asked dor a supervisor. He didnt know.  The other twoyou get the prcyure.. There nor a grading company there a  variety company. Thatvsums them up. P.C.G.S overgrades. Verty liberal . Send a 70 to NGC you will get a 69 or.68. I stay with NGC no problems. Except there backed up. Probally take weeks . But its worth the wait. Thanks andnstay home write journals. Go back over those wheats do anything but stay home.

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