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  1. Statistics is my unchosen (and undesired) field of professional practice, it just happened to happen. Nevertheless, it fed my kids well until they left the nest and it's still feeding me. The person who selects the data on which to base his "study" can "prove" virtually any point. Marc's hypothesis is that PCGS has engaged in endemic grade-flation, so he hand-picks a dozen examples of exploding pops from a universe of tens of thousands of U.S. issues and "proves" it. Ugh. Perhaps, grading standards have loosened over the decades, but quantification is impossible because empirical data doesn't exist and the variables are infinite and unknowable. I can say, however, that whenever I wanted a grade bump, I'd crack out my PCGS-graded coin and send it to NGC. Got a half or full grade bump half the time (and once, 2 full grades) and the same grade the rest of the time. Cracked many NGC coins and sent them to PCGS too, but only once got a bump that I can recall. My "conclusion"? NGC is looser in its grading standards than PCGS. Naturally, like Marc's, my conclusion is flawed, even childish. In my case, I'm only including coins that I subjectively thought deserved a bump, not "all" of my coins. Even if I included "all" my coins in my crack-out "study", my conclusion would be fatally flawed since I only bought coins I subjectively liked ab initio. Rule 1: figures lie and liars figure (a quote attributable to Joseph Stalin, BTW).
  2. Actually, NGC's decision will impact the prices collectors are willing to pay for NGC-graded classic coins which will necessarily filter down to the auctions. I heard about Saltzberg's decision only a week or so ago. I had about a dozen NGC coins on my watch list for the upcoming Heritage FUN auction. I deleted them all, not as a "protest" or to "punish" anyone, but because my NGC registry sets will ultimately have to be switched over to PCGS and I don't want to buy coins that won't fit (and none of the coins were end-of-the-world material). I can't know from an auction photo (or, for that matter, can't really know at all) whether a coin will cross to PCGS. Besides, I don't do the regrade and cross game. When I sell is when my dealer or consignor will do it. Just as CAC coins command a premium, my bet is that we'll see a significantly greater spread between PCGS and NGC prices. I never ascribed to the -ism in the high-end, high-price coin trade "if it could be in a PCGS holder, it would be in a PCGS holder." Soon enough though, that saying be gospel. Eventually, the only hard-date classic coins you'll see in NGC holders are those at the bottom of the barrel.
  3. The collectors NGC is forcing out of the NGC market are those who want two things: (1) to look for and buy the best available coins within their budget, regardless of the slab and (2) to participate in a Registry. Many people who do Registry sets do it primarily to relate to other collectors. I've met several collectors from around the U.S. through my sets (and theirs). We often meet at the shows, look to each other for advice on prospective purchases, and buy, sell and trade among ourselves. It has less to do with striving to be "No. 1" than with having some fun, finding great coins, and advancing the hobby.
  4. Maybe. It's just that if you don't give the customer what he wants, the customer goes elsewhere. If NGC has decided to go niche---moderns and certain foreign---and is willing to sacrifice the rest, it's going in the right direction. And, BTW, you can bet your bottom dollar that McDonald's monitors Burger King's product as closely as they monitor their own.
  5. Is it fair to McDonald's that they have to give you ice with a Coke? Is it fair that they have to plow the snow off their parking lots? They charge nothing for either. It's fair because, if they didn't give you ice or plow their lots, you wouldn't go to McDonald's. NGC is a business. Like any business, they'll go belly up if the customers don't come. You give the customer what he wants if it's within your power to do it. Otherwise, he goes somewhere else.
  6. Agree with the cliche, the smart collector buys the coin not the holder. My premise was, however, that IF (highlight "IF") a classic collector wants to do a Registry set (as opposed to simply keeping a personal spreadsheet or list), there is no way he can go with NGC-graded coins, because there's just not enough of them to make a respectable set in most classic series. I personally like the Registries, not because they're a convenient way to track coins, but because I've met other collectors through my sets and theirs. As a result, I meet up with them at the shows, we exchange thoughts about specific coins, and, of course, buy, sell, and trade among ourselves That's what I like about Registries. It's good for the hobby and should be stress-free. .
  7. Ummm, I don't chat, don't bother much with forums (work for a living), so I didn't even know where to look for reactions. Another collector pointed the thread out to me and I followed up there.
  8. Mark Saltzberg's decision that NGC will no longer accept coins graded by PCGS in their Registry is an atrocious idea---a disservice to collectors and injurious to NGC itself. The switch may not mean much to collectors of modern and some foreign coins, but it will effectively wipe out active Registry participation in most, if not all, classic sets. Take the Mercury dime set for example. FB Mercs are a popular series and, when compared to other classic sets (e.g., Saints, $10 Indians, Barbers, etc.), relatively easy to complete. But, there just aren't enough NGC-graded Mercury dimes in the better dates to make completion of a high-end FB NGC set possible. For example, the 1931S is a semi-key, but hardly an impossible find. I've been collecting Mercs for 30+ years but have NEVER come across a FB 1931S in ANY grade in an NGC holder. The NGC census reports 21 in 65FB or better. PCGS, on the other hand, reports 125. Of the 21 NGC coins, many or most have been crossed and not deleted from the count. Only 4 FB NGC gems have sold in Heritage auctions from the beginning. The same may be said of most (if not all) of the other keys, semi-keys and hard dates. OK, so you get lucky and find a 1931S NGC 65FB, But, now try to find a FB '18D, '19S, '21D, '45, etc. in an NGC holder. If PCGS coins are no longer accepted in the NGC Registry, NO ONE will EVER be able to start, register and complete a collection of high-end FB Merc dimes. NGC is essentially forcing collectors to choose and, if forced, the classic collector absolutely HAS to go with PCGS if he aspires to build a high end Registry set. Think that '19S, '31S, and '45 Merc. dimes are impossible?? Ha!!! They're kid's coins in the classic coin spectrum---try to find an NGC '21 or '27S MS Saint. In the final analysis, set-building (much less "competition") is dead in the NGC registry. None of the classic Registry sets can ever grow, or attract new participants---whatever spot you're in now is the spot you'll stay in forever---unless NGC grades dozens of MS coins in all of the hard dates. That can't happen, of course. Face facts, girls, collectors don't cross home-run issues---MS 1921 and 1927S Saints, 1909O and 1929 $5 Indians, 1920S and 1930S $10 Indians, etc.---from PCGS to NGC. I've commented on the issue of "zombie" sets before, but it bears repeating now. Many of the top sets registered at NGC have long been sold off---the #2 and #3 Merc sets, for example, went to auction at Heritage years and years ago. Many/most of the PCGS coins in those sets are frozen for all time because the coins have been regraded and the registered cert numbers no longer exist. Look at the 20th C. classic gold sets for another example---almost none of the sets are legit because of regrades and cross-overs. NGC isn't, and shouldn't be, in the business of checking PCGS cert numbers repeatedly to see whether they're still alive. The answer isn't to refuse PCGS coins. The solution is to require set owners whose sets haven't had activity in, say, a year, to reaffirm each year that they still own the coins. Those that don't reaffirm lose their sets (and are maybe given a set grace period to restore them). Those that do affirm, keep them. It's a simple computer programming/engineering thing---owners of inactive sets get an email every year and a month to reaffirm. It's certainly not fool-proof, but it's a step in the right direction to maintain credibility in the NGC registry. Then again, maybe grading junk is where the money is. Maybe NGC WANTS to be out of the classic coin business and focus on modern stuff, silver Eagles, etc. If that's the case, why not just tell us?