NGC Announces ANA Grading Contest Winners!

Posted on 8/26/2022

Competition was spirited as 140 participants graded 15 coins from around the world.

Thirty of 140 contestants took home prizes in the Grading Contest hosted by Numismatic Guaranty Company™ (NGC®) at the 2022 ANA World’s Fair of Money in Chicago, Illinois.

There were 37 more participants than in the previous NGC Grading Contest, which was held as part of the 2020 FUN Show in Orlando, Florida. Demand for the contest was high, as 140 was the maximum number of participants NGC could enroll in the competition.

Contestants won prizes in three age categories. For both the Adult (26 and up) and Young Adult (18-25) categories, the first prize was a $300 NGC grading credit, the second prize was a $200 NGC grading credit, and the third prize was a $100 NGC grading credit. The Young Numismatist (13-17) category prizes were cash — $300 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place. The top 10 finishers in the three categories also received a special NGC “Sample Slab” with a 2003 Proof Silver Illinois Quarter. Additionally, all the participants received a special participation “Sample Slab.”

The contest was to see who could most accurately grade 15 coins in 10 minutes. Each participant entered the coin grades into a laptop at the NGC booth at the show.

In the adult category, Jeff Garrett led the way, scoring an impressive 58 of 75 points. He correctly determined the grade of nine of the coins and earned partial credit (within one or two grades) on an additional five coins.

First place adult winner Jeff Garrett with his 1st place sample. Jeff also received a $300 grading credit to NGC.
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Behind Jeff in the adult category was Jeffrey Schwartz, who earned 50 of 75 points after grading six coins correctly and eight coins within two grades. Dennis M. Hoelzle graded seven correct and six partially correct to earn him third place with 49 of 75 points.

In the Young Adult category, Gary Ugrinovskiy, 22, prevailed after grading an impressive eight coins correctly and five coins partially correct to take first place with 53 points. Gary was followed by Joshua Lockard, 21, with six correct and six partially correct grades for a total of 48 points. Jack Hughes, 20, also graded six correct and six partially correct for 46 points.

First place YN winner Alex Wittnebel with his prizes – an NGC sample slab and $300 in cash.
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The Young Numismatists category was won by Alex Wittnebel, 17, who had six correct and seven partially correct for a total of 43 points. Young dealer Payton Lindeman, 17, was second with five correct and seven partially correct for a total of 42 points. In third was Connor Cambria, 16, who earned a total of 34 points after grading three coins correctly and seven more within two grades.

Second place YN winner Payton Lindeman with his prizes – an NGC sample slab and $200 in cash.
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The collectibles used in the contest were all coins except for one medal and one token. They were a mix of countries, types and grades and included one not genuine and one altered coin. Contestants graded the coins, which were in NGC holders without grades, and entered their grades on a computer provided by NGC.

Photos of all of the coins used in the contest are shown below. Find information on the 70-point grading scale here.

Coin #1 – 1853 Large Cent

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NGC MS 67 BN – This coin is simply stunning. A strong strike and clean fields helped this coin earn its lofty grade. A few minor distractions, such as a tiny spot at 3:30 on the obverse and a few nicks on the reverse hold this coin back from an even higher grade. According to the scores, this is a relatively easy coin, with an average score of 2.2/5 points.

Coin #2 – Great Britain 1990 20 Pence Overstruck on New Zealand 1990 Dollar

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NGC Mint Error UNC Details – Cleaned – This coin is a wild mint error. These types of errors can occur when one country’s mint strikes coins for another country. In this case, an already struck Great Britain 1990 20 Pence coin was inadvertently mixed with the planchets for New Zealand dollar coins and was struck again. While amazing, the coin is missing all of its original luster because it has been cleaned. This was, according to the average score, the second hardest coin in the contest. The average score on this coin was a mere 1.0/5 points.

Coin # 3 – India 1920(C) Rupee

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NGC MS 63 – This coin, graded MS 63, has great luster and a gorgeous reverse, but the obverse is very chattery, likely due to some time in a bag with other coins. This was the second-easiest coin in the contest, with an average score of 2.6/5.

Coin #4 – 1907 Saint-Gaudens High Relief Double Eagle – Wire Rim

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NGC Not Genuine or Altered – Here was the first real curveball we threw. Twenty contestants graded this coin AU 58, and a further 62 graded it somewhere between MS 60 and MS 68. However, this coin is, in fact, an example of the famous “Omega” counterfeit Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle. Odd luster and poor details point to that fact, as does the minuscule Omega symbol inside the eagle’s claw. Special thanks to the ANA, who loaned NGC this coin for the contest. The average score for this coin was only 1.0/5.

Coin #5 – 1891-O Morgan Dollar – VAM 1A2 “E” Clash & Eye

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NGC VF 30 – Here's a nice circulated Morgan Dollar. This one has a lot of reverse clashing, including the eye to the left of the eagle, which some felt was damaged. This was a relatively easy coin, with 88 contestants earning points on this coin for an average score of 1.7/5.

Coin #6 – Germany 1754 B - Regensburg Kreuzer

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NGC MS 66 – This coin clearly confused many contestants as we observed, many remarking on the curved nature of the planchet. In fact, this piece is struck by roller dies, which impart a curved appearance to the coin. While the coin is absolutely dripping with luster and essentially has no marks, some strike weakness on the obverse holds this coin back from an even loftier grade. The majority of contestants felt this coin was in the Uncirculated grade range, and an average score of 1.7/5 points was earned.

Coin #7 – 1889-CC Morgan Dollar

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NGC Not Genuine or Altered – Here is curveball #2 in the contest. This 1889-“CC” Morgan Dollar almost certainly began its life as a Philadelphia issue coin, judging by the weak obverse strike and luster. The first things one should check on such a rare date-and-mintmark combinations are the date and mintmark. In this case, the mintmark shows odd discoloration around it due to the glue used to attach it to a coin likely struck in Philadelphia. Forty-eight people noticed the alteration and selected the correct option of Not Genuine or Altered. The average score on this coin was 1.7/5 points.

Coin #8 – 1892 Swiss Shooting Festival – Neuchatel – Le Locle - R-959c

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NGC MS 65 BN – Here's a lovely example of a Swiss Shooting Medal with chocolatey brown surfaces and great luster. These medals were awarded to the top finishers at shooting tournaments in Switzerland. However, a touch of discoloration in the right obverse field holds this medal back from any higher grade. Most contestants earned points on this medal, with an average score of 2.6/5 points.

Coin #9 – 1927-S Walking Liberty Half Dollar

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NGC MS 66 – This coin is likely the most expensive in the entire grading set, with an NGC Price Guide value of over $30,000! This amazing coin was also apparently the hardest to grade based on the average score of only 0.7/5 points. The 1927-S Walking Liberty Half Dollars were notoriously poorly struck. While this piece is not fully struck, it is likely just about the best strike you will find on this date-and-mintmark combination. In fact, it is a gorgeous coin with great luster, only held back from an even higher grade by the strike and a few ticks in the obverse fields. Many people mistook the die polish in the fields as cleaning, as 2 percent of entrants called this piece cleaned.

Coin #10 – France 1965 10 Francs

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NGC MS 67 We always enjoy throwing some eye candy into the contest, and this certainly falls into that category. The obverse of this coin is gorgeously toned with yellows, oranges, reds, blues and greens. Just like a Morgan Dollar, this coin is struck in 90% silver, and the toning pattern is reminiscent of those found on “monster” toned Morgans. However, most people doubted the color of this coin, as nearly 36 percent called this coin NGC Details. That brought the average score on this coin down to 1.6/5 points. Some minor nicks and discoloration hold this coin back from MS 68.

Coin #11 – Singapore 1982 50 Cents – Obverse Struck Thru

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NGC Mint Error MS 65 – Coin #11 was another interesting mint error. This coin, which is about the size of a US half dollar, has a significant piece of matter that created the Strike Thru. One must remember to ignore the error for the purposes of grading. In this case, the coin has very few other obvious flaws, aside from some very minor hits and abrasions around the reverse, which are ok for MS 65. Nineteen people felt this coin was either not genuine or details-graded, but most people, 81 to be exact, earned at least partial credit on this coin. The average score was 1.5/5 points.

Coin #12 – 1863 New York, NY Civil War Token – Broas Pie Baker – F-630L-7a

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NGC MS 63 BN – This token has a lot going on. Not only is the obverse die shattered, but the reverse die has heavily clashed. However, this token is still clearly uncirculated and even has some hints of red around the devices. Only some spotting in the copper prevented this coin from grading any higher. This was a relatively easy token to grade, as evidenced by the average score of 1.8/5 points.

Coin #13 – South Africa 1961 5 Cents

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NGC PF 67 ★ – Coin #13 has even more vibrant colors than coin #10, and it has them on both sides. This South African coin comes in a Proof set with a velvet lining that can sometimes impart amazing colors onto the coins in the set. This toning has a very natural appearance and is very much market acceptable. However, 40 people graded this coin as NGC Details, likely due to the color. The average score for this coin was still 2.1/5, however.

Coin #14 – 1921-D Morgan Dollar

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NGC FAIR 2 – This lowball Morgan Dollar was apparently the easiest coin to grade in the entire contest. Fifty-one percent of contestants correctly guessed the grade of Fair 2. This coin has just a bit too much detail to earn the coveted Poor 1 grade. The average score earned on this coin was an amazing 3.6/5 points!

Coin #15 – Guatemala 1796NG M 8 Reales

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NGC MS 66 – This coin is the second most valuable in the grading set and is likely a $15,000-$20,000 coin. Some light cabinet friction likely scared the few people into grading this lower than Mint State. In fact, 14 contestants graded this coin XF or lower. However, this coin is a complete gem. Nineteenth-century 8 Reales simply do not normally come this nice. The luster on this coin verges on Prooflike, likely due to the incredibly sharp strike. Additionally, there are only a few distracting marks to speak of, which do not detract from this amazing coin. The luster, strong strike, lack of contact marks, and color all make this a simply amazing coin to finish out the contest with. However, it proved one of the more difficult coins to grade, with an average score of only 1.2/5 points.

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