NGC Announces the Winners of the 2023 FUN Show Grading Contest

Posted on 1/19/2023

150 participants each spent 10 minutes grading 15 coins from the US and around the world.

Thirty of 150 contestants brought home prizes at the Grading Contest hosted by Numismatic Guaranty Company® (NGC®) at the 2023 Winter FUN Show in Orlando, Florida.

There were 10 more participants than the previous NGC Grading Contest held at the 2022 ANA World’s Fair of Money in August in Chicago. Demand was high for slots, as this was a new record for enrollment in an NGC Grading Contest.

Click images to enlarge.

The prizes

Contestants competed in three age categories for prizes. 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 Florida Quarter. Additionally, all 150 participants received a special participation “Sample Slab” with a label featuring the late Queen Elizabeth.

The winners

The contest was to see who could most accurately grade 15 coins in 10 minutes. Contestants graded the coins, which were in NGC holders without grades, and then entered their grades on a computer provided by NGC.

In the Adult category, Christian Robbins came in first place, earning 44 out of 75 points. He graded 5 coins correctly, and earned partial credit on a further 9 coins by coming within 2 grades. Logan Sutton and Zach Lauer, who both earned 43 points, tied for second place.

For the Young Adult category, 20-year-old Isaiah Nicely came in first place with 42 points that he earned by grading 5 coins correctly and 7 more within 2 grades. Isaiah Hageman, 21, came in second with 41 points, and David Huang, 22, was third with 37.

The Young Numismatist category had a tie for first place, with 14-year-old Trevor Kevorkian and 16-year-old Seth Stewart both earning 32 points. Trevor graded 2 coins correctly and 10 partially correct, whereas Seth correctly guessed the grade of 4 coins and was within 2 grades on an additionial 4. Rounding out the contestants was Mostafa Sadek, who earned 28 points.

The collectibles used in the contest were all coins except for one token. They were a mix of countries, types and grades and included one not genuine and one altered coin.

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

The coins

Coin #1 - South Peru - 1838 MS Cuzco 8 Escudos

MS 66 - This coin is simply stunning. South American coins of this era are typically poorly struck, but this example is absolutely hammered. It is the highest graded by NGC, and was the most expensive coin in this contest, likely worth $40,000 to $50,000! This coin was difficult to grade, with an average score of only 1.1 points out of a possible 5. Only 9% of people graded this coin correctly as MS 66.

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Coin #2 - USA - 1925-S California Half Dollar

Not Genuine or Altered – This coin is a low-quality base-metal counterfeit of a 1926 California Half Dollar. It has extremely odd Proof-like surfaces that seemingly threw many people off, as NGC Details was the most commonly selected grade. 26% of contestants correctly called this coin Not Genuine, and an average of 1.3 points were scored on this coin.

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Coin #3 - USA - 1999-D Jefferson Nickel - Double Struck, 2nd 90% Off Center

MS 63 – This is an extremely cool Mint Error. The coin itself is very high grade, but it has heavy hairlines on the cheek, likely from becoming jammed in a coin counter. Of course, error coins like this are much more commonly affected by such issues, so they are not details-graded unless the damage is severe. Thus, the coin was net-graded down from an MS 65 to a more market-acceptable MS 63. Some 9% of people guessed this coin correctly, for an average score of 1.4 points.

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Coin #4 - Switzerland - 1943B Franc

MS 68 – This coin is simply stunning, with only a couple minor marks on it. Many people seemed to be puzzled by the die polish lines, as some 21% of people felt this coin should be Details graded. Still, 17% of participants correctly graded this piece, leading to an average score of 1.8 points.

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Coin #5 - Guatemala - 1896 1/4 Real

MS 66 – This tiny coin is only 12mm in diameter, which is 2mm smaller than a USA silver 3-cent piece! While it has a slightly dark appearance that obscures some of its mint luster, the coin has few distracting marks or other issues to bring it down. If it were brighter, it might have even graded higher, but it is a lovely coin at MS 66. Only 7% of participants graded this coin correctly, with the highest percentage, 27%, grading it only MS 64. The average score on this coin was 1.1 points.

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Coin #6 – USA – (1837) New York, NY James G. Moffet Hard Times Token – HT-295

XF 45 – This was the lowest-graded piece in the competition. While there is quite a bit of wear on the token, there is still plenty of feather detail, and overall, it has a pleasing circulated look. About 13% of respondents earned the full 5 points by grading this coin correctly, and the average score earned was 1.4 points.

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Coin #7 – USA – 1876-CC Seated Quarter

MS 67 – This was clearly the hardest coin of the entire contest, along with being one of the most expensive, with a recent Heritage sale bringing almost $17,000! Most people seemed to only look at the odd obverse die and assume the coin is fake. However, the obverse of this coin is simply struck from a rusted die. The reverse, on the other hand, is pristine. Only 2 participants graded this coin correctly, and the average score was the lowest we’ve seen in any grading competition at only 0.3 of 5 possible points.

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Coin #8 - Germany - 1911F Wurttemberg Anniversary 3 Mark

MS 64 – The hardest coin in the competition was followed by one of the easiest. This coin has lovely original toning, but has a bit too much friction on the high points to be a gem. The average score on this piece was 2 out of 5 points.

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Coin #9 - Switzerland - 1826 Bern "Batz" Batzen

MS 67 – Here’s another lovely coin in this competition. These Batzen were relatively crudely struck over earlier coinage, but this piece has essentially no distracting marks, and the only reason it wasn’t graded higher was the weak strike. About 7% of people graded this coin correctly, and participants earned an average of 1 point for this coin.

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Coin #10 - USA - 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent

Not Genuine or Altered – This one was a bit tricky! It is a genuine 1909-VDB Lincoln cent with an added “S” mintmark. The added mintmark has a more “blobby” appearance than it should and is also not quite a match for Position 3. Also, note the discoloration around the mintmark itself. 31% of contestants caught this alteration, earning an average of 1.5 points.

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Coin #11 - Austria - 1965 Schilling

PF 67 ★ – This coin is simply stunning! While many contestants felt this coin was artificially toned, NGC graders regarded it as completely natural. It toned this way due to the high sulfur content in the original government packaging used by Austria, and its odd colors are a result of its aluminum-bronze composition. Only 9% of participants graded this coin correctly, and overall, it earned 1.1 points for the test-takers.

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Coin #12 - USA - 1827 Bust Half Dollar

AU 55 – The most selected grade for this coin was XF 45, which is simply far too low. The coin has a great deal of luster left, as well as most of its details. It is far closer to AU 58 than XF 45. The average score for this coin was 1.3 points.

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Coin #13 - Germany - 1915G 1/2 Mark

PF 68+★ Ultra Cameo – This coin is a true gem! In fact, it is the highest-graded Proof Germany ½ Mark that NGC has ever graded! It simply looks like a modern Proof coin struck today. Only a few wispy die lines hold it back from PF 69. Contestants recognized how special this coin was, and the most common answer was the correct one, PF 68, with 31% selecting it. This coin proved to be the one with the highest average score at 3 out of 5 points.

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Coin #14 - USA - 1879-S Morgan Dollar

MS 61 DPL – This coin has a stunning reverse that likely would grade at least MS 64 on its own. However, the obverse is the most important side in determining the grade, and this one is a mess. This coin clearly received some blows from other coins while in a bag with other silver dollars. However, that doesn’t make it any less uncirculated; it just lowers the grade to the low Mint State level. Only 12% of those who took the test properly graded this coin, which earned an average score of 1.4 points.

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Coin #15 - France - 1976 50 Francs

MS 64 – This coin is quite lovely, but it clearly spent some time in a bag with other coins. This has given the coin plenty of light hits and marks. These were enough to keep this coin from the gem level, but were not bad enough to bring it down to MS 63. This coin proved to be the second-easiest to grade in the contest, with almost 87% of people earning at least 1 point. This brought the average score up to 2.9 points of a possible 5.

Click images to enlarge.

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