Collector's Edge

Posted on 3/10/2020

In the know ... revisited.

Last month’s column generated enough interest that that it prompted this follow-up entry featuring some of that feedback.

Q: I read how the declared value of my coins determines which grading tier to select, but how do I know what they're worth until after they're graded? I don't know if a coin is MS 63 or MS 67.

A: This is an extremely common question that NGC gets from its customers. At the NGC booth, we're sometimes asked to provide this information, but it's really up to the customer to have at least a ballpark estimate of value for insurance purposes. The NGC representatives bring a Red Book to coin shows and are willing to share it with customers, but they can't assign a value to your coins, since such figures also serve as your insurance coverage. This is why it's really important to do some homework before submitting your coins for grading. The online NGC Price Guide is another useful tool.

Q: I sent NGC a mix of slabbed and raw coins for grading in its holders, and I was told that I'd have to sign a permission slip for some of them before NGC would grade them. It had something to do with the brands of holders, but I'm not quite sure I understand what that's about.

A: Coins submitted for grading that are in most third-party grading service holders present a liability risk to NGC requiring the submitter to sign a waiver granting permission for NGC to "crack out" the coins regardless of how they will grade. In other words, NGC won't guarantee to meet the existing grades after examining the coins outside their original holder. Presently, this requirement does not apply to coins certified by PCGS, but it does to all other brands of certification. In addition, if coins have been certified as varieties or mint errors, NGC will decline to crack them out when it does not agree with the attribution provided on the existing holders or the variety is not one eligible for NGC certification.

Q: I had several Bust half dollars that were darkly toned, so I sent them to NCS (Numismatic Conservation Services). After conservation they looked much nicer, but NGC graded only a few of them with numbers. Most said XF or AU "Details" and were also labeled "Cleaned." Since it was NCS that cleaned them, why didn't they get number grades?

A: This is another frequent question. NCS will remove contaminants and unattractive toning, but it can do nothing to restore the original surfaces of a coin that has been improperly cleaned in years past. Simply put, a coin cannot be "uncleaned" to give it natural, original surfaces. Any attempt to mask signs of cleaning is outside the work of proper conservation and is associated with the infamous coin "doctors."

Some submitters will protest that they never cleaned the coins in question, and that is probably true, but previous owners may have done so perhaps 50, 100 or 150 years ago. In cases where performing conservation will make a coin less attractive by exposing unappealing surfaces, NCS may decline to do such work and return the coin as submitted.

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