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How Do Grading Services Rate? 
PNG & ICTA Reveal Survey Results

Third Party Grading Services Explained

(Click for a Partial List of Certification Companies)

(Fallbrook, CA) - Responding to hobby concerns about perceived wide variances in the grading standards between different rare coin certification services, the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) and the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA) asked their members for their professional opinions.

The survey results, in grid format, are here, Coin Grading Survey Results.

Survey respondents were asked to rate seven different grading services on a ten-point scale to evaluate 11 different criteria, from grading accuracy to the quality of the holder in which certified coins were housed. The voting scale ranged from "unacceptable" at the low end to "outstanding" at the high end.

The final tally of the survey indicated that no grading service was ranked overall as "outstanding," but one company was listed as "unacceptable."

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) were both listed overall as "superior," the second highest ranking on the scale. Accu-Grade (ACG) was listed overall as "unacceptable," the lowest-ranking category on the scale.

ANACS and Independent Coin Grading Company (ICG) were ranked overall as "average." PCI Coin Grading Service (PCI) and Sovereign Entities Grading Service (SEGS) were ranked overall as "poor."

"The survey results are being published solely as a service to the numismatic marketplace, particularly members of the public who buy coins. The results do not necessarily reflect the views of PNG or ICTA, or any particular PNG or ICTA member, with respect to any particular grading service or services," said PNG Executive Director Robert Brueggeman.

This past March, PNG officials issued a consumer advisory, urging caution because some rare buyers, especially newcomers who conduct transactions on the Internet, may discover their "bargain" purchases are too good to be true.

PNG President Harlan J. Berk explained at the time that "many collectors and rare coin investors are under the potentially costly, false assumption that all numismatic certification services abide by similar criteria for judging the authenticity and grade of United States coins. Not all grading services make the grade."

"The value of a rare coin usually is dependent on its grade, but not all grading services are equal. So, be aware. Some use more liberal standards than those generally accepted in the marketplace, and their certified coins may be worth far less than those certified by others as the same grade," Berk stated.

This past summer, PNG and ICTA agreed to conduct a survey.

PNG and ICTA each sent a survey to its professional members during August 2002. Respondents ranked the criteria on a scale of 1 to 10.

The survey was sent to over 300 people, and 151 responses were received prior to the close of the survey (September 16).

"Not all respondents responded with respect to all seven grading services, and some did not respond with respect to all 11 criteria. Other responses were not counted because the respondents responded affirmatively to PNG/ICTA's request that they disclose any ownership or other affiliations they might have with particular grading services, or because PNG was otherwise aware of an affiliation," explained Armen Vartian, PNG legal counsel.

PNG and ICTA members were asked to consider these criteria for the seven grading services in the survey.

* Grading accuracy (Mint State 60+ and Proof 60+)

* Grading accuracy (AG-3 to AU-58)

* Ability to detect altered, repaired damaged, cleaned and counterfeit coins.

* Accuracy of all (type and variety) attributions.

* Grading guarantees.

* General marketability.

* Availability of pricing information.

* Customer service by phone, print and Internet.

* Cost for service provided.

* Turn-around time.

The results were tabulated by PNG with respect to each individual criterion, and also overall based upon weighting factors established by PNG/ICTA. The weighting factors were disclosed in advance to respondents."

Third Party Grading Services

A Third Party Grading Service or TPG Service is a company that provides the service of authenticating and determining the state of preservation of a coin. They are called Third Party because they have no vested interest in either the buyer or the seller and are independent of both. Most TPGs utilize three graders and one or more finalizers so that means at least four people's opinions were used to determine the grade of a coin. All TPGs use the Sheldon 70 point grading scale.

The following is a list of the most recognized TPGs :

ANACS - 6555 S. Kenton St, Suite 303 - Englewood, CO 80112

ICG - Independent Coin Grading - 7901 East Belleview Avenue, Suite 50 - Englewood, CO 80111

NCS - Numismatic Conservation Services, L.L.C. (a division of NGC) - P.O. Box 4750 - Sarasota, FL 34230

NGC - Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America - P.O. Box 4776 - Sarasota, FL 34230

PCGS - Professional Coin Grading Service - P.O. Box 9458 - Newport Beach, CA 92658


There are other TPGs and here is a partial list of the most prominent ones :

ACG - ASA ACCUGRADE, Inc - PO Box 411449 - Melbourne, Florida 32941-1449

ICCS - International Coin Certification Services - 2010 Yonge Street Ste 202 - Toronto, Ontorio Canada M4S 1Z9

NTC - Numistrust - 7154 N. University Dr. Suite #210 - Ft. Lauderdale FL, 33321-2916

PCI - P.O. Box 2388 · Virginia Beach, VA 23450-2388

SEGS - Sovereign Entities Grading Service Inc. - P.O. Box 8129 - Eastgate Center - Chattanooga, TN 37411

First Party Graders or Self Slabbers. The following are Not considered Third Party Grading Services.

While some of these slabbers may accept submissions, they also grade their own coins for resale, thus their grading is not impartial.

AACGS - American Alliance Coin Grading Service

ACC - American Certified Coins

ACCS - American Coin Certification Service

AGS - American Grading Services - looks deceptively like an NGC holder

CCG - Colonial Coin Graders

CCGS - Certified Coin Grading Service

CCGS - Collectors Coin Grading Service

CSI - Certified Silver Investments

FSG - First Strike Grading


GEC - Grade Evaluation Company

INB - International Numismatics Bureau

LCGS - Liberty Coin Grading Service

NAC - Numismatic Authentication Company

NAGC - Numismatic Assurance Grading Corp

NCG - black holder similar to INB

NCGS - National Coin Grading Service

NES - Numismatic Evaluation Service

NNC - National Numismatic Certification

NGP - Numismatic Grading Pros

NPG - Numismatic Proffesional Grading - again with the black INB style holders (or should I say Amos Advantage)

PCC - Premier Certified Coins

PGS - only black holders, white holders with blue borders are an actual TPG

QCGCS - Quality Coin Grading and Certification Services

QVC - Quasar Valuation Company


SDGC - Silver Dollar Coin Grading

SGS - Star Grading Service

TGS - Trust Grading Service

UGS - Universal Grading

UNC - United Numismatic Company

USCG - US Coin Grading

WCG - World Class Grading

WCG - World Coin Grading

The lists in no way reflects the quality of service you may receive. Companies that are listed as TPGs may also participate in activities which might place their third party status in question. The lists should not be considered comprehensive or all-inclusive.

Third Party Grading Services also exist for currency, comics, stamps, baseball cards and more.....


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