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PCGS slabs 1854-S $5 gold rarity

Grading services compete intensely for business.

If this were not so, the battle of the crossovers would not be occurring.

This is where a coin slabbed by one service is cracked out and then slabbed by another service.

While much of this occurs below the radar, when it involves a great rarity, bragging rights generate publicity.

This week, as an example of this, the Professional Coin Grading Service has announced that it has reslabbed the rare 1854-S $5 gold piece that was found and authenticated earlier this year.

It sold for over $2.16 million Aug. 16 by Heritage Auctions during the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money.

The new owner took the coin to the Whitman Baltimore Winter Expo last weekend and obtained the PCGS Crossover Special.

PCGS graded the gold $5 XF-45, which is the same as the previous slab.

“This is a national numismatic treasure from the height of the California Gold Rush, and I never thought I’d ever have the opportunity to acquire one!" said Brian Hendelson, president of Classic Coin Company in Bridgewater, N.J., who submitted the coin to PCGS.

"I enjoy buying major numismatic rarities, and I’m surprised, delighted and honored I’m able to own this historic coin that is among the top elite of American numismatics,” said Hendelson.

This is the fourth example known of the 1854-S $5.

Its discovery was reported online in April and put on the front page of Numismatic News.

For many years, the census of three pieces seemed rock solid.

It certainly caused the anonymous original finder and those he consulted to think this fourth example was a fake.

It wasn’t.

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation was able to give the owner the good news.

That was then. This is now.

“The best coins always end up in PCGS holders because collectors and dealers know that PCGS certification helps maximize the value, liquidity and security of their coins,” said PCGS President Don Willis.

“Of the four known surviving examples from a small mintage of only 268 1854-S half eagles, one is in the Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Collection, another is in a private collection in Texas, and the third has been missing since it was stolen in Florida in 1967. There are several options now for this fourth coin, including possibly being loaned to a museum or exhibited elsewhere, or placing it in the right collection,” said Hendelson.

While he ponders the future fate of his coin, PCGS is taking a victory lap.

“Buyers and sellers trust the PCGS brand. Each of our holders has covert and overt security features and is virtually impossible to replicate, providing collectors and dealers with anti-counterfeiting as well as environmental protection for their PCGS-certified and encapsulated coins,” Willis stated.

And the grading competition continues.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."