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PCGS unveils tech advance, new plus grades

Think of it as face recognition software for a coin.

A new laser scanning technology that can identify individual coins was unveiled by Professional Coin Grading Service founder David Hall on March 26.

More than 100 people packed a conference room at the American Numismatic Association National Money Show in Fort Worth, Texas, to hear Hall reveal the details of the “Big One,” the new PCGS technology and services that are supposed to revolutionize coin certification and grading.

He was joined by PCGS President Don Willis.

PCGS now has software that recognizes a laser scanned coin every time it is resubmitted no matter what may have been done to it from dipping to coin doctoring.

Coins with unacceptable coin doctoring modifications to surfaces would be sent back in a “body bag” or simply marked genuine.

Customers submitting their coins for a new tier of service, called Secure Plus, will have their coins laser scanned by this new system.

In addition to spotting altered coins, the coin recognition software will address the problem of crack-outs and resubmissions of the same coins over and over in attempts to obtain higher grades. The original grade will be retained.

Secure Plus would also recognize any scanned coins that have been stolen, even if they are taken out of the holders.

Perhaps as part of the incentive for submitting coins to Secure Plus  PCGS will add plus grades to this tier of service. Heretofore, PCGS has not used them. The new service will use plus grades.

Hall cited a number of coins whose values between grades, say MS-64 and MS-65, rise dramatically. By assigning an MS-64+ grade, the intermediate coin can capture a higher portion of the price differential than a coin graded MS-64 that is acknowledged informally as at the high end of the grade.

It was expected that over time plus graded coins would comprise 10-15 percent of coins in each grade.

PCGS also is incorporating a more structured method of assessing eye appeal in its grading criteria. Hall got a laugh when he said there were seven levels of eye appeal for color toning from amazing to ugly.

It was revealed during the news conference that Numismatic Guaranty Corp. was also going to adopt plus grades and the CCE dealer trading network would modify its trading system to accommodate them as well.

PCGS is continuing its standard grading service. Plus grades would only be used at the upper end of the 70-point grading scale, 40-68, with the exception of -60 and -61 within that upper range.

Secure Plus service applies only to express, walkthrough, rarities and ultra rarities, reholder and similar show service levels.

For the new scanning technology, PCGS is working with Coinsecure of Palo Alto, Calif.

More Resources:

• Subscribe to our Coin Price Guide, buy Coin BooksCoin Folders and join the NumisMaster VIP Program

2010 U.S. Coin Digest, The Complete Guide to Current Market Values, 8th ed.

State Quarters Deluxe Folder By Warmans

Standard Guide to Small-Size U.S. Paper Money, 1928 to Date

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition



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