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Down to the last point

I have had several letters and emails from individuals wondering why new coin issues submitted by them to third-party grading services won’t come back with -69 or -70 grades as they think they should.

A mere -68 is terribly disappointing.

They also ask about resubmissions that come back with a lower grade than it was originally assigned.

No question this is frustrating.

Grading has been frustrating collectors for as long as I have been a collector.

It is not an exact science. The hoopla over computer grading two decades ago was just that: It turned out that humans do it better.

But humans aren’t perfect.

Any professional will tell you that if the opinion of any two of them differs by a point, that is tantamount to agreement. It is just not possible for every person to grade every coin identically.

Five or 10 points would be a horse of a different color.

So why do we depend on such a flawed system?

Nobody has invented anything better.

As long as that is the case, and as long as hobbyists have decided that MS-70 coins are so much more valuable than MS-69 coins, the human element will ensure that differences will continue to arise and this will prompt more questions.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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2 Responses to Down to the last point

  1. hrlaser says:

    A few years ago, when I could afford it, I joined PCGS’ “club” at the “Platinum” level.. that got me eight “free” gradings from them, although when you consider the price of joining at the “Platinum” level, I don’t know how anyone in their right mind could call those gradings “free”.. I still had to pay for insured two-way Postage and Insurance.. anyway, out of those eight “free” gradings, I submitted six coins already in other companies’ slabs.. three were NGC coins.. every one of those came back at the same grade or HIGHER.. one, a key-date Lincoln cent in a SEGS slab (how much market repsect do THEY get?).. came back from PCGS at exactly the same grade.. and the final two were ANACS slabs.. one, a $10.00 Indian Gold piece graded AU55 came back in a body bag, (this was a year or two prior to PCGS slabbing “problem” coins as “Genuine”, instead of usinb body bags).. anyway, that one came back, broken out of its ANACS slab, in a flip, labelled “cleaned or whizzed”, and the other, an ANACS MS65 Walking Liberty Half came back in its original ANACS slab with the notation “MS64” stuck to it.. this told me something about PCGS vs. NGC and SEGS, and it also told me something about PCGS vs. ANACS.. you can draw your own conclusions, but my results tell me that NGC is every bit as conservative and accurate as PCGS, so all things being equal, an identical NGC coin should sell for just as much as if it was in a PCGS holder.. the same with SEGS, especially with a commonly-faked key date, a 1914-D Lincoln Cent.. I don’t know what to make about the way PCGS blew their noses on my two ANACS coins, but to this day, I believe they were absolutely wrong..

  2. Tom Snyder says:

    I have examined some of those 69’s and 70’s and I believe the difference is defined at a dice game
    in the back room. Why the price difference? Well, there’s one born every slab.

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