■ Is there a slab through which I can view the edge of my coin?
None of the third-party certification services are particularly “edge friendly,” however the modern slabs that hold a coin in place with prongs allow a superior view of the edge than do many of the older encapsulations housing the coin with what I will call a seam. When viewing a coin in one of these older holders, you are viewing the plastic rather than the edge of the coin.
■ How can I remove a coin from a slab?
There is no single method that works on all third-party certification service encapsulations. The encapsulations have been improved over the years to discourage tampering. Some people place a coin in a vice, others use an electric saw (hopefully gingerly), while others put the encapsulation in a position through which they can try to snap it. Any time you attempt to remove a coin from its plastic tomb, you risk damaging the coin or yourself.
■ What coins are preferred “raw” versus being encapsulated?
Any U.S. or Colonial coin that has reasonably higher value from one grade to the next is a good candidate to be authenticated and graded by a third party service. Modern foreign coins where a significant price difference between grades is likewise a good candidate. A majority of ancient coin collectors prefer their coins “raw.” It should not be overlooked that these services authenticate a coin prior to grading it. The authentication alone may be of importance to your coin regardless of the grade assigned.
■ Some collectors and dealers play the crack-out game, re-submitting a previously slabbed coin to a service hoping for a higher grade. Could a service somehow identify the coin as being re-submitted if the submitter doesn’t tell them so?
Population reports are skewed because of re-submissions. This is a continuing problem. About the only way a service could identify a coin as being re-submitted would be to apply some sort of secret marker only visible under special lighting. To my knowledge, none of the active services do any such thing.
■ Are there any advantages to having a coin slabbed in addition to its authentication and grading?
An encapsulated coin is protected from being mishandled when being examined. Certified coins are also easier to document and trace since a number is assigned to each encapsulation. Even past sales records of an individual coin may be able to be traced, which can be handy for provenance purposes.
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