Coin Grading Companies

Coin Grading Companies

Which coin grading companies are the best? 

When you purchase a coin, you should be interested in three things:

  1. Is the coin authentic?
  2. Does the coin have problems (cleaned, polished, scratched, corroded, whizzed, bent, damaged)?
  3. What is the coins grade?
Well respected coin grading services like PCGS can be trusted for authentication, finding problems and grading. Coins in PCGS certified slabs will be authentic about 100% of the time.  PCGS does not certify coins with problems.  PCGS follows strict and consistent grading standards.  Of course, coin grading is subjective, and graders may disagree about the grade of a coin.  Furthermore, all coin graders are human, and can make mistakes.  For instance, I purchase a seated liberty dollar graded G 4 by PCGS.  On the reverse there were the initials H.G. carved into the coin.  PCGS somehow missed this, and slabbed the coin.   All grading services can
make mistakes, so it is important to judge the coin yourself too. 

The 4 most respected grading companies are PCGS, NGC, ANACS, and ICG.  These can be trusted for authentication, finding problems and grading.  PCGS, NGC and ICG will not grade coins with problems.  If a coin is found to be damaged or cleaned these coin grading companies will ship the coin back in a vinyl flip explaining why the coin was rejected or “body bagged”.  ANACS will slab the coin, and list on the slab whatever the defect is.  ANACS will also give the coin a “details” grade.  For instances a Very Fine Lincoln cent with a scratch will be graded “VF details, SCRATCHED”.

PCGS

PCGS Encapsulation

PCGS Encapsulation

Considered by many collectors the best grading service around. PCGS stands for “Professional Coin Grading Service” and began grading coins in 1986.  Collectors of PCGS certified coins can join the PCGS Set Registry which allows participants to showcase their coins.  The PCGS Set Registry only  accepts PCGS certified coins.   Also, buyers will usually pay the highest premium for PCGS certified coins.   PCGS does not certify all Lincoln cent varieties.

NGC

NGC Encapsulation

NGC Encapsulation

Similar to PCGS, the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, NGC, is a very well respected grading service.  NGC began grading coins in 1987.  NGC also has a Set Registry that accepts both PCGS and NGC certified coins. NGC does not certify all Lincoln cent varieties.

ANACS

ANAC Encapsulation

ANAC Encapsulation

ANACS, American Numismatic Association Certification Service, was the first coin grading company.  ANACS began grading coins in 1972.  ANACS was as part of the ANA, American Numismatic Association, until 1990.  Before the advent of coin slabs, ANACS used photo certificates of coins.  In 1989 ANACS began using plastic slabs.  ANACS has always been a trusted coin grading company with high standards.  ANACS certifies most Lincoln cent varieties.  Unlike, NGC and PCGS, you do not need to be a member to send in coins for certification yourself.

ICG

ICG Slab

ICG Slab

ICG, Independant Coin Grading, is a newer grading company.  IGC is well respected by most collectors.  ICG offers a “No grade, No fee” policy for problem coins (however there is a $5 fee).  ICG will grade Key dates like
the 1909 S VDB and 1914 D free. If you are purchasing valuable or key date coins, it is strongly recommended that you only purchase coins certified by PCGS, NGC, ANACS or ICG.

Here are some other grading sevices:

  • NCS – Numismatic Conservation Services.  NCS is partner of NGC.  NCS restores and grades problem coins only.
  • PCI – Photo Certified Institute.  Started in 1989.  J.T. Stanton, co-author of the Cherry Picker’s Guide to Die Varieties is President and CEO.  PCI offers a new “Signature Series” for variety attributions.  Lincoln cent variety collectors can have their slabs signed by Charles Daughtrey or J.T. Stanton himself.  Although some collectors question PCI’s grading, they can be trusted for authentication. If you are purchasing more common varieties like the 1951 D/S omm 1, PCI is not a bad choices.   If you are purchasing key date coins with problems, NCS is a good choice.
  • TruGrade, NTC/Numistrust, and ASA/Accugrade are smaller coin grading services.   Many collectors feel that they over-grade coins.   They do not have the same level of respect as SEGS and PCI, but should be trusted for authentication.
  • INB, SGS , NNC, NGCS, HCGS, GEC, HCGS, PNGS, INGC, WCG, ACG, and ANI are not trustworthy coin grading services.  Stay away from these.  SGS “Star Grading Service” is a self-slabber.  Meaning that they slab their own coins, then sell them.  You will see few SGS coins not graded MS70 – which is ridiculous.   Experienced coin collectors and dealers tend to stay away from these coin slabs.
    • We have been asked by SEGS to remove all information about their slabs, and we have done so.