There are a number of ways to categorize coins, but one of the most common ways is to organize coins by those that have been professionally graded and those that are raw or ungraded. Professionally graded coins are commonly referred to as “certified coins” in the coin industry, and are those that have been evaluated by a third party grading service.
The three most well known and respected third party grading companies are PCGS, NGC and ANACS. While there’s very little benefit in having modern bullion coins professionally graded, the case can certainly be made to have your old and/or rare coins certified. We’ll discuss in this article three distinct benefits of having old or rare coins evaluated and graded by a third party grading service.
First and foremost, having your coin slabbed, which involves encapsulating it in a hard acrylic plastic holder, helps to remove any doubt regarding the authenticity of your coin. Certain coins are notorious for being counterfeited; some of which are high quality replicas. Unless you happen to be a coin expert, there’s a chance that you could get fooled by a fake, and potentially lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your investment. You should stick with the coin grading companies identified above, as second or third tier companies may not have the expertise to identify replica coins.
Secondly, having your coin certified removes any doubt as to the coin’s condition. Since coin grading involves a good bit of subjectivity, there’s the possibility that two parties could disagree on the condition of a coin. This is especially troublesome when the difference in one grade could result in a difference of hundreds of dollars in value. This is oftentimes the case when a coin receives a grade of AU58 (the highest circulated grade coin) versus MS60 (the lowest grade uncirculated coin). If you’re considering spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a condition sensitive coin, then we recommend that you only purchase coins that have been professionally grading by a reputable third party grading service.
Lastly, having a coin certified will remove any doubt as to if the coin has been altered or cleaned. Altered or cleaned coins are worth considerably less than coins that are in their original unaltered state. While harshly or deeply polished coins can oftentimes be identified without confirmation from a third party grading company, it can be difficult to tell if coins have been touched up or otherwise professionally altered without confirmation from certified coin experts. If you suspect that a coin has been altered, insist on having it sent in to be evaluated by a third party grading service before you commit to buy it.
In summary, while most modern bullion coins that have been certified aren’t worth considerably more than raw or ungraded coins, it can make sense to have old or rare coins certified by a reputable third party grading service. Specific benefits include verifying the authenticity of the coin, its grade, and if the coin has been cleaned or altered. When spending hundreds or thousands of dollars, consider purchasing a certified coin or having the coin professionally graded to avoid making a costly mistake.