The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 23, June 6, 2010, Article 25


Dave Bowers writes:

I had not heard about the PCGS lawsuit before. One unsolved problem is what to do with the many doctored coins already in various certified holders—perhaps an opportunity for a “fourth party” service to identify them.

Altered-Standing-Liberty-quarter Regarding the close-up photo accompanying the press release, Joe Boling writes:

"This detail image of a 'doctored' Standing Liberty quarter shows the decomposition of soft metal...."

Presumably they meant "deposition."

The best commentary I've seen so far on the issue is Laura Sperber's. Here is an extensive excerpt from her blog last Saturday. -Editor

Please, no one pinch me, this is one dream I do not want to end. My sincere congratulations to David Hall and Don Willis for taking the ultimate step in the fight on coin doctors-filing a lawsuit!

For years the situation with coin doctors has only been growing more desperate. The grading services have been fighting them as hard as they could privately. Every time they thought they had a handle, the coin docs just figured out new ways to continue their destruction. This lawsuit is not for glamour, rewards, or a money grab, it was a necessity. PCGS has done the absolute right thing.

There is a rotten to the core subculture of coin dealers close to these guys who truly believe that it is their right to doctor, recolor, or do whatever they please to coins for a living. These people have little respect and nothing but contempt for the grading services and the public. Its time they learn they are not above the law.

Its mindboggling these greedy whores fail to realize is that FRAUD has been committed. One dealer said to me "Its the grading services job to not allow doctored coins to get through". True. However, it is against the law to try and defraud them by altering the coins they submit. Once this complaint starts progressing, the peripheral players will be exposed.

Those are the guys who really have to be sweating right now. They are the ones who quietly sent coins off to these guys to have the work done for them while they look clean. I think you'll be shocked to see who some of these names are-especially including some well known longtime PNG members.

Plus, sooner or later, it probably will be exposed about a few major firms who employ well known coin docs. They will be a tougher fight because they hire them and called them "conservationists or curators". In the end, they won't win-the evidence will be too overwhelming.

PCGS has started the fight "right". They are not just shooting the dark, they gathered the most facts and proof possible then waited for the right opportunity to file the complaint.

My only hope is that PCGS goes after as many of these guy as they can. The amount of serious coin doctors is actually small relative to the number of total dealers in the business. However, the ones listed in this complaint are just the tip of the iceberg. There are others out there who mix chemicals, recolor coins, add frosting, etc. and brag about it within the dealer world.

I have no sympathy for these guys. Their work has made my life miserable and has hurt collectors. They are not around when a customer comes back in a few months or a year or two to show me how the coin I sold turned (note: when a coin is first messed with it can be impossible to detect). Or how when a customer sells their collection and it has become all dreck and I am the one who has to tell them.

I have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars buying coins back and I am sure the grading services have lost millions. Even if PCGS has to spend a million dollars on this suit, it will be cheaper for them in the long run.

The public needs to speak out more and push organizations with power-like the ANA and the PNG to take action. If collectors know of someone doctoring coins-even on small level, avoid them and tell the grading services. Make your dealer stay away from the bad guys. Write letters to Coin World or discuss the issue on collector forums. Yesterday, a small but significant step was taken in this critical war. We can win and stop the majority of the coin doctors!

To read the complete blog article, see: THE PCGS LAWSUIT (

John Feigenbaum of David Lawrence Rare Coins had this to say in his June 1st blog:

From my perspective, action against the “coin doctors” has been overdue. For years, these guys have enjoyed an unfair advantage in the U.S. coin market and their presence in the general marketplace and auctions made it more difficult for legitimate buyers to compete. But we all accepted their existence because these folks have been around as long as there was a profit to be made in artificially improving coins.

The grading services were designed originally to eliminate this scourge, but these guys are good and their methods are ever-improving. The extent of the doctoring of late has been somewhat hidden during this time, so some of the revelations in the filing are news, even to me. Now, it seems PCGS has drawn a line in the sand and they are throwing the book at some known offenders. More like a hammer, actually.

To read the complete blog article, see: David Lawrence Rare Coins View on PCGS' Hard Stance Against Coin Doctors (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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