Pete Smith submitted this amusing (but also pretty accurate) summary of third-party grading and the annotations often found on coin
slabs. Thanks! -Editor
Last week The E-Sylum had a question about “Decoding the Slab” and the meaning of some terms used in coin descriptions. I told Wayne
I would see if there were other responses before I wrote. Apparently none of the other 1,852 E-Sylum subscribers can decode the
Let’s start with an overview of the third-party grading (TPG) system. There was a time when there were two types of collectors. The
first type would say, “I like it, I’ll buy it.” The other type would say, “I think I like it but I want somebody to tell me what it is
worth before I decide.” This created a business opportunity for third-party grading (slabs).
Jump forward to the next generation of collectors. Now they would say, “I know what it says on the slab but I want somebody to tell me
if I can trust the slab.” This created another business opportunity. These efforts are mentioned on the slab. Rick Snow created Eagle Eye
Photo Seal. The submission form says that for a fee of $15, “Your coins are looked at personally by Richard Snow. If they qualify for Photo
Seal you can be assured that your coins are properly graded or premium quality for the grade indicated on the holder.”
Then along came the Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC). They apply an oval green sticker now known as a “green bean.” Their website
states that the CAC sticker means, “It has been verified as meeting our strict quality standards.” The third party graders have gone through many
generations of holder. One generation of PCGS holder had green labels. These are referred to as “original green holder” (OGH). Why is this
There is the perception that grading was more conservative during the OGH era. Some dealers (crack-out artists) made their living buying up
OGH slabs to resubmit them for higher grades. So, an OGH slab may be a candidate for upgrading and increased perceived value. On the other hand, if
the coin is still in an OGH slab, no previous customer has thought it was worthy of a resubmission.
Uncirculated copper coins show a continuum of color from red to brown. The grading services have determined that all copper coins are
either red (RD), red and brown (RB), or brown (BN). The holder in question was called RB by PCGS but RD by the cataloguer.
Are there other codes found on slabs? I will leave those for the other 1,852 E-Sylum readers to explain.
The reader's question was triggered by a Stack's Bowers email highlighting several lots in the August 2015 Stack's Bowers
Chicago ANA Auction, including lots 10028 and 10035 (pictured). My advice? Fuggetabout the slabs. These are sweet coins. Buy the coins,
not the slabs and stickers. -Editor
To read the complete lot descriptions, see:
Extremely Rare Proof-65 RB
1864 L on Ribbon Cent (www.stacksbowers.com/BrowseAuctions/LotDetail/tabid/
1807/6 Draped Bust Cent.
S-273. Rarity-1. Large 7, Pointed 1. (www.stacksbowers.com/BrowseAuctions/LotDetail/tabid/227/
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: AUGUST 2, 2015 : Decoding the Slab
Wayne Homren, Editor
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