The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 19, Number 40, October 2, 2016, Article 7


Michael Bugeja published a review on September 29, 2016 on Coin Update of the 2nd edition of David Schwager’s Sample Slabs catalog. -Editor

Sample Slabs 2nd ed Numismatic writer David Schwager’s Sample Slabs catalog—a behemoth 620-page compendium of sample coin and currency holders from dozens of companies, including NGC and PCGS—is a fascinating study in “buying the holder, not the coin.” Well, maybe that’s an overstatement because the work is so well written, researched and illustrated that you may want one, as I did, for a personal numismatic library.

I have been interested in the design of holders ever since purchasing a silver dollar in a PCGS Regency holder. Earlier this month one such “sample” holder, believed to be the only one of its kind, sold on eBay for $3,449.99. Owned by numismatist Michael Kittle, who purchased the holder at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Anaheim.

regency-slab Here’s what it looks like:

Kittle saw Schwager at the Anaheim show shortly after he bought the PCGS Regency sample slab. “I showed it to him to see if he had ever seen one before and he said he couldn’t even believe what he was looking at,” Kittle said. “He told me if one had been known before, it would have been on the cover of his book.”

Schwager’s book not only catalogs slabs but also explains how to collect them. Each entry has a designation identifying the company, coin, and other attributes, along with a narrative and estimated value. “You and I will probably never discover a VAM silver dollar variety,” he writes, “but we will discover samples unlisted in any reference.”

That is precisely what Kittle did at the ANA show, and it paid off handsomely.

Schwager explains several ways to begin collecting sample slabs. Before we get to the explanation, you should keep in mind that the word “sample” is key here. NGC “Black Slabs” and PCGS Regency and Doily slabs sell for premiums with coins inside, too; in fact, an NGC Black Slab with a 1946-D Half Dollar sold on the same day as Kittle’s Regency holder for $3,740 (realized price) in a GreatCollections sale. What made Kittle’s holder special (and some might say, a bargain) was the word “sample.” Certainly, you can collect holders without that word but you also will be paying for the coin inside. Schwager’s book is geared to the hundreds of hobbyists who collect sample slabs for the slabs themselves.

As an added bonus, Schwager’s book also includes currency holders.

I understand the motto, “buy the coin, not the holder,” and I also understand that many readers here would never consider paying top dollar for a piece of plastic. But there is another way to look at it: These holders are part of collecting history, and the pursuit of collecting is really the fun part of what we do as hobbyists.

So what do you think? Do you collect sample holders? Would you consider doing so? If not, here’s a thought: You may just want to purchase this book and save your hobbyist dollars for coins rather than plastic.

I recommend Schwager’s catalog not only for the sharp photos of holders but also for his concise descriptions full of history and anecdotes. The work sells in softcover for $26 plus $5 shipping. You can get a PDF version for $12, or both book and PDF for $31 plus $5 shipping.

Click here for ordering information:

To read the complete article, see:
Review: “Sample Slabs” (2nd ed.), by David Schwager (

David Schwager published Sample Slab Update #14 (the newsletter for sample slab collectors) in October 1, 2016. Here's an excerpt with more information. -Editor

A PCGS Regency sample slab, the first one known to exist, sold for $3,449.99 in an eBay auction on September 18. This far exceeds the previous record high price for a single sample of $609 paid for a PCGS hand-cut doily (catalog PCGS-010-2-2) in March of this year.

Although TPG authority Conder101 mentioned a rumored sighting at a Long Beach Expo in 2007, this is the first confirmed news of the existence of a PCGS Regency holder labeled “sample.”As reported in the last Sample Slab Update, Los Angeles-area coin dealer Mike Kittle bought the slab from its original owner at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in August 2016. The Byron Reed Collection mentioned on the label refers to a 19th century collector who endowed the Durham Museum in Omaha to display his coin and other collections. The prior owner of this holder, who worked for an auction house and had PCGS connections, had the holder made as part of an attempt to persuade the Durham Museum to consign its unneeded coins for sale.

While displaying the holder at the August ANA and September Long Beach shows, Mike received several strong offers. Rather than accept one of the offers and risk hurting the feelings of his other customers, he decided that a public auction was the fairest choice. The one week eBay auction started at 99 cents and grew to over $1,000 in the first day. By the final day, the slab reached $2,000+, and last minute bidding pushed the auction to its final total of $3,449.99. The impressive amount for this and an NGC black holder sold by Great Collections on the same night prompted a Coin World post by Michael Bugeja highlighting the sales.

Let me congratulate the winning bidder on his acquisition. This could be the only time in many years that a Regency sample becomes available to the sample collecting fraternity.

To read the complete newsletter, see:

Schein E-Sylum ad01 Two Books 6

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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