Does it make sense to keep MS ancients in slabs?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Gam3rBlake, Aug 5, 2021.

  1. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Let me start off by saying I know that the majority of ancient coin collectors here hate slabs and refuse to slab their coins. I know and understand that you like to see them without thick plastic in the way and more importantly that you like to hold them and feel history in your hands.

    Now having said that: What about high grade ancient coins?

    I am wondering if that is a different situation since it’s so much easier to turn an MS coin into an AU coin with an accidental drop, scratch, etc.,

    It just seems to me like MS coins would make sense to slab to keep them safe from accidents or environmental damage or even ugly toning.

    What do you guys think?
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  3. IdesOfMarch01

    IdesOfMarch01 Well-Known Member

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  4. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Well I wasn’t so much trying to get into that argument in general but rather focusing on the question of MS coins.
  5. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis

    I keep some of my coins(mostly small ones that could easily hop from tray to tray) in Air-Tite capsules with inserts that cost less than $1 a piece. I also ship coins in them occasionally. I'd feel pretty silly paying slab prices when the capsules offer the same level of protection and are easily openable.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2021
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  6. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis

    An example of the capsules I use. They're not strictly necessary on the quinarii because they don't often move but the silver sestertius(small coin on the left) does need a little help to stay in its slot in trays with larger openings like this. And of course they do offer protection. I brought a number of coins to NYC through TSA and a very turbulent plane ride in these capsules for NYINC 2020.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2021
  7. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Yeah that’s true air-tites are cheaper.

    But can’t coins still time ugly in them?

    Idk if this is similar but I’ve seen even sealed proof sets tone ugly.However I’ve never seen coins in TPG slabs tone. Maybe that’s my own lack of experience but it’s just not something I’ve seen.

    For me the main appeal of slabbing is that I trust NGC experts more than I do myself when it comes to determining if a coin is real or not.

    Now I’m not saying NGC is perfect. They aren’t. But I guarantee if someone put 50 real ancient coins and 50 fake ones in front of me and told me to figure out which ones were which I would probably be wrong 50% of the time.

    Whereas with NGC I’m guessing they’d be able to identify 90% or more of the fakes.

    It’s especially necessary for me since I have been buying expensive coins lately and I need that NGC opinion as a sort of confidence booster.

    If I was buying like $40-$80 coins I’d definitely be more willing to take the risk and use my own judgement.

    But when I buy a coin like my last one (the Quadrigatus) and the price tag is over $1,000 I just don’t have enough knowledge and experience to identify real vs really good fake.

    As Plato tells us Socrates once said:
    “I know that I know nothing.”

    Wisdom is being aware of what you don’t know.
  8. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Well-Known Member

    For some of the coins you've been buying, a significant portion of the cost is the slab itself. Buying from reputable sources mitigates the risk of fakes: NGC is another (very useful) opinion but, for the coins you're seeking, you'd likely be better off just using trustworthy dealers.

    As it pertains to damage/handling/wear, as @red_spork showed, AirTites work very well at a fraction of the cost, as do Lighthouse's "QuickSlabs" which is what I use for the majority of my collection. They can be re-opened easily and still provide the same protection and don't cost an arm and a leg (higher end ancients are charged 1% of their value to be slabbed).

    Perhaps unsurprisingly because of the name, AirTites are actually more "air tight" than slabs which are slightly permeable and can still allow some toning to occur.
  9. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis

    I trust my own resources and abilities a lot more than NGC for the coins I collect and specialize in(and it would be impossible to build a collection like mine buying pre-slabbed coins, but that's a different discussion) but as far as ugly toning, as AJ points out, that's possible in slabs too. I've seen reports of bronzes having bronze disease progress in slabs so I have no reason to doubt that ugly toning could occur too.

    That said, I'm not particularly worried about toning developing. Some of my coins do exhibit toning especially those that have been sitting in my envelopes and trays for years. It's something that naturally happens to silver for the most part and I personally quite like what has developed on my coins. All things being equal I'd much rather have a toned coin than one that's blast white, and on top of that a lot of my coins have 20+ year provenance so they already have some amount of toning when I get them.
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  10. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    I don’t really know any reputable dealers. I collect American pre-WW2 coinage and I go to my LCS for that when I can but he doesn’t have any ancient coins.

    So mostly I’ve been using HA. I know some people would say I overpay for coins using HA but I’ve gotten offers higher than what I paid for stuff I got there.

    Like I bought my Athenian Owl for $1560 (that’s including the Buyers Premium) and a few weeks later I got an offer through Heritage offering me $2,363 for it.
    So even though people tell me I’m overpaying I feel like I’m doing well on there.

    However I am open to buying from other places. I’ve been looking at Stacks & Bowers as well but haven’t bought anything.

    Idk why I just like slabs. I can’t explain it. As I said I collect pre-WW2 American coinage and I’m sure you know almost all American coinage of value is slabbed.

    Like this 1799 silver dollar of mine for example. If I posted it in the US coins forum asking “should I crack it out?” I know for a fact people would say “no leave it.” Unless they were just trolling.

    Ancient coinage is new to me. US coinage is what I grew up and began with so I learned from that perspective.

    So it’s like a psychological thing basically xD
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2021
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  11. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    But ask yourself this:

    You say you rely on your own abilities and resources in coins you specialize in. But what would you be saying if you had just started and had no experience or specialization?

    Im sure you would need to rely on some authority to guarantee you’re getting what you paid for so that you can get your hands on real coins and learn and get that specialization for the future and eventually you won’t need it and will trust yourself more.

    No one can begin something as an expert. Well for all of us who aren’t prodigies anyway. Everyone has to learn to with experience. I feel like TPGs help beginners get their hands on the real thing so they can learn for themselves until they don’t need TPGs.
  12. Mammothtooth

    Mammothtooth Stand up Philosopher, Vodka Taster

    Well, as for me I like to touch the coin and feel the energy of the ages pass to me. Poetic Ain’t I. On the other hand any coin costing less than 100.00 need not be slabbed due to cost. Me thinks.
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  13. IdesOfMarch01

    IdesOfMarch01 Well-Known Member

    I suspect this is more of a self-perpetuating business model (some might less charitably call it a scam) invented by Heritage and NGC rather than representing an actual increase in price/interest. "It's in a slab and NGC graded MS 5/5 - 4/5 so it must be highly collectible." Heritage is trading in slabs, not coins.

    Consider this: What if you removed it from the slab and were able to offer it directly to Heritage's buyer for, say, $2,200? You'd make a better profit, the buyer would get a lower price than Heritage is likely charging. Do you think the buyer would still want it out of the slab?

    Quickslabs are a great way to protect coins if this is your goal. Independent expert evaluation (for a fee) provides reasonable guarantee of authenticity. If NGC slabs provide both to you, that's one choice, but I would hypothesize that you're paying more of a premium for the Heritage/NGC service than a Quickslab plus an independent ancient coin expert's evaluation.
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  14. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    There is an alternative holder for high-end coins, but it is hard to locate. In fact, the ones I have are through auction purchases.

    This holder is made of a hard plastic snap frame, with mylar windows. The holder displays the coin nicely and securely when closed. It also provides views of the coin's edge. By applying pressure on the end of the frame, opposite the hinged side, it opens to provide access to the coin.

    The holder measures 2 3/4" wide, 3/4" thick.
    D-Camera Presentation holder example 8-5-21.jpg
    Now, for the downsides.

    1. The holder does not have space for a label. All labels need to be stored with the coin in a box, in this case a box provided by Roma Numismatics. This leads to a somewhat bulky object to store, but slabs are also bulky, in different dimension measurements.

    2. Availability is an issue. As I mentioned, this type of holder is provided for high-end coin purchases. Other coins are delivered in 2x2 flips. I know of no coin supply company that has this specific holder available. Other holders of this type can be purchased, but they are larger and they come with stands for display, something that is useless for storage needs.

    3. Durability of the Mylar. As can be seen the owl has caused the Mylar to stretch, as it should. For long term storage, I am not sure how well this holder will endure, but, since it is plastic, and we all know how long it takes plastic to break down, that may not be an issue, nor should any chemical damage through PVC deposits.

    The vast majority of the collection is stored in 2x2 safety flips, double row boxes. Several coins are in Roma Boxes, mostly acquired from Roma. The few presentation holders that I do own are used for archaic owls, high grade transitional and mass production owls, and a few other select rare coins.
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  15. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Oh no it wasn’t Heritage making the offer.

    It was a person registered with Heritage like all have to do to bid.

    People can make offers through Heritage on coins that others have won in the past and then transact through Heritage so neither party is at any risk.

    Like I can go make offers on coins that people have won at auction on HA and people can make offers on coins ive won.

    Heritage doesn’t do anything except ensure privacy for both parties and making sure the coin is the same coin that was originally auctioned.

    See below it says “make offer to owner”.

    So someone saw I had won my owl back in May and then they clicked “make an offer” and offered me almost 50% more.

  16. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    They sell them...
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  17. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Thats a bit too glam for me xD

    I do like that I can stack slabs in my safe. It’s only like 3 ft by 2 ft. so space is extremely limited. Definitely not big enough for one of those huge velvet trays.
  18. Herodotus

    Herodotus Well-Known Member

    Considering the OP's history on this board concerning this topic...

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  19. kirispupis

    kirispupis Well-Known Member

    In my opinion, no. Your previous paragraph explains why.

    Nope. As others explained, there are better options.

    Why do you ask us questions, then try to steer the answers?
  20. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    @Herodotus, I respect your opinions, and it's hardly my job to defend @Gam3rBlake, but in this case I think you're being a bit harsh on her. We all know her position on slabs in general, and I suspect the majority of us disagree with her, for a long list of reasons. But this was a different question, limited to the slabbing of what she refers to as "MS" coins. Even though I have my doubts as to whether any ancient coin can truly be "Mint State" under the Sheldon Scale (modified or otherwise), the question of whether high-grade (and, more so, rare and high-value) coins are appropriate for slabbing, for financial and security reasons if nothing else, is certainly not an unheard-of topic for discussion here. And it's hardly unprecedented for people who don't believe in slabbing in general to make an exception for that kind of coin. So raising the question doesn't constitute trolling by itself, I think.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2021
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  21. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Well-Known Member has many, then there's CNG, Harlan Berk, and various auction houses on Sixbid/Numisbids/others.

    That's an offer I suggested you to take when you posted on the PCGS forum asking for advice. I would be quite surprised if anyone else comes around in the next several years offering more (and if they do, I could sell them a couple hundred more and a share in a nice bridge).

    One uninformed offer from a buyer who indiscriminately placed offers on dozens of near-identical coins does not indicate a price trajectory. As mentioned, there is a hoard of thousands of Athens tetradrachms trickling out on the market and the offer you received would allow you to buy an even nicer example or a few other coins. Between the last two Roma e-sales, there were 256 nice Athens tetradrachms, almost all < $1K.

    As many other members have posted here, if you ask a question, it would be beneficial if you listened to the given advice.

    To the original point: common, high-grade denarii in particular tend to be significantly overpriced when slabbed - you'd get a nicer, genuine coin for 1/4th the price buying raw from trusted dealers.
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