Grab a cup of coffee. This is a novel. We're all familiar with, and have our preferences one way or the other with the 4 major Third Party Grading (TPG) services - ANACS, ICG, NGC, PCGS (that's in alphabetical order, not preference). We are also aware that in general, PCGS and NGC are the top 2. ANACS seems to be tops when it comes to authenticity and varieties/VAMs by most accounts. ICG (in my personal opinion) had seemed to be a top 4 due to their acceptance by ebay, and not based on reputation among dealers, hobbyists, or numismatic forums. But! ICG has recently had some very good feedback about crossovers, and in general, good reports overall. I have personally felt while they all do a pretty good job, none of them are perfect in their grading/attributing 100% of the time, and they're grading consistency seems to change with the times, or maybe the weather. I have a number of coins that while weren't stellar, I felt would benefit from being slabbed by one of the 4. Most are (IMO) either details coins, or valued low enough where grading fees weren't warranted. Others are coins that I feel will benefit from being slabbed when it's time to sell. Last month, I went to the Sarasota Coin Show. ICG (almost?) always has a rep there, and I decided I would bring in a few coins to submit that fell into the above categories. I knew, or I thought I knew, what to expect when the coins came back to me. The coins that were submitted, with my guesses and comments: 1893 Isabella 25¢ (#1) (IMO, improperly cleaned, but AU) 1893 Isabella 25¢ (#2) (IMO, improperly cleaned, AU/MS slider) 1921 Alabama 2x2 50¢ Silver Commem (Bought as VF, but thought it could go XF) 1936 Albany 50¢ Silver Commem (Solid 65) 1883 Liberty 5¢ (stumped... See my comments on the GTG of this coin here) I sat down with the rep, who is a pillar in the numismatic community, and knows his stuff. He's also a really nice guy. He won't hold back, he'll tell you flat out if the coin is worth grading, and what the expected (not promised or guaranteed) grade will probably be. He went through the coins I brought, and made his guesses and suggestions. They were (essentially): 1893 Isabella 25¢ (#1) - Cleaned, don't bother getting it graded 1893 Isabella 25¢ (#2) - Cleaned, don't bother getting it graded, but it's a nice coin, too bad it was cleaned 1921 Alabama 2x2 50¢ Silver Commem - Should go XF, and if I paid VF money, I did well 1936 Albany 50¢ Silver Commem - nicest of the lot. Definitely a 64 with a chance at a 65 1883 Liberty 5¢ Cleaned, don't bother getting it graded His philosophy certainly seemed to be - don't get a details coin graded under any circumstance. However, I had reasons for wanting the above coins in slabs, and after almost forcing him to take my money, we decided on those 5 to be submitted. I had brought others, but only wanted to submit the show minimum of 5 coins. Fast forward to 4 days ago (Thursday), I get an email letting me know the coins are on their way back to me with the results. I was floored. How was I (and their rep) so far off? In hand I'm pretty good at telling a cleaned coin from a coin with original surfaces, I thought. The Results: 1893 Isabella 25¢ (#1) - AU53 1893 Isabella 25¢ (#2) - AU58 DTLS Scratched 1921 Alabama 2x2 50¢ Silver Commem - AU53 1936 Albany 50¢ Silver Commem - MS66 1883 Liberty 5¢ - MS61 Coins #3 & #4 came in a bit higher then I expected, but nothing earth-shattering. Coin #1, I could've sworn was hairlined and cleaned. Coin #2 I was expecting Details, but 'Scratched'? What scratch? I know it was cleaned, which left hairlines, but I had to go look at my pre-submission images to look for this 'scratch'. I see scratches (note the multiple), but no single scratch that stands out more then the others, or more then the scratches on coin #1. But, Um.... ok Coin #5, I'm still confused on. I have another 1883 No Cents that looks almost identical to it, as far as the 'style' of scratches, and I'm currently having a conversation with another owner of an 1883 No Cents whose coin is similar to mine, so who knows, maybe it wasn't cleaned. I'm not a nickel guy, so I'll hide behind that cloak! So what am I trying to get out with this thread? Not really sure. I do feel that each and every one of the 5 coins I submitted were over by at least one grade. I also feel I definitely got away with at least one coin getting a straight grade that should have gotten a details grade. Would I buy an ICG graded coin? Certainly. I would also adjust down at least one grade though when assessing it for a value. Would I use ICG again? Yes. But only with coins I have specific goals in mind with. Are those goals self-serving? Yup, and that's ok with me. Here are the coins: I welcome and urge any comments about the coins and the experience.