Featured My experience with one of the Top 4 TPG's

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Beefer518, Mar 18, 2018.

  1. Beefer518

    Beefer518 Well-Known Member

    Grab a cup of coffee. This is a novel. coffee-clipart-emoji-13 (Custom).jpg

    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:
    1. 1893 Isabella 25¢ (#1) (IMO, improperly cleaned, but AU)
    2. 1893 Isabella 25¢ (#2) (IMO, improperly cleaned, AU/MS slider)
    3. 1921 Alabama 2x2 50¢ Silver Commem (Bought as VF, but thought it could go XF)
    4. 1936 Albany 50¢ Silver Commem (Solid 65)
    5. 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):
    1. 1893 Isabella 25¢ (#1) - Cleaned, don't bother getting it graded
    2. 1893 Isabella 25¢ (#2) - Cleaned, don't bother getting it graded, but it's a nice coin, too bad it was cleaned
    3. 1921 Alabama 2x2 50¢ Silver Commem - Should go XF, and if I paid VF money, I did well
    4. 1936 Albany 50¢ Silver Commem - nicest of the lot. Definitely a 64 with a chance at a 65
    5. 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:
    1. 1893 Isabella 25¢ (#1) - AU53
    2. 1893 Isabella 25¢ (#2) - AU58 DTLS Scratched
    3. 1921 Alabama 2x2 50¢ Silver Commem - AU53
    4. 1936 Albany 50¢ Silver Commem - MS66
    5. 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!:bag:

    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:
    Isabella AU53 (Custom).jpg Isabella AU58D (Custom).jpg 1921 Alabama 2x2 L (Custom).jpg Albany (Custom).jpg 1883 2 (Custom).jpg

    I welcome and urge any comments about the coins and the experience.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
    JayF and carpman98 like this.
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  3. Mainebill

    Mainebill Wild Bill

    ICG = I cant grade. A reason they’re #4
  4. desertgem

    desertgem MODERATOR Senior Errer Collecktor Moderator

    I used to have a better opinion, but I agree with you and Mainebill. There is a reason for price disparity.
    Beefer518 likes this.
  5. Beefer518

    Beefer518 Well-Known Member

    @Mainebill - I read your comments in the GTG's on these coins. On coin #1, you said you don't agree at all with the assigned grade. Is it the 53, or the straight grade you don't agree with, or both?

    FYI - I don't agree with the straight grade. I'm ok with the 53.
  6. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage

    Heck, you got some really good grades!! I agree with top 3 grades, the bottom 2, not so much. The #2 Isabella has two major scratches. One scratch is right in front of her chin and lips and the other is right under the 'M' in Lady Managers. My guess is you may choose a different TPG next time. What say, you?
    Beefer518 likes this.
  7. Beefer518

    Beefer518 Well-Known Member

    I usually use ANACS or NGC for coins I plan on keeping. I collect early commemoratives as my main focus, and they both seem to be consistent on commems. ANACS I've found to actually be toughest on the early commemoratives. I've always felt that PCGS has a default grade of 64 for all commems, unless they are outstanding, or have amazing toning.
  8. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage

    Yes, I use ANACS exclusively, they're cheaper and I've always been satisfied with their grading. That said, most of my coins I send in to be graded cost less than $500 as well, lastly most cost much less than $500.
    Paul M. likes this.
  9. longshot

    longshot Enthusiast Supporter

    For whatever reason, ICG ignored problems/overgraded this batch. Not good. I believe the OP's and the rep's evaluations are much better.
    Numismat and carpman98 like this.
  10. C-B-D

    C-B-D U.S. Type Coins or death! Supporter

    Skip at ICG is a wonderful person and one of the most knowledgeable numismatists you'll find anywhere. He's also a master counterfeit detector. HOWEVER, my educated guess is that he knows why most people submit coins there. Namely: to get a problem coin in a straight holder, or a nice coin into a higher grade.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
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  11. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball Cannot Re-Member

    "When I'm drinking beer, I choose Dos Equis!"

    "When I'm grading coins, I drink lots of Dos Equis!"

    bhh, Blissskr, Insider and 2 others like this.
  12. V. Kurt Bellman

    V. Kurt Bellman Yes, I'm blunt! Get over your "feeeeelings".

    Sounds like the rep at the show is a better grader than his graders are.
    Blissskr, FBLfinder, asheland and 2 others like this.
  13. V. Kurt Bellman

    V. Kurt Bellman Yes, I'm blunt! Get over your "feeeeelings".

    There is a difference between "early" ICG and recent ICG. I've never had a "early or legacy" ICG fail to pseudo-cross (crack out and submit raw) to NGC, but among some more recent ICG's, even I can see they'll never make the same grade at NGC. It's a shame, really. I really liked that indent on their slabs.
  14. Jebocement

    Jebocement Member

    And THIS is why I am always confused about my ungraded coins!! :) Your experience described the exact scenario I expect to receive when I send my coins in for grading. GREAT STORY!
  15. BooksB4Coins

    BooksB4Coins Newbieus Sempiterna

    I'm sorry, but business is business. The issue with so-called lesser TPGs and/or even another entering into the game isn't ability, but market acceptance. If ICG graded to the same or a stricter standard than the bigger boys, what do you think the overwhelming result would be? Would they immediately become accepted and acknowledged for it, or would any better material in their holders immediately be cracked out and submitted to whichever plastic factory would result in the highest prices or greatest demand?

    If one wants to stay in business in an atmosphere where perception is everything, a niche will need to be filled, and I fail to see how the like ANACS or ICG could stay in business much less thrive without having to focus on said niche. Unfortunately, this also means they have to stay one step ahead of the big boys regarding leniency too.
    Mainebill, V. Kurt Bellman and C-B-D like this.
  16. Numinaut

    Numinaut Member

    I live in central Florida, near Tampa, and so the ICG guys, who are super guys and very knowledgeable, are sort of my home-town boys, homies if you like. So one night last week I was going through low-population US gold coins on eba…oops, online (sorry Mr. Bellman:angelic:) looking for bargains, and I was looking at I-don’t-remember-which date, where the Garrett-Guth book said the usual “common through MS62, MS63 very rare, none higher”, and lo-and-behold, there scrolling across my screen comes an ICG holder marked MS64. Well I couldn’t afford that so I didn’t look at it very hard, but it sort of left me scratching my head thinking that one certainly flew under the radar.
  17. V. Kurt Bellman

    V. Kurt Bellman Yes, I'm blunt! Get over your "feeeeelings".

    It’s because ICG coins aren’t even COUNTED in coin populations. Everybody uses a different “universe” in their populations. The ones in the Whitman Mega-Red books are NGC only, not even PCGS. Sometimes it’s difficult to see which universe is being used.
    Numinaut likes this.
  18. Omegaraptor

    Omegaraptor Gobrecht / Longacre Enthusiast

    Isn’t ICG the only TPG that slabs minor contemporary counterfeits?
  19. V. Kurt Bellman

    V. Kurt Bellman Yes, I'm blunt! Get over your "feeeeelings".

    Not sure they’re “only” anymore. ANACS has added some. When our coin club’s vendor for our club medals misspelled the honoree on our medal a few years back, they struck 5 for us in copper, and at that time, only ICG would slab them. The club held onto one, and I have one of the other four.
  20. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    At any of the TPGs a coin may be designated as Scratched because it has a single severe scratch, or multiple less severe scratches. And multiple is defined as 2 or more. In other words both severity and quantity matter.
    Beefer518 likes this.
  21. Beefer518

    Beefer518 Well-Known Member

    I get that, but I would have expected this to have been deemed 'Improperly/Harshly Cleaned". Ie, call it what it is.
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